There is no doubt of the need to rapidly address the social and environmental issues facing humanity today. Thankfully, the global creative and business communities have started to adapt and take action by design, moving beyond the ‘business as usual’ approach of commodification of natural resources to the shift towards a circular and regenerative economy.
Sustainability has taken on many cultural meanings since it was first widely used in the 1990’s to describe economic growth in line with biosystem constraints. But the real essence of this word is to make decisions today that won't negatively impact the ability for future generations to live the same, if not a better, quality of life that we enjoy.
The shift toward a regenerative economy was ignited in 1987 when the Our Common Future (referred to as the Brundtland Report after the main author) report came out as part of the Rio Earth Summit. It was then that the word sustainability was catapulted into the public arena, used to frame the call for a global commitment to overcoming negative impacts associated with overconsumption and natural resource exploitation. It positioned a new way of economically developing within the Earth’s carrying capacity.
There have been many attempt to get this right, and like any new arena, there have been many failures. But thanks to the progressive scientific community, we are discovering so much more about Earth's interconnected ecosystems, which in turn is allowing us to design products, services, and systems that meet our needs without creating more problems.