Shifting from cleaner production to positive production - understanding the capacity needed to be able to work regeneratively

Click here to download Shifting from cleaner production to positive production - understanding the capacity needed to be able to work regeneratively

Session chairs:
Dr Dominique Hes, Melbourne school of Design, the University of Melbourne
Melbourne, Australia

Prof. Donald Huisingh, Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment,
University of TN, Knoxville, TN, U.S.A.

Dr. ZHANG Xiaoling, Department of Public Policy, City University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong, China

Call for Abstracts for presentations at the Global Cleaner Production and Sustainable Consumption Conference: Accelerating the Transition to Equitable, Sustainable Post-Fossil-Carbon Societies”, to be held in Sitges, Barcelona, Spain, Nov. 1 – 4, 2015.

Cleaner Production has a long history of influencing industry and government on alternate ways of producing its good and services. Yet after 30 years of its practice, and that of other initiatives aimed at more sustainable systems, the planet’s eco-system services are in serious decline. Humanity was incurring resource debt. Cleaner Production is now clearly seen as one of the key strategies that have been used to realise, quantify and understand human consumption and its impact; used to slow this impact down per unit of consumptions. Yet as the Millennium Report 2005, the 2014 IPCC assessment report on climate change, and others indicate that the situation is getting worse, not better; prompting the World Watch Institute, in their 2013 State of the World report, to ask whether sustainability is still possible (WWW, 2013)?

Slowing down our impact per unit of production is important, but as McDonough put it: ‘we are just being less bad’.  Further, as there is increased demand and consumption the slowing down of impact is less effective.  Yet, in the process industry and government have come to realise some of their negative impacts, which has helped to create the search for better practiced. What regenerative development provides is the next step, by asking whether it is possible for there to be positive production. That is, is it possible to design our exchange of goods and services, knowledge and resources in a way that creates net benefits to our social and ecological systems for the short and long-term future?

Regenerative development is part of a new worldview and a new framework. As discussed by many, the reason the sustainability movement has not been successful in reducing its impact is the framework within which we currently practice, teach, make decisions and do our research therefore, in order to achieve meaningful changes in practice, we need to change this framework (Hes and du Plessis, 2014). Our current framework of structuring sustainability practice is couched in the language of quantitative, performance-based indicators that report on performance in isolated categories, compliance with which is largely driven by individual interest: reputational, financial, or simply for avoiding prosecution. Much has been written about the flaws in this framework and its foundation in the so-called mechanistic worldview, as well as the need to shift towards a more relational worldview that will help us develop frameworks suitable for working with living systems (Rees 1999, du Plessis and Cole 2011).

We and others argue that the new worldview could be called the Ecological Worldview (McHarg 1969). Since then numerous authors have explored the characteristics of the emerging Ecological Worldview and its main narratives (McHarg 1969, Goldsmith 1988, Capra 1997, Elgin and Le Drew 1997). The consensus is that the Ecological Worldview represents a shift from looking at the behaviour, performance and interests of individual ‘parts’, to considering the well-being of the whole as expressed through interdependent relationships - a web-of-life of which humans are irreducibly part. This understanding is reflected in the growth process and practices that not only aim to re-integrate humans and nature, but empower humans as active participants in the co-creation of the living systems we inhabit.  Now is the moment to establish and nurture symbiotic links between the new living system and their surrounding areas; this vision is at the heart of the regenerative vision. The second key aspect of this worldview is the understanding that living systems are characterized by change, and therefore uncertainty and unpredictability. In order for societies to thrive sustainably in a world that is in constant change, it is important to build resilience into the social-ecological-economic systems; that means moving away from only improving efficiency, control and conservation to adaptive management designed to increase diversity and redundancy.

This will mean a substantial rethink of the way that production and consumption are envisioned and implemented. This is where the practice of regenerative development may provide new opportunities and new options.. Regenerative development is not only a new way to look at any problem to try to see how the resulting outcomes can be net positive in quantitative and qualitative ways. These concepts have been applied primarily, to date, on built environment projects, wherein the regeneration focus requires answers to the question how can the impacts and resources spent on the outcome, provide the greatest possible benefits in the short and long-term? Not benefit in the terms of number of species increase, Kwhs saved, or toxins removed or not-used, although these are important, but in terms of how the system within the project is stronger and more resilient because of the initiative. Will the system be more adaptive, and be better able to respond to future pressures, changes and be able to continue to progress over time into something more socially-ecologically-economically sustainable.

This workshop will challenge all participate in thinking what this new approach to societal production and consumption in equitable, sustainable, post-fossil carbon societies could be, and what new capacities are needed to start envisioning, designing, building and living in net-regenerative societal contexts.
Unlike other workshops, in this one, we will study a case study of the production processes of a Brewery, ‘New Belgium’ in Fort Collins, Colorado, U.S.A and will learn how they are working regeneratively in their company and in their community.  In the process, we will develop an understanding of the approaches they have taken and develop some rules of thumb for positive production based upon their visions, goals, objectives, journey, and evolving results.
Abstracts are requested that answer the following questions:

  • Are there case studies specifically looking at how net-regeneration was achieved, specifically the capacity the project participants needed to develop to effectively achieve the outcomes? 
  • What resourcing was needed to support regenerative outcomes, and how was this different from conventional practice?
  • Regenerative development is different from other approaches to sustainability as it specifically and purposely engages the mental issues of our engagement with the earth and each other. It outlines that working on the mental level is as important as working on the physical level, what research, case studies and practice is there that shows how this can be done?
  • What new, more effective trans-disciplinary approaches need to be developed to holistically involve social scientists (e.g. geographers, political ecology, etc.), ecologists, economists, design professions (e.g. architects, landscape architects, & engineers,) and public policy & public health experts, to increasingly, help to catalyze implementation of the emerging knowledge of regenerative sustainability?

Format and Procedures for Submission of Responses to this Call for Papers

Authors are invited to prepare and submit abstracts, in English, of 500 words by May 29th, 2015 via the Global Conference website:

After your extended abstract has been reviewed you will be invited to develop a conference paper on the topic. After the Global Conference, some articles will be selected to be developed for potential publication within one of several Special Volumes of the JCLP that will be developed based upon inputs to the Conference.

Based on the panel and provided papers the elements of the workshop will be:

Part 1 - understanding the ‘New Belgium’ brewery, their approach, their methodology through a  presentation

  • group work – how is what they are doing net regenerative?
  • discussion – how is what they are doing net regenerative?
  • the panel will present their answers to this question.

Part 2 – understanding regenerative development and regenerative production and consumption including the ‘harmful to beneficial presentation’.

  • group work – what is regeneration in the context of production and consumption?
  • discussion – what is regeneration in the context of production and consumption?
  • the panel will present their answers to this question.

Part 3 – the capacity to be able to be regenerative 

  • group work – what capacity will your organization or industry partners need to work towards regenerative production and consumption systems?
  • discussion – groups present and panel present their thoughts

Part 4 – resourcing capacity building – what research, investment and support is needed

  • group work – what do we need to do in order to effectively support development of this type of capacity?
  • discussion – groups present and panel present their views, visions and recommendations


Capra, F. (1997). The web of life. London: Flamingo.
du Plessis, C. and Cole, R.J. (2011). Motivating stakeholders: Changing the paradigm. Building Research and Information, 39(5), pp. 436-449.
Elgin, D. & Le Drew, C. (1997). Global consciousness change: Indicators of an emerging paradigm.
Goldsmith, E. (1988). The Way: An ecological worldview. The Ecologist, 18:4/5. Accessed 29/01/2008 from
Hes, D. and Du Plessis, C. (2014) Designing for Hope: Pathways to regenerative sustainability. London: Earthscan by Routledge.
McHarg, I. (1969). Design with Nature. New York: Natural History Press.
Rees, W.E. (1999). Achieving sustainability: reform or transformation? In D. Satterthwaite (ed.) The Earthscan Reader in Sustainable Cities, Earthscan, London, pp. 22–52.
World Watch Institute (2013). State of the World 2013: Is Sustainability Still Possible? Washington, DC: Island Press.

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