On a Paradigm Shift to Regenerative Cultures

Numerous frameworks are now embracing complexity and operating based on a new set of foundational truths that underpin a regenerative paradigm. These innovative models are challenging and reshaping the neoliberal perspective of infinite growth and hierarchical structures. While many individuals still cling to these entrenched beliefs, it is essential to recognize that these concepts of modern economics and governance are relatively recent, originating less than a century ago and primarily influenced by a limited group of individuals, predominantly white and male. In contrast, regenerative frameworks draw inspiration from the profound traditional knowledge and practices of Indigenous peoples, who have lived in harmony with their bioregions for thousands, if not tens of thousands, of years. Modern science has now caught up with and begun to support ideas that were once considered mere myth just two decades ago.
Central to these emerging ideas is the understanding that everything is interconnected, and natural systems exhibit complexity. The more intricate the system, the greater the biodiversity and life it can support. Science now reveals that nature is far from inert and passive. Ecosystems, plants, and animals exhibit intelligence, interact with one another, and respond to changes in their environment. We have progressed significantly from the outdated notion that nature operates mechanistically, with humans as the sole conscious beings on the planet. This paradigm shift is reshaping our perception of the world and the universe, and it is high time that this “new” knowledge is integrated into our everyday lives. Alongside these evolving frameworks that acknowledge complexity, new methods for measuring these intricacies are also emerging.
The way we define and measure success is undergoing transformation as well. For decades, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has dominated global policy discussions. However, those in positions of power are increasingly recognizing its limited and shallow implications for both human well-being and the health of our entire planetary system. The focus is shifting toward adopting metrics that place human and environmental well-being at the core of policy making while acknowledging the impossibility of infinite growth. Economist Kate Raworth, who has developed the Doughnut Economics model, argues for a shift in priorities:

Rather than prioritizing metrics like GDP, the objective should be to enhance people’s capabilities, enabling them to lead healthy, empowered, and creative lives, pursuing activities that hold personal value. Achieving these capabilities relies on individuals having access to fundamental necessities, tailored to each society’s context. These necessities encompass nutritious food, healthcare, education, personal security, and political agency (2017: 37).

By embracing this new perspective on measurement and focusing on holistic well-being, we can pave the way for a regenerative paradigm that ensures a prosperous future for both humanity and the planet we call home.

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