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Tropical Leaves

Key Concepts

What You Need To Know

Stuck on what 'Circular' and 'Regenerative' mean, in need a refresh, or keen to expand your knowledge? Check out the tiles below. 

At PROJECT:MOONSHOT we believe that place-based innovation can accelerate a systems-shift to a regenerative future.


This means we're not just interested in systems (such as the flows of materials, products, energy, people, wealth etc): we're interested in how different places and communities interact with, and inform, these systems.


It's clear our current 'linear' systems are broken and we need to redesign them to enable a regenerative future.

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From 'Sustainable' to 'Regenerative'

Regenerative is a word that is on the verge of becoming meaningless through overuse. We're keen to protect its value. 


It means different things in different industries and contexts, and we will be exploring these in our work with the Moonshot Map.


For us at Moonshot, regenerative means going beyond 'sustainable' to genuinely restoring our ecosystems, and co-creating prosperous urban and rural communities which thrive within our planetary boundaries. 

For one of the only science-based frameworks to take businesses on the journey to sustainable then regenerative, check out the free Future-Fit Business Benchmark

Herbert Girardet defines a regenerative [system] as one built on an environmentally enhancing, restorative relationship with natural systems from which the [system] draws resources. Girardet specifically refers to this concept in the context of cities which has been helpful in our Moonshot:City exploration. 

We are also part of the RSA Regenerative Futures community whose vision is "A world where people and communities harness their potential to be sources of health and regeneration for all life on earth"

Which is cool.

Circular Economics

We're aiming for a regenerative Aotearoa, and circular economy models are one way to get there, alongside other approaches (see below)

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation proposes three principles of circular economy:

  • design out waste and pollution;

  • keep products and materials in use; and

  • regenerate natural systems.

The circular economy system diagram, known as the butterfly diagram (see right), illustrates the continuous flow of materials in the economy. There are two main cycles – the technical cycle and the biological cycle.


In the technical cycle, products are kept in circulation in the economy through reuse, repair, remanufacture and recycling. In this way, materials are kept in use and never become waste.


In the biological cycle, the nutrients from biodegradable materials are returned to the Earth, through processes like composting or anaerobic digestion. This allows the land to regenerate so the cycle can continue.

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 Doughnut Economics

We absolutely support the systems-shift that circular models offer. But circular economics doesn't explicitly consider the social, cultural or natural capital context that we live in, or our planetary boundaries.

The first economic model Co-Founder Juhi Shareef came across which offered an effective, modern context for the circular economy was the doughnut, developed by  acclaimed economist and author, Kate Raworth (see left).


Juhi worked with soil scientist, linguist and Moonshot Advisor Teina Boasa-Dean to bring an indigenous context to the doughnut model. Teina not only translated the doughnut into Te Reo Māori, but reimagined it from an indigenous worldview.

In the Insights section below,  listen to Teina in our podcast - also the most read story at the time on the Doughnut Economics Action Lab platform

Wind Turbines in the Mountains

Aiming to Thrive

For Priti and Juhi, regenerative is the 'why' and circular is the 'how', along with other approaches and frameworks such as biomimicry, the Future-Fit Business Benchmark, Cradle to Cradle, the Sustainable Development Goals etc.

Watch this film (right) by Sustainable Human to see what we mean by a thriving world.

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