Global dialogue looks beyond sustainability, towards growth and resilience

Experts from Qatar and around the world discuss how regenerative development can point the way towards a safe and prosperous planet, in the latest edition of the Education City Speaker Series.

In a virtual discussion titled ‘Beyond Sustainability: Imagining A Regenerative Future’, the international platform for dialogue at Qatar Foundation, turned its focus onto a concept that aims to build, rather than simply maintain, the support systems needed for long-term growth and a resilient world, and reverse damage to the natural environment instead of simply minimising it.

The event looked at regenerative development’s roots in indigenous culture, where and how it is already being embraced, and what it can make possible, as well as how it can be applied in different cultural contexts.

Ibrahim Mohamed Jaidah
Ibrahim Mohamed Jaidah

Among the speakers giving their perspectives on the topic was Ibrahim Mohamed Jaidah, Group CEO and Chief Architect at Arab Engineering Bureau, who spoke about how Qatar is working to build a better future.

According to Jaidah, the amount of construction that has been done in the last 20 to 25 years is more than what was constructed in the last 100 years – there has been tremendous growth.

But we are fortunate as we have recognised in the last decade or so that we have overconsumed our part of the earth.

He said that with the steps taken in the last 10 to 15 years, we have started to recover, to regenerate.

For example, in the last three years, Qatar has managed to increase food security by 400%. If we continue this way, we’ll be self-sufficient in just a handful of years.

Jaidah went on to speak about the upcoming FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ – the infrastructure, sustainability, and the legacy of the stadiums.

How are we going to continue living with these buildings, to rehabilitate them, for people to make use of them? Here, for every design – and as part of the competition – we had to show how we plan to rehabilitate the buildings after the event. And we had to look at the bigger picture, because the stadiums are going to form part of our society – they’ll become parks, medical facilities, education institutes.

During the discussion, Bill Reed, a planning consultant and sustainability and regeneration expert and the Principal of US-based Regenesis Group, explained the concept of regenerative development. He said that we can’t really save the world.

He said that the world is too abstract, too big.

There’s no chief or CEO of the planet. So what we can do is save the world place by place. And each place is different, which requires us to engage in a unique way. So regenerative development is about developing capabilities to participate in the process of evolution.

Bill Reed
Bill Reed
Dr Anne Poelina
Dr Anne Poelina

And speaking about the Middle East specifically, he said it doesn’t matter where you are, it matters how you address where you are. What is the nature of a healthy ecosystem around the Gulf? That is the first question that needs to be asked, and then how do we serve that in our projects?

The Education City Speaker Series also heard from indigenous community leader Dr Anne Poelina, Chair of the Martuwarra Fitzroy River Council in Western Australia, whose work is focused around issues of environmental and cultural protection.

Speaking about the future, she said that we need to be clever, innovative, and we need bring a wide range of collective wisdom into how we look, how we learn and unlearn, and how we see what is happening globally and bring that locally. All of these things, she said are really important.

The Education City Speaker Series provides a platform for the local community to have captivating conversations with thought leaders and change makers from all over the world. Visit qf.org.qa for updates and more information about the series.