What is regeneration?

Regenerate: to make anew, to bring forth, to restore

“Regeneration are those actions and processes which allows life to maintain in good health, but at the same time also restore life in ecosystems – from micro organisms up to large populations.” Andrea Illy, Co-Chair: The Regenerative Society Foundation (1)

Regeneration is not a “new thing”

Regeneration is an important aspect of the cycles of life. Without it life would not exist. Healthy living systems are inherently regenerative – and healthy humans are too.

Regeneration in Nature

My interest in nature’s ability to regenerate started during childhood when I encountered dried lichen in the Namib desert near Swakopmund- these were thousands of years old, survived cycles of severe droughts and were almost instantly revived with a small amount of water. I also saw how geckos grow back their tails.

Regeneration in Mythology

Stories of regeneration abound in human culture. In pre-Christian Norse mythology and long before Marvel Comics and Walt Disney, Iduna is the goddess of revitalization and rejuvenation. She is the keeper of the coveted fruits of immortality, and a member of the Norse gods associated with vitality and life.

Regeneration in Video Games

Gaming enthusiasts are familiar with the importance of keeping up their avatar’s life force and vitality. Regenerative activities and rewards are often built into the game play. From collecting plants to eat, to mixing and drinking elixirs, to completing side quests to peaceful communities to gain skills and rewards, game designers have found fun ways for gamers to learn the importance of investing in maintaining and improving the avatar’s vigour, powers and longevity for successful completion of quests and ultimately the game.

Attributes of regeneration

Here are some of the qualities and attributes of a regenerative system:

  • Replenishing
  • Syntropic (anti-entropy)
  • Anti-Fragile and robust
  • Focus on the complexity and uniqueness of each place
  • Promotes positive energy balance in a system
  • Making a system new and even better than it was before
  • Increasingly requires less energy and resources to gain the same or even better outputs (increasing return with lower investment in energy and resources)
  • Biophilia (love for natural world and life)
  • Living systems, nature metaphors and natural world consciousness is dominant
  • Versatile therefore having mechanisms to prevent knock-on effect of failure (if one domino falls, others are prevented from starting to fall too)

What is the opposite of regeneration?

Sometimes it helps to look at opposites to understand a concept.

Using Andrea Illy’s definition above, I describe degeneration as “those activities and processes which depletes the life needed to maintain good health and vitality, and at the same time also remove the life and vitality in ecosystems – from micro organisms up to large populations.”

Attributes of degeneration

Here are some of the qualities and attributes of a degenerative system:

  • Depletion
  • Entropy
  • Fragile and brittle
  • Simplification and generalizing: treating everything including places and humans as if they are the same everywhere
  • Amplifies negative energy imbalance in a system
  • Making a system as something outdated, accelerating ageing and obsolescence
  • Increasingly requires higher energy and resources to gain the same outputs (diminishing return on investment)
  • Biophobia (fear and disdain of nature)
  • Machines, machine metaphors and machine consciousness is dominant
  • Mono (limited versatility) creating knock-on effect of failure (one domino falls, others start falling too)

Here is a question:

Is the tourism industry a degenerative system or a regenerative system?


Regenerative action produces meaningful living, happiness and wellbeing, while also ultimately addressing the current environmental destruction and climate change challenges.

Incorporating regeneration into your life provides opportunities to find new sources for financial wellbeing, inspires recovering of bio-diversity and creates motivation to protect natural, living capital for next generations.

Recommend resource

Watch “Life in Syntropy” by Agenda Gotsch to see how regeneration works in practice – in this example, how agro-forestry can address challenges with soil erosion while improving the climate to make it easier to grow food and have a happy vocation.

© 2022 MaRi Eagar