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Regenerative—The New Sustainable?


  • Leah V. Gibbons

    (Sustainable and Regenerative Living Department, Maharishi International University, Fairfield, IA 52557, USA
    Regenerative Living Institute, Mebane, NC 27302, USA
    Regenerative Living Institute, Fairfield, IA 52556, USA)


Over time, sustainability paradigms have evolved from meeting human needs throughout time to improving human wellbeing and the viability of ecological systems. Regenerative sustainability (RS), the next wave of sustainability, includes and transcends these goals, aiming for thriving living systems in which whole-system health and wellbeing increase continually. A key difference between sustainability paradigms is the thinking underlying them, with regenerative sustainability based on a holistic worldview and paradigm, integrating recent understandings from science and practice, different ways of knowing, and inner and outer dimensions of sustainability necessary for systemic transformation. RS, practiced through regenerative development and design for over 50 years, aligns human consciousness and actions with living systems principles. When this alignment occurs, sustainable development goals are elevated to become regenerative development goals, with living systems principles and characteristics guiding the development of regenerative indicators and strategies made specific to a place through transformational co-creative processes. We should aim for regenerative sustainability because it offers holistic approaches based on how thriving living systems function, addresses the root causes of (un)sustainability, and is inherently more inspiring and motivational. Advancing regenerative sustainability will require fundamental shifts supported by more awareness and education, theoretical and practical development, leadership, empowering communities, and integrating spirituality.

Suggested Citation

  • Leah V. Gibbons, 2020. "Regenerative—The New Sustainable?," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 12(13), pages 1-18, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:12:y:2020:i:13:p:5483-:d:381447

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    6. Leah V. Gibbons & Scott A. Cloutier & Paul J. Coseo & Ahmed Barakat, 2018. "Regenerative Development as an Integrative Paradigm and Methodology for Landscape Sustainability," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 10(6), pages 1-20, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Filipe Moreira Alves & Rui Santos & Gil Penha-Lopes, 2022. "Revisiting the Missing Link: An Ecological Theory of Money for a Regenerative Economy," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 14(7), pages 1-18, April.
    2. L. Boronyak & B. Jacobs & A. Wallach & J. McManus & S. Stone & S. Stevenson & B. Smuts & H. Zaranek, 2022. "Pathways towards coexistence with large carnivores in production systems," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 39(1), pages 47-64, March.
    3. Dennis A. Kopf & Maxwell K. Hsu, 2021. "Game Theory, Tourism and Land Ethics," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(15), pages 1-13, July.
    4. Antje Disterheft & Denis Pijetlovic & Georg Müller-Christ, 2021. "On the Road of Discovery with Systemic Exploratory Constellations: Potentials of Online Constellation Exercises about Sustainability Transitions," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(9), pages 1-16, May.
    5. William Craft & Lan Ding & Deo Prasad, 2021. "Developing a Decision-Making Framework for Regenerative Precinct Development," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(22), pages 1-23, November.
    6. Marie Davidová & Kateřina Zímová, 2021. "COLreg: The Tokenised Cross-Species Multicentred Regenerative Region Co-Creation," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(12), pages 1-22, June.

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