Commonwealth leading across disciplines to restore land and sea ecosystems

08 November 2016

A recent two-day gathering Regenerative Development to Reverse Climate Change hosted by the Commonwealth brought together biologists, ecologists, oceanographers, educators, systems thinkers and other leading experts on carbon sequestration, biomimicry, circular economy and regenerative development.

The panel of experts was tasked by Commonwealth Secretary General Baroness Patricia Scotland with developing an ambitious carbon reduction programme that doesn’t just mitigate the impacts of climate change, but actually reverses its effects.

“We want to [get rid of] climate change as quickly as we can by developing a regenerative development model through which to promote the advancement of what is largely viable and complements, respects and restores the natural environment and I want to get it there quickly” says Baroness Scotland.

Discussions centred on carbon negative solutions to keep global warming below 1.5 C above pre industrial levels and explored symbiotic solutions between agro-ecology, permaculture, ecological engineering, cooperative organisations, open source production, climate education, shared governance and ethical investments. Some sessions focused on so-called big picture ideas, looking at Earth as a complete system, and some on strategies to scale-up regenerative efforts.

A key component for these efforts is to train multipliers with the practical skills and analytic depth to train further generations of educators, scientists, innovators and leaders. The education group explored what a placed-based, community-led, systems-wide curriculum would look like- a learning journey that replaces the extractive consumer economy with one that eliminates the concept of waste, uses energy and materials with great efficiency, and adopts ecologist Jon Dennis Liu three simple metrics: biomass, biodiversity, soil organic matter.

Among the Commonwealth’s 52 members, climate change is the most urgent challenge. For its smallest island members, it is an existential threat. It is a challenge that unites the Commonwealth, according to its Secretary General. “We are 2.4 billion people on half the land area in the world. We are joined by common language and common culture. And now we are joined in common purpose.”