The Regenerative Economy: Beyond Circularity

B. Lorraine Smith
31 min readMar 1, 2020
Original CNI Presentation (in Portuguese) — video available here:

[This article originally appeared on my blog on Nov 27, 2019]

Keynote Presentation, September 24, 2019

Circular Economy Event, Confederação Nacional de Indústria (CNI)

São Paulo, Brazil

Presentation is in Portuguese. An English transcript follows.

Thank you, and good morning to everyone. Thank you to you all for being here today. I’m very pleased to be here with you today to speak about the regenerative economy.

I’d also like to thank the team from CNI for a voyage that has already been wonderful. It will be an interesting conversation with you exploring the idea of a regenerative economy, beyond a circular economy.

(1:22) If I am successful, my objective is just to plant a few seeds on the theme of the regenerative economy, and what it entails.

And so to explain a little bit: I have just one purpose, all day, all week, all year long. I have the purpose of supporting the transition to this regenerative economy.

So today I will speak a little bit about who I am and what gives me the right to be here speaking to you today. And then I will explain what I mean by “support the transition”. There were already several speakers earlier talking about a transition. Things are changing. How? What can I do? And what would be your role to help with this transition? I will touch on this a little more. And of course I will explain what I mean by a regenerative economy — as I already mentioned, beyond the circular economy — but of course I will also speak about the circular economy.

(2:22) And so to begin with a definition, because I will speak a lot about this thing called regeneration, and it’s an emergent theme which means the definition will evolve but I will explain how I understand the regenerative economy just to begin then I will introduce more about this.

For me, the regenerative economy only has three important characteristics. Everything else is a detail. It’s very simple.

(2:56) First of all, this economy and all of the businesses that make up the economy, capture more carbon than they emit — in the present and for several decades to come — until we have realigned with the…



B. Lorraine Smith

Former sustainability consultant replacing ESG with reality-based insights about corporate purpose and impact.