When I ran for VP of Communications for my graduate program’s student association, I mentioned the idea of creating a Charter Message for our association of students to serve as a long term manifesto that would guide and inspire. Many heads were nodding throughout the room as I spoke of the common values we all shared, and just how unique our program was in terms of our diverse experience, spirit and drive to create true, lasting, positive change.
This program was not just an education, it was a mission that united us, a vision that we hold deep in our hearts – a vision and common mission that those who work in sustainability, the circular economy, impact investing, social enterprise and innovation, permaculture and many others share.
The Human Element
My hope is that this Charter can be adapted to define our collective goal as a species — not just for one graduate program. Is is also my hope that this becomes a living document that is added to and improved upon, and that any and all people who endeavor to create positive impact for all life — human and non-human alike — will utilize this as a holistic and inspiring declaration of a collective net-generative (and not just “sustainable”) vision for design and innovation. I would also like to find a way to acknowledge every person who contributes to its development and evolution.
The Regeneration Charter
As students and apprentices of our natural world’s 3.8 billion years of sustainability wisdom and stewards of our planet, we hereby declare our dedication and commitment to the pursuit of an environmentally sustainable, socially responsible and economically prosperous future, so that human and natural ecosystems are enriched and enhanced.
As current and future practitioners of sustainable design and social innovation, we recognize that sustainability is not a pursuit of perfection, nor a conclusive task, but rather an active progression, a life-sustaining path we are paving for future generations to build upon, for “we do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, but borrow it from our Children.”
We see sustainability as an ethic that guides all decision making. And as such, understand that this paradigm shift compels us to take all economic, social and environmental aspects of any situation or issue, into equal consideration within our personal and professional responsibilities, as together they are one in the same.
We must become producers of ecosystem services.
As students and practitioners of this evolving realm of thought, we understand that sustainability is not only about sustaining our natural resources, but creating added value and giving back to the interconnected and interdependent systems from which we take, for “we must become producers of ecosystem services” (Janine Benyus). We will work to regenerate and rejuvenate the natural cycles that sustain us, as well as greater social and natural ecosystems.
We recognize today’s global issues are complex and that answers will not be easily identified, but we are committed to finding them. In pursuit of holistic solutions, we vow to think in a systemic way that engages all stakeholders including indigenous peoples, consumers, shareholders, policy makers, parents, children, employees, employers, as well as the plants, animals and ecosystems themselves which can serve as our best consultants and teachers.
We will humbly listen to and learn from the earth, as our mentor.
We appreciate the wisdom embedded in the natural world, from a single blade of grass to an entire rainforest, and will humbly listen to and learn from the earth, as our mentor.
In pursuing holistic solutions, we realize that one “cannot solve problems using the same thinking that created them”, and hereby assert our dedication to whole-systems thinking, which will spark the profound change we all seek for a prosperous future for all life on this planet, human and non-human alike.
By re-thinking, re-imagining and re-designing systems, products and services, we recognize that innovative technologies are not always big and complex, and may come in very simple, yet innovative forms.
We endeavor to bring stakeholders together … with one united voice of sustainable, regenerative design and intent.
As professionals with cross-disciplinary backgrounds, we understand the complex ways in which all systems are connected, and welcome our unique responsibility as translators between fields, sectors and industries. We will work to build cross-sector partnerships that leverage the unique assets of each entity to create lasting positive change. We endeavor to bring stakeholders together, foster relationships, and build existing networks to address global issues with one united voice of sustainable, regenerative design and intent.
We are the human element.
We are the human element, and pledge to undertake issues of global significance as stewards of this earth. We are dedicated to acting as a catalyst for positive change and added value. Sustainability is an iterative process, and one that requires continuous feedback and improvement so that our businesses and societies not only survive, but thrive, and not only adapt, but evolve and improve.
This is a living document that will continue to evolve as new knowledge is acquired within this ever-growing paradigm. We hope you will join us in this, our collective cause for our people, for our planet and for prosperity.
The Earth Charter
The Designers Accord
Photos courtesy of TheStocks.im
Image-making with Canva.com