The health and survival of every Value Chain and every individual depend on the health of the surrounding world. We have created a society and a way of life that will most certainly not continue to provide the opportunity for people and other life to flourish on earth forever. We degrade and disrupt the earth’s natural processes and deplete the resources on which humanity and all other life depend. Social inequality is rising, and the basic needs of millions of people are not being met.

We are under immense pressure

We witness immense pressure and stress not just in our societies, economies, and ecosystems. Our minds and bodies are “out of order,” too. We have never been as stressed out as we are today. Addressing issues like climate change, biodiversity loss, refugees, food waste, and widespread degradation can be difficult when constantly stressed.

We have moved from a Holocene state – that is, a state in which the earth was able to regenerate the resources that we humans use, to an Anthropocene state, i.e., a state in which we humans use more resources than the earth can manage to regenerate. We have been reminded of this with “Earth overshoot day” (Earth overshoot day, 2022). As an example, Denmark had already, on March 28, 2022, used the number of resources that corresponds to the fact that if the Earth’s total population lived as we do, we would have used all the resources that the earth can regenerate in a year. 3/4 of the year is still left, and the resources we use here on the earth cannot be regenerated.

How will if affect us as human beings?

  • Extreme high temperatures – intense droughts, wildfires, and heatwaves
  • Sea levels will rise 1-4 feet by 2100, and sea temperature will increase significantly
  • Ocean acidification alters water chemistry, affecting the life cycles of many marine organisms
  • Heavier rainfall, hurricanes, storms, and floods
  • Melting of snow and ice like ice caps, glaciers, and permafrost that could release catastrophic levels of methane gasses, creating run-away climate change

How will it affect us as humans?

  • Increasing hunger and water crisis, particularly in less developed countries
  • Making large parts of the southern hemisphere increasingly inhospitable, causing massive numbers of climate refugees and potentially even wars fought due to the friction this will cause
  • Impacting crops, plants, and fruit trees
  • Rising air temperatures and heat waves, which will have health effects and increase viruses and pathogens
  • Increasing biodiversity loss since many species cannot adapt to rapid rises in temperature
  • Increasing natural catastrophes causing damage to homes and communities

What is the difference between sustainability and regeneration?

Sustainability and regenerative practices are related concepts that both focus on environmental and social responsibility, but they have distinct differences in their approaches and goals. Sustainability is often defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It emphasizes the responsible use of resources and the reduction of negative impacts on the environment and society.

Sustainable practices aim to maintain the status quo or slow down environmental degradation. They seek to minimize harm, conserve resources, and reduce waste. Examples include recycling, energy efficiency, and responsible consumption. Sustainability tends to focus on minimizing the negative impact of human activities on the environment and society, striving for balance and stability.

Regenerative practices take a more proactive approach, seeking to restore and revitalize systems, ecosystems and collaborations. The goal is to not only sustain but also improve the health and resilience of natural systems. Regenerative agriculture, for instance, focuses on building soil health and biodiversity, ultimately leading to more productive and resilient farmland. In addition to environmental regeneration, regenerative approaches often aim to enhance social and economic systems. This can involve fostering societal well-being, creating equitable systems, and supporting local economies.

In summary, sustainability is about maintaining a steady state or minimizing harm, while regeneration is about actively restoring and improving the health and vitality of ecosystems and societies. Both concepts share the goal of responsible resource management and reducing negative impacts, but regenerative practices go beyond sustainability by actively seeking to make positive contributions to the environment and society.

Summing up

Neutrality, or “do no further harm,” is increasingly seen as an insufficient ambition in light of the natural capital losses and climate tipping points, which threaten the health, security, and livelihoods of billions. That is why implementing regenerative principles into the core design of your company is key.