Regenerative Urbanism

We will explore the multiple facets of regenerative urbanism, an emerging paradigm in city innovation that uses living systems as a model for designing more productive, resilient, and equitable urban places. We will hear from leading regenerative city practitioners, examine global precedents and case studies, assess regenerative tools and frameworks, discuss implementation factors (technologies, policies, finance, and governance), with a multiculturally literate understanding of how things get done within cities and bureaucracies, and explore the regenerative approach’s robust value proposition.

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This track will explore the multiple facets of regenerative urbanism, an emerging paradigm and practice for city innovation that uses living systems as a model to inspire ‘net positive’ levels of urban performance. The regenerative approach constructs a frame of reference for design, planning, and developing urban places that:

  • Create more resources than they consume, ensuring that critical resources are secure and affordable for decades to come
  • Eliminate waste by managing resources within a circular metabolism model
  • Cultivate abundant healthy and natural food within each community
  • Align with nature’s cycles and processes to restore degraded ecosystems and enhance biodiversity
  • Utilize community-based finance and governance models
  • Enhance social mobility, qualities of life, and a community’s unique identity of place

We will hear from leading practitioners with expertise in fields such as Biophilic Cities, Circular Economy, Urban Ecology, Wise Cities, Neighborhood Economics, EcoBlocks/Districts, Compassionate Cities, Living Buildings, and Community Placemaking. We will explore the intersections between these fields as an effort to catalyze more productive, resilient, equitable, and beautiful urban places. We will examine real-world examples of communities successfully implementing elements of the regenerative urbanism approach, and assess regenerative tools and frameworks that are designed to guide communities towards regenerative success. We will also collaboratively discuss implementation factors such as technologies, policies, finance, and governance models, with a multi-culturally literate understanding of how things get done within cities and bureaucracies. Lastly, we will work to develop a compelling value proposition based on focusing regenerative attention on the most marginalized communities first, looking at community health coupled with community wealth as an approach that in the end will be lower cost and faster than other approaches to system change.

Networks of Networks

Place based networks to create inclusive community wealth in a neighborhood, a city and an economic bioregion are springing up and gaining traction all over. In some places they are linking with incumbent community development networks. These networks are just in the early stages of learning how to cooperate and share what’s working with other networks. We convene network leaders to explore the overlaps and find the easy wins.

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The founding collaborative of the John Fullerton and Stuart Cowan led Capital Institute’s regenerative community networks, designing the six sessions along with Kwaku Osei’s Cooperative Capital network and Neighborhood Economics network of 25 plus cities with innovative financial tools to bridge the friends and family gap for entrepreneurs who don’t have a rich aunt will be shaping the sessions where networks learn to share their solutions and their common problems. Building protocols and perhaps technology to enable that sharing and beginning to deploy shared services like a funds of funds collectively managed within a network will be on the agenda. We are already seeing multiple lasting cross network collaborations, emerge as we build this track, and one merger of two networks is under way.

Restoring the Earth: Food, Soil, Agriculture, & Climate Drawdown

We face two looming global challenges: to produce enough food for everyone, and to halt and even roll back climate change. This theme will explore urgent questions: How do we increase nutrition and biodiversity while “drawing down” enough CO2 into living soil to avert climate disaster? How can companies and consumers support regenerative food production? How can control of seeds, land, waters, knowledge, and culture be placed back in the hands of local people who feed the world?

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The current industrial food production model is broken. Chemical-dependent agriculture is destroying ecosystems and communities. Meanwhile, regenerative farming can increase living soil, family health, and biodiversity while “drawing down” CO 2 to mitigate or even reverse climate change. How can we scale up proven methods to ignite broad-based system transformation? We will:

  • Hear from leading natural products companies about the challenges and opportunities of building a regenerative supply chain from seed to shelf—and how consumers can mobilize their food purchasing power
  • Look at the ways –and examine the claims– that no-till cultivation and holistic management of the world’s grazing can not only restore ecosystems, but help reverse climate change
  • Introduce models of support, incentives, education, and R&D to help farmers who want to transition to regenerative (especially how to overcome financing and market obstacles)
  • Learn from scientists who have invented composting methods that dramatically increase soil organic matter (a potential game-changer)
  • Dig into the policies and politics of giving back control of seeds, landscapes, water, and knowledge to indigenous producers. (Could the world’s 500 million marginalized regenerative farmers receive climate mitigation funds for “carbon farming” while helping to nourish a growing population?)
  • Showcase open-source data platforms and new technologies (including “fin-tech” and “blockchain” ) that could ignite a global regenerative revolution
  • Evaluate varying approaches to standards and practices, certification and labeling
  • Learn how regenerating soil and ecosystems can greatly enhance human health — from microbes in the gut to nutritious food on the table

We’ll explore together how a regenerative food and agriculture system could conserve and replenish the web of life.

Innovative Finance

What is regenerative finance? How can financing innovations be regenerative and how are they truly new and different to what’s already out there? How can new replicable financial tools that combine community wealth creation with environmental restoration be mobilized and opportunities de-risked for projects at different scales? How can indigenous and local producer communities become successful shareholders? How can new “fintech” unleash new investments that are respectful of communities and conservation?

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A regenerative business must function like a living system, but existing financial products don’t support regenerative time-frames and rather than valuing communities as true partners, investments too often extract profits at the expense of local stakeholder equity. There is a disconnect between time to market and investors’ demand for quick returns and there is inequity in the distribution of profits. The gap exists when converting from industrial farming to the restorative cultivation that builds healthy topsoil and “draws down” carbon from the atmosphere; or on strategies for conserving African wildlife through equitably sharing the nature-based tourism revenues accrued from foreign visitors with the communities that bear the true cost of living with that wildlife. Investors simply want too much money too fast and don’t create reciprocal relationships. We can change that.

Pioneering efforts all over the world are today creating innovative financial products to bridge this gap. We will share what’s working, what’s not and why, while probing the structural, systemic and political gaps and barriers that remain – establishing new ways to collaborate after the event to evolve more solutions together. This track is a horizontal one; showing up within existing themes, within concrete examples where gap filling finance is needed.