From doing less harm to doing more good

By mimicking nature’s regenerative principles in our systems and structures, we can create a future where we all flourish, says regenerative futurist Marc Buckley.

Imagine a field. How do you manage it in a sustainable manner? Sustainability in this case would be about, for instance, making sure you don’t deplete the soil nutrients or over-harvest the vegetables. Sustainability emphasises maintaining what we have. It’s about meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This often involves reducing our impact on the environment and using resources responsibly.

Now, enter a new, related concept: regenerative futurism. That would be about actively adding compost to improve the soil, planting cover crops to fix nitrogen, and attracting beneficial insects to create a more balanced and resilient ecosystem. Regenerative futurism goes beyond just maintaining. It aims to actively improve the state of the world. It focuses on practices that not only minimise harm but also actively restore and revitalise natural systems. It aspires to create a future where humans and the environment can thrive together.

Marc Buckley is a regenerative futurist, ecological economist, author, advocate for the the UN’s SDGs, solarpunk, member of the World Economic Forum Expert Network, and award-winning Global Food Systems reformist. He is currently in Malta to participate in the Green Vision Summit & Expo, a first-time event bringing under one roof in Malta influential voices advocating for bridging the gap between knowledge and action in creating a sustainable future.

Mark Buckley addressing the Green Vision Summit & Expo.

The Journal sat down with Prof. Buckley at the MFCC in Ta’ Qali, where the conference is happening till Thursday 2nd May, and went straight to the point: Is ‘regenerative futurism’ just another buzzword?

“Sure, it’s become a trendy term,” he admitted, “but regeneration isn’t just a fad. It’s the very essence of life on this planet, a 3.8 billion-year-old process. When we talk about regeneration, we’re essentially learning from nature’s playbook. By mimicking its regenerative principles in our systems and structures, we can create a future where we all flourish.”

Asked about the arid, rocky, resource-limited islands that form the Maltese archipelago, he says that there is a way to regenerate any place on earth. “In Western China, the Loess Plateau used to look like Mars. It was 27 million hectares of land on which nothing grew; it was absolite desert, desolate. They have restrored the entire area through regenerative practices,” he said. Even in a hot and rocky place like Malta, undeveloped areas can be transformed into flourishing ecosystems. By introducing plants that thrive in dry conditions and using regenerative agricultural practices, on can increase water retention, biodiversity, and overall abundance.

Marc Buckley also suggested that Malta invest more into regenerative tourism, which goes beyond just sustainable tourism. It’s a philosophy that aims to have a positive impact on the destinations one visits, leaving them in a better state than one finds them by actively seeking to improve their social, cultural, and environmental well-being. Some examples of regenerative tourism practices are volunteering at a local conservation project, staying at eco-lodges that are committed to sustainability and community support, participating in cultural exchange programmes with local communities, and choosing travel companies that are committed to responsible tourism practices.

Main photo: Artur Roman

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