Once you have decided that your next project should apply a Regenerative Development Framework, one key element for your success will be your ability to identify what is, and what is NOT a regenerative approach.

When you begin, you undoubtedly complete a site analysis to understand the context of your project. Through it, you will identify things that could be improved or needs that are not met. You will also find trends or community ideals as well as identify the potential of this project to have a positive impact beyond the physical boundaries of the site. But, how do you know if the proposed design will produce the benefit that we aspire?

When you are pondering what to do consider these three interacting elements:

The ACTION PLAN – what is proposed activity?

The IMPACT – who benefits? Include social, economic and environmental benefits.

The TIME FRAME – how long will the solution hold?

In the video below, Dominique Hes uses a popular saying to explain the differences between a ‘regenerative’ and a ‘non-regenerative’ approach.


In front of us we have a hungry man. We perform a quick assessment of the situation and realise that we have the power to help and potentially solve this problem. But what do we do about it? The diagram below complements Dominique’s explanation by highlighting the three elements of the proposed solution. Read the enhanced version of this popular saying on the image below.

Regenerative development in one saying: A written version of the saying highlights the proposed action plan (green), prospected impacts (purple) and the time-frame of that benefit (orange). Image Credits: Michael McGowan, Cris Hernandez, 2016


It is notable that the three action plans effectively solve the issue or problem. The man is no longer hungry. The key differences are that as we move towards the regenerative ‘solution’, the benefit expands at a much wider scope and unlocks the potential of the man to act not only to satiate his hunger but to become a catalyser and creative force enabling new relationships between himself, his community, and the environment that they are a part of.

It is also important to learn when to ask for help and to whom. The big picture goals require collaboration between many disciplines and organisations in particular at the early stages of the project. This collaboration, more times than not, will lead to conflict; however, more than a hindrance, this conflict is needed to help expand the boundaries of the project towards the regenerative goals.

How do you identify a regenerative approach?

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