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Sustainable development, strong sustainability, regeneration… Issues that continue to grow in importance. And over the years, concepts evolve.
If we had to sum up, we could define the sustainable system as being less harmful, whereas a regenerative system would be beneficial. Obviously, this concept calls for further explanations, which is what we intend to explore.
The notion of sustainable development is now more than thirty years old. It was defined in 1987 by Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
In 1992, the United Nations formalised this notion of sustainable development during the Earth Summit in Rio, along with the predominance of three pillars (economic/environmental/social). It recognises the need for economically efficient, socially equitable and environmentally sustainable development.
However, it is evident that most companies do not apply these principles to sustainable development.
The idea of regeneration instantly refers to a slightly different lexicon. We are no longer referring to development but to repairing, restoring, renewing and even empowering. It is no longer “enough” to reduce negative impacts, but about going beyond by giving (back) to the Planet more than we have taken from it, nor giving back to Earth what we have taken, but sustainably improving the ecosystem which we settled into with a positive impact.
It is about enabling ecosystems to renew themselves and finding a balance again. An idea that is part of the circular economy concept, giving prominence to a mode of production and consumption that involves sharing, renting, and reusing existing products for as long as possible.
Regenerative products would not only be recycled and recyclable, but they would also improve the environmental conditions of the location where they are made and used as well as throughout their life cycle. Sounds crazy, right?
The regeneration concept goes well beyond sustainable development, and few companies have committed themselves to the regenerative journey. For reasons that are however largely understandable: we are still only getting started with this concept. A company cannot just turn itself into a regenerative company in a blink of an eye.
There is no "one size fits all". Everything has to be invented in this new economy that benefits both: humans and nature.
Produce more, quicker, more cheaply, grow more and more,… makes humanity's future uncertain, without even mentioning the collapse of biodiversity. That is why, the United Nations adopted in September 2015 the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) as a Universal call to action to guarantee that by 2030 all humans could live in peace and prosperity. . Yes, it is ambitious.
According to the last report by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), there is no doubt that drastic, immediate and worldwide action is required if we want to avoid exceeding the limits of global warming, which the Paris Accord refers to.
Firstly because this pursuit of progress has put pressure on and depleted a lot of things: ecosystems, the planet (the oceans, the biodiversity, climate change…), hearts and minds (depression, eco-anxiety, medication…). The regenerative approach subsequently constitutes an optimistic approach. A new approach to support long-lasting and inspiring systems.What is the catch? This approach goes well beyond the “basic” concept of sustainable development… Even if a lot of them have not even reached this stage yet.
Restorative and regenerative companies are pioneers but are imperfect. They have not managed to achieve a completely positive net impact... for the time being. But they have started on the path of this new dynamic.