Question: We hear a lot about the term “regeneration”. Is there a difference between it and sustainability?
Answer from Terry Gips, Alliance President: The Alliance has always felt regeneration was an essential part of its definition of sustainability: “ecologically sound, economically viable, socially just and humane, embodying our highest values in terms of how we treat people, animals and the planet.” According to Merriam Webster, regeneration is an act or the process of regenerating; spiritual renewal or revival; renewal or restoration of a body, bodily part, or biological system after injury or as a normal process.
Consequently, we welcome the regeneration movement and feel it’s an important part of the world of sustainability we’re trying to co-create. As one of the first pioneers of the definitions of sustainability back nearly 40 years ago, we see it as a North Star, a vision of the world we’d like to create. It’s a holistic, integrative and ever-evolving perspective that embodies all aspects of culture and life. Sustainability encompasses regeneration, resilience, permaculture, circular economy, and other cutting-edge approaches.
While some say regeneration goes beyond sustainability, claiming sustainability just means to “sustain” the present system, we’ve never supported that meaning. Others say the term has gotten watered down in light of corporate green washing. We agree that sustainability, like any other good term, has been misused by some. We have always exposed that deception and countered that it’s rather self-evident when companies mis-use the term because it’s clear they haven’t achieved sustainability.
It’s our hope that those who share similar values and goals will choose whatever term(s) they prefer and work together to achieve them rather than engaging in all-too-typical dissing of one another.