Regenerative urban futures - creating a narrative of hope and empowerment
Anthropogenic climate change continues to deliver worsening ecological, social and economic impacts globally. Urban centres are particularly central to this crisis given their massive resource consumption and rapid population growth. Prevailing technological sustainability approaches seek to mitigate further harm by reducing resource consumption, increasing efficiency and minimising environmental impact. They are primarily underpinned by a reductionist worldview that separates human objectives from those of the natural world. In contrast, regenerative approaches to urban sustainability have emerged out of an ecological worldview and aim to achieve net positive outcomes as a result of co-evolutionary relationships between social and ecological systems.
Exploring both dominant sustainability paradigms and regenerative approaches through a futures lens provides further insights into the beliefs, epistemologies and assumptions that underpin thinking and practice. The use of causal layered analysis, in particular, provides a means to explore the litany, systems, worldviews and myth/metaphor that support various approaches to sustainability. This paper uses the results of a causal layered analysis of regenerative urban sustainability approaches to explore implications for language and communications. It particularly draws on findings from the worldview and myth-metaphor layers to consider how a hopeful and empowering narrative can be cultivated to empower communities to pursue regenerative futures.