GDS Movement: Learning from Nature

16th Mar, 2021

“Nature is not to be conquered or opposed, but she is to be regarded as a model of applied principles: Nature always does things in the most efficient and economic way. We need to learn how nature makes design decisions.” by R. Buckminster Fuller

After 3.6 billion years of research and development, nature is the most advanced living, evolving laboratory of knowledge and circular solutions that regenerate and function in ultimate balance. Nothing is wasted. The human characteristics of greed, poverty and pollution are entirely absent in nature. All elements work together to exist, sharing water, air and open spaces. If they do this successfully, species thrive. If they don’t, they perish. As a result, healthy species consistently learn, innovate, adapt and regenerate. There is an equilibrium between efficiency and resilience, collaboration and competition, diversity and coherence. Each aspect creates value for the broader ecosystem and enables it to flourish as a whole. By building upon this understanding of nature, we have a proposal. For the greater success of our future, we need to imagine and comprehend the events industry as a living ecosystem. By understanding and learning from the structure, systems and processes of our living system, we can redesign it to recover and thrive after the pandemic.

For the last 15 years, the events industry has been on a slow path towards making events more sustainable. Our focus on sustainability has been about surviving instead of thriving but this has not, nor will it, deliver the change we need to see in the industry. Instead, to really create a thriving future, we need to shift the paradigm of business and public thinking, beliefs and values and embrace what regenerative models can offer to all of us. Sustainability implies a self-sustaining state and is often defined by humanity’s ability to meet its own needs without compromising the needs of future generations. Therefore, the focus is on doing less harm. For example, a degraded landscape may be sustained in its current state and be used to produce food for humans, but won’t be improved and brought back to its former biologically diverse state.

The term ‘regeneration’ refers to designing systems and practices that take a holistic systems approach to solving environmental, social and economic problems. The aim is to restore and rejuvenate them rather than merely sustain conditions. As Bill Reed states, “regenerative development asks us to imagine cities, towns and villages that possess greater natural beauty, ecological health and productive capacity than even the world’s most pristine forests”.

It is this vision that we need to bring into reality. By asking nature and implementing the lessons we learn through careful observation and biomimicry, the events industry can co-create a thriving and regenerative future. To accompany this vision, we need to start sharing practical stories of how we can implement the lessons learnt from nature.

The bulk of this article is taken from The Regenerative Revolution - A new paradigm for event management, created by IMEX and the GDS-Movement and powered by Marriott International. Read the full report for free, to delve deeper into the case studies and framework that outline how we can work together to bring this vision into reality.


Guy Bigwood is the managing director of Global Destination Sustainability Movement, a transformation platform that engages, inspires and enables destinations to become more regenerative, flourishing and resilient places to visit, meet and live in. 

Website: GDS.EARTH
Read Full Report at


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