Project partners IMTBS spoke to Jean-Jacques Cousineau, Regional Delegate at Les scop et, about how academia, industry and government can work together on bolstering the image of the regenerative economy as a viable, lucrative and life-sustaining alternative to our current extractive economy.
At the local level, community organisations have played a key role in integrating a number of local societal actors into collaborative projects. These projects, link consumers, suppliers, public actors, and disadvantaged communities, among others, to address social challenges with aims that go beyond solely profit. It is within this system that the regenerative economy begins to appear. According to Cousineau, two different but interconnected aspects play key roles in the regenerative economy.
The first is developing an economy not solely focused on profits, and the second is rethinking how we produce and consume as a society. In combining these two ideas, there is great market potential and an opportunity to create a more virtuous economy. This rethinking also requires new forms of production and distribution, starting with the distribution of wealth resulting from technologically-induced productivity gains. This rethinking must also take place at the European level as well and discussions must account for the competencies of each country.
The process of beginning the economic shift in many ways begins at the university level. It is within higher education institutions (HEIs) that knowledge and ideas can begin to demonstrate effectiveness. In the case of the regenerative economy, the research that HEIs produce can demonstrate that the regenerative economy is not only beneficial to individuals in theory but can also be financially sustainable in practice. Education on these matters impacts both society as a whole, through the education of young people about the existence of alternative economic models, and industry by demonstrating to business owners that this model can still be profitable for them. The connection between HEIs and the private sector is crucial as companies can gain access to both knowledge and human capital in addition to training, from the provided by the HEI. The training and capital exchange can go a long way towards convincing companies of the efficacy of the regenerative economy, convincing them to adopt more regenerative business models.
Beyond the credibility that research gives to the regenerative economy, acceptance of such an economy must also come from governments and other public authorities. It is the responsibility of these institutions to promote the regenerative economy and encourage the media to talk about it as “something real, concrete, doable, and not at all as something marginal”, says Cousineau. This leaves companies better able to implement the changes with real political support behind them.
A theme throughout our interview was this combination of support from three different angles (academic, industry, and government) that can help address societal resistance. By showing that there are real models that demonstrate the profitability and success of the regenerative system, it becomes clearer that the regenerative model is not just a utopic idea of communal sharing, but that there are indeed tangible benefits to be made from the system.
Author: Adeline Leroy, Institut Mines-Telecom Business School