turn plastics – a long-lived material that is briefly used in short-term packaging – into long-lived products such as building materials, bollards, decking, fence posts and garden furniture. But, again, the right price signals are required to make this possible.
These three systemic crises can only be addressed by implementing various aspects of regenerative development. Moving from linear to circular systems, as advocated by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, has both biological and technical components:
Circularity of living systems Perhaps the greatest challenge facing us is to turn modern economies and urban systems from linear into circular modes. Nature operates as an essentially circular system and invariably all its waste products become sources of new growth: every output by an organism is also an input that renews the living environment. Can we organise our economies to fit this model?
Pavan Sukhdev, president of WWF, argues that we need to overcome the problem of the economic invisibility of Nature. To align economic and ecological systems, it is crucially important to understand that the value of ecosystems services is vast, and, as estimated by ecological economist Robert Costanza, probably more than double the value of the global economy.
The concept of regenerative development, first and foremost, has to be anchored in a clear understanding of the integral and interdependent nature of living systems, with the sun powering all life processes on Earth. Creating regenerative economies means, above all else, doing everything possible to stimulate the regenerative capacity of Nature by deliberate policies and incentives.
To align economic and ecological systems it is crucially important to understand that the value of ecosystems services is vast, and probably more than double the value of the global economy
Crucially, we need to develop a comprehensive new understanding of the non-entropy of living systems. According to quantum physicist Erwin Schroedinger, “Life seems to be orderly and lawful behaviour of matter, not based exclusively on its tendency to go over from order to disorder, but based partly on existing order that is kept up … We must be prepared to find a new type of physical law prevailing in it … From all we have learnt about the structure of living matter, we must be prepared to find it working in a manner that cannot be reduced to the ordinary laws of physics.”
Similarly, according to one of the founders of general systems theory, Ludwig von Bertalanffy, “the conventional formulations of physics are, in principle, inapplicable to the living organism [as being] open system and steady state, and we may well suspect that many characteristics of living systems which are paradoxical in view of the laws of physics are a consequence of this fact.”
Under the right conditions, biological resources will always tend to renew themselves, and the inherent
22 Resurgence & Ecologist
Tête-à-Tête by Ilyana Martínez 11" x 15", watercolour, gouache, and ink on paper, 2016