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The Commonwealth hosted a gathering on Regenerative Development to Reverse Climate Change

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A recent two-day gathering on 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.

Baroness Scotland opened the two days of intense collaboration with the challenge to those present to help reframe the global conversation about climate change. She suggested that rather than responding to an inevitably negative problem, we should address climate change as an opportunity for transformative change. We can begin to solve humanity's most urgent challenges by going beyond adaptation and mitigation and actively contributing to reversing climate change.

Regenerative development at the local and regional scale can help to bio-sequester carbon into soils, food, bio-materials and forests, while creating the basis for healthy communities and ecosystems and thriving regional bio-economies. The experts gathered at Marlborough House all agreed about this potential opportunity to reverse climate change while implementing the SDGs at the same time based on a systemic approach.

Discussions centred on carbon negative solutions to keep global warming below 1.5 C above pre industrial levels and eventually reverse the warming already under way. Participants explored symbiotic solutions between agro-ecology, permaculture, ecological engineering, cooperative organisations, open source production, education, shared governance and ethical investments. Some sessions focused on so-called big picture ideas, looking at Earth as a complex system, and some on strategies to reach impact on a global scale by spreading locally regenerative solutions with sensitivity to the bio-cultural diversity of each place.

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 contribution for these efforts to be successful is to train multipliers with the practical skills and analytic depth to train further generations of educators, scientists, innovators and leaders in each locality. The education working group explored what a placed-based, community-led, curriculum informed by whole systems thinking would look like. It would invite local people on a learning journey that would give them the skills necessary to redesign and replace the extractive consumer economy with one that eliminates the concept of waste, uses energy and materials with great efficiency, and adopts some basic measures of successful regeneration. The ecologist John Dennis Liu suggested three simple metrics: increase in biomass, increase in biodiversity, and increase in the amount of organic matter stored in healthy soils.

Among the Commonwealth’s 52 member states, climate change is the most urgent challenge, as 31 of the 37 most climate change endangered countries are in the Commonwealth. For its smallest island members, climate change is an immediate existential threat. Collectively responding to that threat 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 a common purpose."

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Gaia Education's May East and Dr Daniel Wahl were present at the gathering

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Hear more from the Global Action Programme ESD Clearinghouse here