The Regenerative Economy
Table of Contents
- Introduction to the Regenerative Economy
- Glossary of Terms
- Event 8: Strengthening Communities: Equipping the Next Generation of Regenerative Leaders
- Event 7: Making the Energy Sector Regenerative: What It Will Take to Get There
- Event 6: A Career of Impact: Investing in Yourself and Your Community
- Event 5: Corporate Impact & Regeneration: Building Partnerships for Impact
- Event 4: Circularity, Companies, and Careers: Regeneration in Action
- Event 3: Building a Regenerative Economy Together: Inspiring Stories and Community Connection
- Event 2: Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation
- Event 1: Building a Regenerative Economy: How Green Swans Can Achieve Impact at Scale
Regenerative Economy: an economic system that is subject to a social foundation for all people and abides by the rational use of natural resources within our planetary boundaries
Black Swans: an unpredictable and unforeseen event, typically one with extreme consequences
Green Swans: a profound market shift, generally catalyzed by some combination of Black or Gray Swan challenges and changing paradigms, values, mindsets, politics, policies, technologies, business models, and other key factors, that have the potential to catalyze significant change
Entrepreneur: a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so
Intrapreneur: a person who applies an entrepreneurial approach to innovating within a company or organization
Sickcare System: a medical industry that responds to illness more than it promotes positive health
Healthcare System: a medical industry that prioritizes preventative health and enables patients to live healthy lifestyles
Nature Deficit Disorder: when a person lacks understanding of their relationship with the environment, within and around them
Circular Economy: a system designed to keep materials in use instead of tossing them in the landfill. Three key elements of a circular business model are i) pollution and waste are eliminated by intentional design, ii) materials are kept in use, and iii) natural systems are reestablished
Impact Investing: A form of investing whereby those who are investing are committed to doing so in a way that generates positive environmental or social benefits for society, while also generating a strong return on their investment.
Community development financial institutions (CDFIs): CDFIs are focused on expanding economic opportunities and access to financial products and services to low-income communities. CDFIs are banks, credit unions, loan funds, microloan funds, or venture capital providers that provide opportunities for communities that mainstream finance doesn’t traditionally reach. This model can help those in underserved communities start small businesses, become homeowners, develop schools, address environmental challenges in their communities and more.
Exchange-traded funds (EFTs): Funds that trade on exchanges, along a specific index. Investing in an ETF results in a bundle of assets that you can buy or sell through a brokerage firm on a stock exchange.
Robo-advisory platform: A digital platform that provides algorithm-driven financial planning services based on questions answered about your financial circumstances and investment goals. A robo-advisor invests for you automatically in various ways, without the engagement of a financial advisor or personal contact.
Mutual funds: When a company pools money from different investors and invests that into stocks, bonds, and short-term debt.
Circularity, Companies, and Careers: Regeneration in Action
Tuesday, January 25, 2022
Our fourth Regenerative Economy event focused on the intersection of regeneration, circularity, and careers and featured companies at the forefront of advancing circularity within supply-chains. Participants learned about the ways in which companies are embracing circularity, latest trends in the circular economy landscape, and tips on how to find an impact-focused role. The event covered key trends in circularity, the changing impact job market, and how to take action in your current role.
- Tim Dunn, Director of Environmental Affairs at Best Buy
- Devin Giles, Manager, Renewable Solutions at International Paper
- Paula Luu, Project Director, Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners
- Suzanne Hilker, Senior Manager of Stakeholder Engagement at Best Buy
- Asheen Phansey, Co-Founder and CEO of Eleven Radius
Highlights from the Discussion
There are material challenges around circularity, such as the amount of times that paper can be recycled or consumers storing electronics in their home. How are your innovation teams and reverse logistics teams thinking through some of these material resource challenges?
Devin Giles: “Fibers do break down. The fiber might not be turned back into a box, but we can find other beneficial uses for those leftover fibers. Whether it’s using [paper] byproduct to go into cement or other items, there are all these crazy uses for this secondary resource, so finding that beneficial resource and really looking for ways beyond utilizing it for energy or other items.”
What does your company look like five to ten years from now? How are your supply chains different? How are you engaging with your customers? What are your products like?
Tim Dunn: “Circularity can thrive efficiently. The more we take that lens for the business, the more it becomes a part of the culture. When supply chains are restrictive, when moving product can be a challenge, more and more it becomes about efficiency: do more with less. So that’s going to be the next five years.”
What does it mean to be an impact professional? What does that mean to you and how has that evolved over your career?
Paula Luu: “Anyone can be an impact professional. It’s a matter of first becoming a subject matter expert and from there understanding the linkages between different decision points and what impact those decisions have. An impact professional speaks the language of their audiences: it’s about knowing how you can make improvements that ultimately benefit people, planet, and profit and your ability to communicate to the profit opportunities, to the market-competitiveness of the opportunities. That’s really where success and speed emerge.”
How did Net Impact play a role in your careers?
Suzanne Hilker: “Being familiar with Net Impact, attending my first conference, it was a full education for me. The energy, emotion, and inspiration I felt at that first conference–it really started me on my path of understanding that this is where I’m supposed to be, this is what I want to do, these are my people. That has really continued for me and starting the Net Impact chapter at Best Buy, bringing others along on the journey, helping more people to have the tools, the network…it opens a lot of doors and gives you the opportunity to work on things that you might not in your day jobs.
What can YOU do?
- Give some thought to circularity in your own life - are you purchasing and using products with their end life in mind? How are you contributing to a circular economy through your own practices and your support of companies who embrace circularity?
- Identify companies committed to circularity. The Circularity, Companies, and Careers: Regeneration in Action program spotlighted two leading companies - Best Buy and International Paper - working to advance circularity. Do the research to find others taking action to replace the traditional “take-make-waste” system of production and resource use with regenerative and circular strategies.
- Extend the life cycle of paper products that you use and support circularity efforts by ensuring you are properly recycling those products.
- Recycle your old and unused electronics. Here are some places you can do so recommended by our speakers and participants:
- Consider pursuing a career related to circularity or examining how you can foster circularity-based approaches within your current company. Search for a new career opportunities and learn more:
- Participate in one of Net Impact’s related programs:
- Check out the books and podcast recommended by our speakers:
- Check out these books recommended by our attendees:
- Looking for professional credentials in sustainability? Check out these organizations and suggested resources:
Building a Regenerative Economy Together: Inspiring Stories and Community Connection
Thursday, November 18, 2021
Our third Regenerative Economy event focused on community connection, spotlighting BIPOC social entrepreneurs in an inclusive dialogue for all to participate in and learn from each other's perspectives and experiences. The Net Impact community is filled with leaders and this highly interactive event gave our community a chance to hear from new voices, meet new people, and connect with speakers and other attendees to build relationships and take action together.
- Daniela Fernandez, Founder & CEO of Sustainable Ocean Alliance
- Danielle Kayembe, CEO & Founder of Greyfire Impact
- Respect Musiyiwa, Team Leader at CASL Trust and Director at Precision Farming Africa
- Diana Yousef, Founder, and CEO at change:WATER Labs
Highlights from the Discussion:
Daniela Fernandez: "When I graduated from Georgetown, I had started [Sustainable Ocean Alliance] and I was all about building community...My mission was to figure out how to activate young people--how do we bring about solutions in this space? But it was just an idea...it took talking to people, being curious, being vulnerable, being open. I still get the question from folks as to 'Are you a marine biologist? Do you have a doctorate in ocean science?' I'm like, 'No. My background is in economics and government but I do have a passion to save the ocean.' And so I'm a big believer in that you don't have to necessarily have to have studied the topic in-depth to be able to contribute and enabling more people to enter the space from their own perspective is really important and really valuable."
Diana Yousef: "One of the big things that kept circling about my head as I was becoming a professional was, 'What are we doing about water?'...It pretty much underpins everything and yet it seemed to me that there wasn't enough being done to try to figure out how we're trying to keep recycling the water molecules that were given to us...I ended up starting change:WATER...The only thing I had was a stroller, a baby, and an idea. I didn't have money, I didn't have collaborators, I didn't have space, I didn't have any supports, and I didn't even have the technology. But eventually what I was [start change:WATER] and we ended up developing a waste-evaporating toilet that gets rid of 95% waste without the need for external power-plumbing to extend safe sanitation to more people around the world."
Respect Musiyiwa: "I'm motivated and inspired to initiate community solutions because I believe that when working with rural communities we are able to ensure food security in local communities in sub-Saharan Africa...The most important thing that you can do as social leaders and also as organizations are to go back to communities and see communities not as charity cases, but as equally important partners in finding solutions that are facing communities. For me, regenerative social change is about leaving no one behind...and making sure we take these communities and give them important platforms so that they can develop themselves."
Danielle Kayembe: "After I left investment banking...I started to really think about what it meant for all of us to coexist and cohabitate in a space where most of the design and funding was going to a very small group of people. A very small percentage of people is receiving ninety-eight percent of the funding. Only two percent of funding is going to women; about 0.2% of funding is going to women of color. So there's a real disconnect between the world we're all expected to live in and who's allowed to be at the table when designing the world for all of us... It's not just about products and services. It's also about the importance of deconstructing the idea that the discomfort of everyone doesn't matter and that diverse people shouldn't have a seat at the table designing the future of the world."
What Can YOU Do?
- Enroll in the Spring 2022 Climate Ambassadors cohort to become a certified Climate Ambassador in your community.
- Apply for the Ocean Solutions Accelerator through Sustainable Ocean Alliance
- Learn more about the Sustainable Ocean Alliance
- Learn more about the women-drien economy and GreyFire Impact
- Learn more about precision farming and CASL Trust
- Learn more about change:WATER Labs and their waterless, portable toilet
- Watch Net Impact Chicago's event: Water & You Global Local Essential
Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
What is the catalyst that will activate our generation to end climate change in our lifetime?
Net Impact hosted renowned climate change thought leader, activist, writer, and speaker, Paul Hawken as part of the second event in The Regenerative Economy series. Paul Hawken and PBS journalist, Paul Solman, dove deep into Hawken's book, Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation. The key question for Hawken, and the Net Impact community, were how a more inclusive movement can end climate change and how we can influence and shape inclusion through our actions and intentions.
- Paul Hawken, Author, Executive Director of Regeneration.org
- Paul Solman, PBS News Correspondent
Highlights from the Discussion:
What does regeneration matter to you personally and how do you define it?
Paul Hawken: "Regeneration" is a word that's coming to the fore. People are latching onto the word as fast as they can, which is lovely, but the reason I use the word is when I was writing Drawdown, I wanted to name the goal. "Regeneration" was always intended to be the how-to book. So "Regeneration" has the world's largest listed network of climate solutions and how to get them done. "Regeneration" to me is putting life at the center of every action. Look at everything you do, make, receive, purchase, and ask, "Are you increasing life on Earth or decreasing?"
What motivates you to do this work?
Paul Hawken: I started in the sustainable agriculture business when I was twenty, so my motivation hasn't changed, but in the past year I think we've reached an inflection point and that inflection point is caused by two things. One is the IPCC--the sixth assessment came out with the term "Code Red" attached to it and there was nothing new in it if you've been tracking climate science and the news but there were two new things. For the first time, it was unanimously signed onto by the countries who are part of the UN framework on climate change. That was amazing--it's never happened before. Second, it highlighted that we now know that the prognostications about climate science for the future were incorrect. We now know that when greenhouse gases peak, within a relatively short time warming ceases and we start to get on a pathway to cooling. Prior to that, we were told it doesn't matter if we stop in 2015 that the Earth will continue to warm and it could go on for decades and centuries, which wasn't a great motivation. So I feel like something really shifted--I can hear it in conversations with CEOs, people, friends, NGOs, activists...it was just a shift in the zeitgeist of the world that happened in the past few weeks.
What can YOU do?
- Check out the science fiction author, Kim Stanley Robinson, for Paul Hawken's favorite solutions for climate change
- If you have kids, "take them outside and have the experience of how mysterious, miraculous, and amazing life is and how it works. So that they, without realizing it, fall in love--because we protect what we love."
- Get in touch with that sensibility that we all have that's about kindness, compassion, and caring...What regeneration offers us is the capacity and ability to come home. When we come home in ourselves, then we look at the world around us and see the problems: the perfidy, the corruption, beauty, joy, and misunderstanding--we see it as a whole; we see the system, and we see ourselves within it. Within it, we then can understand, "Who can I be? What can I be in the systems I see that are so beautifully complex and troubled in a way that is actually a kindness to the world?"
What can you do through Net Impact?
- Join one of our programs to collaborate with like-minded individuals striving to make the world a better place: Net Impact Programs
- Buy Paul Hawken's book
- Learn more about Axo's role in regenerative food systems
- Resources shared by our participants
- Get involved with regenerative organizations and communities
- Learn more about our relationship with the planet
- Breaking Boundaries by Johan Rockstrom and Owen Gaffney
- Breaking Boundaries: The Science of our Planet
- Netflix documentary with David Attenborough
- Learn more about food systems: Stuffed and Starved by Raj Patel
- Learn more about us humans: Human: The World Within
Building a Regenerative Economy: How Green Swans Can Achieve Impact at Scale
August 31, 2021
Our first event in the Regenerative Economy series featured John Elkington, author of Green Swans: The coming Boom in Regenerative Capitalism, and a next-generation Green Swan innovator, Gary Sheng, founder of Civics Unplugged.
In a wolf thick with challenges, the possibility of a regenerative economy - one that recognizes that people, planetary resources, and systems are interdependent - is reason for optimism. in particular, "green Swans" - innovations that deliver exponential progress in the form of economic, social, and environmental wealth creation - was the focus of this initial conversation.
- John Elkington, Executive Chairman and Co-Founder of Volans Ventures
- Gary Sheng, Chief Operating Officer of Civics Unplugged
Highlights of the Discussion:
What does regeneration mean to you personally and how do you define it?
John Elkington: Ever so often a big new theme comes along: sustainability, back in the day, circular economy, shared value. Now [it's] regeneration and it's not random, this sequence of shifts... I've been involved in the sustainability movement for a very long time and I think one of the problems, when these [themes] change agendas mainstream, is they get diluted because everyone has their own interests. They bend the meaning, they bend the language based on where they happen to be at the time. I think regeneration is harder to do that with; it's less soft, in a way, as a concept.
What was the spark that got you interested in social impact?
Gary Sheng: I didn't consider myself civically-minded at all until 2016. A lot happened that year, not just in the U.S. but in the world. What I realized was that unlike [what] some political theorists said, we weren't at the end of history. We weren't heading toward a world that was more equitable, more democratic, more humane - and that really startled me. All during college, the default was landing jobs or internships that maximized your starting salary. In 2016, I started to question that very strong, default paradigm. It took me many years to take the leap to co-found Civics Unplugged, but during those years, I recognized we had many mutually exacerbated crises that we're facing as a global community. We're only going to survive if we do something about the leadership crisis that is underlying all of it. If we don't level up our ability to lead as individuals and produce better leaders that understand regeneration, our future is bleak.
What have been some of your blind spots and how have you been able to learn from them?
John Elkington: Thinking back, there will have been some blind spots...Blind spots come in so many different ways. Some of them you obsess around climate change and you miss human rights or corruption or different parts of the agenda. One of the challenges for us all and one of the benefits of the ESG sort of framing is that we have to think in multiple dimensions and integrate them on the backend.
What can YOU do?
- Be intentional about slowing down, pausing, and reflecting
- Making decisions aligning with our values and the world we want to create is supported by self-reflection.
- Check out HBR's "Why You Should Make Time for Self Reflection (Even if You Hate Doing It)
- Regeneration only works if you have a full view of the system
- Take the time to map out the system you're in and the role you're playing
- How might you play a more regenerative role for the system you're in?
- Reference these systems mapping links:
- Explore Green Swans Observatory
- Buy the book:
- Get involved with Civics Unplugged: https://www.civicsunplugged.org/