Learning about Sustainability and Systemic Solutions

Systemic solutions are the most reasonable way to address sustainability. This article by Desiree Driesenaar gives real, practical responses to achieving sustainability.

Updated: May 14, 2023
Desiree Driesenaar


[Originally published on Medium]

Many people ask me how they can learn. About the way forward. About environmental issues. About climate change, sustainability and regeneration. About how to align economy, ecology and the human spirit.

Well, I’m working on the book, guys and girls. But it’s not ready yet! Have a little patience with me…

In the meantime, there’s a lot of information available that can already be eaten, digested and build upon. So I grouped some of it together.

People who know my work, know all my knowledge is open source. Everybody is welcome to use it and build upon it. Please read, have insights, and give your own flavor to the next step on our joined path.

Together we can get this knowledge out there in the world. We need it!

(And if you need friends-links to get past the paywall, reach out via LinkedIn or Facebook and I’ll send them to you…)

If you tag me in your own work, I’ll be sure to share it as well. We need as much diversity out there as we can manage! The ReGeneration is within our grasp. Let’s get on with it…

Before I dive into the articles, let me share my motto again:

“Let’s restore ecosystems and learn as human beings how to live within the boundaries of our planet”

In short:

  • We need to restore what we f**cked up. Healthy soil, healthy oceans, and healthy freshwater cycles play a big part in this task for governments, businesses, and citizens
  • We need to redefine our economy. Stop hoarding useless stuff in our too-big houses. Live small, start an edible garden, rewild your soul and have fun!
  • We need to redefine our businesses. Companies should be making products for basic needs and soulful experiences. We can definitely do this by changing our business models driver from scale to synergy. Earning enough money to be resilient. And creating other values such as clean water, clean air and healthy soil in the process
  • We need designers who work with local, abundantly available materials, that are biodegradable in soil, freshwater, and saltwater. These materials already exist. They are e.g. seaweed, bamboo, industrial hemp, mycelium (fungi), and micro-organisms (bacteria). Coffee waste and other biodegradable rest streams are wonderful materials as well
  • We need to change our mindset from scarcity to abundance and think systemically. Systemic solutions are definitely possible. It just needs zooming out, seeing what’s really important and having the guts to implement the solutions
  • We need to prevent waste. Let’s use care while shopping and responsibility for handling waste. And if we create waste anyway, we need to use it as a resource for other products
  • Islands are a perfect experimenting ground for the new economies. They have clear boundaries and can add money to their system by preventing imports. Being self-sustaining as much as possible

Well, there’s more. But that’s for the book. So let’s give you some in-depth insights into what’s available now. I’ll stick to the best-liked and explanatory stories. If you want my full portfolio, just have a look at Desiree Driesenaar.

Every story is unique and has a specific angle.

handful of soil / Noah Buscher / Unsplash

handful of soil / Noah Buscher / Unsplash

Why? And why now?

We have destroyed the natural ecosystems and deforestation is still happening every day. However, there are many viruses that live with a unique host. A certain animal. When the habitats of these animals disappear, the species die and the virus has to find a new host.

Respected scientists, ecologists, have already warned long before this coronavirus that we’re at risk. The viruses take humans as their new hosts. And we get ill.

We are with many. Packed close together. So they invade us.

Cause and effect. Very natural. That’s what viruses do. They invade…

So we urgently need to rebalance the ecosystems, restore and regenerate biodiversity. And take up our role as aware citizens of this planet. Humble. Sharing. In resilient communities. Producing our own basic needs.


So what are the next steps?

1. We need to restore what we f**cked up

Restoration of ecosystems is key. It’s the only way to unleash the abundance of nature again. And that’s something we need if we want to live within planetary boundaries. Luckily, there are already many projects doing large scale restoration with permaculture techniques.

And while you’re at it, anybody can do their own little bit. Learn about permaculture and use this wisdom in your own garden and life. Many small puzzle pieces also make a big picture!

2. We need to redefine our economy

Also here, a lot of work is already in progress. Kate Raworth is busy with her Doughnut Economy model. There’s the Purpose Economy. And Gunter Pauli is a big inspiration with the Blue Economy. And there are more…

One well-known path in this sustainable economy field is the Circular Economy. They make great progress. However, I do have some comments to make.

Some businesses are taking shortcuts. Trying to greenwash their dirty laundry without really changing. That’s NOT what I mean…

3. We need to redefine our businesses

The business models are here. We just have to implement them. And also here I can see lots of progress. Many startups are jumping on the regenerative bandwagon. For us, as consumers, it’s important that we spend our money where our hearts are. Support these golden examples!

We can even scale them up to big businesses slash impact makers.

And we know what the leaders of the future look like. People without masks, who show us how to be human. People with a strong connection to nature, themselves, and others.

4. We need designers who work with local, abundantly available materials

Designers are the important ones. Lots of people think that we have already designed everything we need.

Wrong! We can do better. So much better…

5. Systemic solutions

Changing our mindset from scarcity to abundance is mighty important. Why? Because now we are competing. And we should be collaborating. Sharing. And only taking what we need. Stop feeding the ego.

Start thinking systemically. Everything is connected. And the threads might even be more important than the separate parts.

It’s complex but not difficult. I made a few stories in which everyone can see that systemic solutions for the world’s most complex problems can be found.

We have to zoom out and dare to make radical choices. Stimulating what we do want and phasing out what we don’t want.

6. We have to prevent waste

Centralizing has its disadvantages. People need to feel responsible. They need to care again. And that can only happen if we make them aware. Look how some brave youngsters are taking action on Bali.

7. Islands are perfect to build regenerative economies

First of all, there is an island that has done it. On El Hierro (Spain) they built this economy, being self-sufficient with energy, water, and food.

And for Bali, I explained the need for self-sufficiency and how to achieve a vibrant economy without mass tourism.

Well, you get an impression of my thought-train. In the next steps, I would like to ask changemakers and psychologists, sociologists and ecologists:

How we can build a bridge from thinking to doing?

We need action! From everyone!

team lab borderless / cosmin serban / unsplash

team lab borderless / cosmin serban / unsplash

We can all take a role.

  • We’re all consumers. We should spend our money where our hearts are
  • We’re all citizens. We should rewild our souls and change our mindset from scarcity to abundance. Support each other and contribute to resilient communities
  • Some of us are in governments. They can unbury the elephant in the room and make radical choices for systemic solutions
  • Some of us are in business. They can change their business model, producing the products that we need in the new world
  • Some of us are teachers. They can help us be curious, learn from nature and find our own, unique paths
  • Some of us are designers. They can design with local, abundantly available materials
  • Some of us are doctors, nurses. They can help us find the path to health-based models instead of supporting the business case for disease
  • Some of us are inventors. They can invent the next game-changing, nature-based, technologies with e.g. quantum physics. To help restore and help us live within the boundaries
  • Some of us are shamans. They can help us heal and show the way

Find your own role and show up! We need you all…

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Read more of Desiree's work on Medium and on her website.

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Desiree is an entrepreneur and top writer on Medium for sustainability and climate change. She has 25+ years of experience in business management and is a regular contributor to The Blue Economy. Passionate about systemic solutions, Desiree actively collaborates with like-minded individuals.
Desiree Driesenaar