15 Mar Regenerative v. Sustainable: Which Path Forward?
With so many climate change buzzwords in circulation, determining the best path forward can take time and effort. One prime example is the difference between sustainable and regenerative practices.
‘Sustainable development’ was popularised in the 1987 Brundtland Report. The report defined the term as ‘development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.’ In the decades following the report’s publication, the concept of sustainability has entered the mainstream. Commitments to sustainability have been made by prominent individuals, multinational corporations, and entire countries. The term’s ubiquity has led to some questioning its usefulness, and the extent to which pursuing initiatives labelled as ‘sustainable’ is simply a helpful stand-in for making impactful change.
Aside from the rise in the term’s popularity, it is instructive to consider what developing sustainably actually entails when done right. In theory, working to preserve resources is a positive end goal, ensuring that systems are maintained to support future generations. But often in practice, acting sustainably is not sufficient to preserve systems degrading at an ever faster pace under the pressures of climate change.
What else can be done?
Haller’s work focuses on regenerative as opposed to sustainable practices. A regenerative approach acknowledges the damage already inflicted on systems through human action. It aims not to preserve resources as they currently stand, but to restore them to their state prior to human intervention.
Regenerative agriculture focuses on restoring soil health and boosting levels of carbon capture by planting crops that move atmospheric carbon into the soil. At our demonstration farm, we teach groups of farmers simple and transferable techniques to make their current farming practices regenerative. The Haller Farmers App acts as an information hub on regenerative practices – providing smallholders with informative, step-by-step instructions on how to implement regenerative agricultural techniques for themselves.
With agriculture contributing up to a third of all greenhouse gas emissions, focusing on sustainability only addresses part of the problem. Collectively, we must find ways to not only reduce the negative impact agricultural systems have on the climate but ways in which agricultural practices can improve ecosystems and restore biodiversity.
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