We hear a lot about sustainability, how to preserve the planet, how we should behave in accordance with the limited resources of this world; but do we really want to change our behaviour, accept new concepts, paradigms, change the prevailing mindset? I once read somewhere “Life is a team sport.” By this logic we need to ensure that the system remains fit if we want to maintain or improve the quality of life. But how can we enhance awareness about that – how can we persuade everyone that is it worthwhile to take care of every resource – including us as people? How can we persuade people that PPP does not only stand for “purchasing power parity”, but more and more for: Planet, People, Profit – whereby profit comes last. A colleague of mine at the University of Ljubljana recently said, “we need successful and profitable companies and development, but profit should never be the only measure of success”. Instead of the concept of profit as we have known and understood it for decades, we need to revolutionize this concept to mean “profit for all’’ – or better yet, translate it to well-being in all senses and all areas of the world.
All this calls for new models and new concepts, and one of these could be regenerative economy: how to give back to society, the economy and the world and keep these systems in balance, as mother nature, our ecosystem has been doing for billions of years. We can learn from our natural ecosystems and endeavor to balance in them to enhance the quality of life for everyone. This requires a change of mindset – from transactional, »mechanical« achievements and goals to a true understanding of sustainable responsibility. In order to achieve this, we need to re-think the economic, social paradigms; change them so that capital is not only used for strengthening economic positions or enabling the development of systems as we know them, but to nurture nature, people and society. For a better future for us all, and especially for all generations to come.
Are we ready to take on this challenge and accept changes it brings with it? The word regenerative is understandable to everyone. Now, as academics, it is our job as to play a part in translating this term into concrete actions. As academics we always start with the research, analysis, proving of the arguments, evaluations. In this case, we need to take it several steps further; we must work to communicate and create awareness and understanding of the limitations of our current system as well as the transformational potential of a new regenerative system. Continuous outreach to relevant stakeholders can bring more and more companies, individuals, institutions and governments on board who can begin to enact different attitudes and begin the process of giving back. Addressing the right stakeholders continuously might bring more and more companies and institutions which can, step by step, start to think about different attitudes towards »give back«. This is not an easy task, but it is one that affects everyone and must therefore involve everyone. Together, in collaboration and with strong cooperation, based on shared values and and a desire for a healthy life-centred future, we can slowly learn how to give back and regenerate our economy.
Are you with us?
Author: Maja Zalaznik, University of Ljubljana