Learn how to innovate for sustainability

3 years ago

Innovation is a critical component of sustainability. To create sustainable  systems we have to learn new ways to innovate, problem solve and iterate to shape an increasingly unpredictable future.

The third module of our online course focuses on innovation. Here you master 4 key skills – design thinking, alternative systems, biomimicry and permaculture.

Design thinking

To learn how to innovate successfully we use design thinking, which combines empathy, creativity and rationality in solving problems.

Alternative systems

Circular economies

Our industrial growth economy doesn’t take into account negative feedback loops. Rather, it focuses on the extraction of resources to satisfy shareholder value. Conversely, a circular economy uses big-picture systemic analysis to recapture waste and put it back into the system as a resource. Closed-loop systems are thus the pinnacle of circular, regenerative economies.

Local economies

We can establish resilient, local economies through worker-run cooperatives. Co-ops are more productive than conventional companies and look after the health and wellbeing of their members. The autonomy of worker-run co-ops ensures that during times of economic downturn, employees are more likely to hold onto their jobs.

Some other examples of local, resilient economies include: community supported agriculture (CSA) and local farmers markets. We can also empower local communities to own their energy needs by creating a renewable energy hub powered by solar or wind power. Any excess energy can then be shared amongst the local community.

Renewable energy

The future therefore lies with solar, wind, wave, geothermal, and biomass.

By shifting to renewable energy systems and introducing small-scale organic farming/gardening techniques that sequester carbon, we can meet our 2° target. But we must shift to renewable energy as quickly as possible. We can do this by electrifying our transport systems and using renewable energy and technology to become more interconnected in our daily lives.


What’s the best way to innovate for sustainable outcomes? One way is to use biomimicry (mimicking patterns in nature) to create sustainable systems that meet our basic needs without destroying the planet. But how do we mimic nature? Janine Benyus who wrote ‘Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature’, along with the team at Biomimicry 3.8 have devised at a set of guidelines for using nature in innovation. By taking our online course you will learn these guidelines for the transition to sustainable ways of living.

For example, the Japanese high speed Shinkansen train is modelled on the beak of a kingfisher. This design reduces wind drag and noise while increasing speeds and enhancing energy efficiency.


Permaculture is a system of ethics, including earth care, people care, and fair share. Whereas the monoculture of industrialisation uses one type of crop which requires huge inputs of fossil fuels, permaculture uses diversity of crops, animals, trees and shrubs to create a holistic food growing system.

Food forests, for example, are designed to generate enough biomass for self-regulation and regeneration. The purpose or function of a permaculture system is to build multi-layered inputs and outputs.

Compared with monoculture, permaculture can help manifest a more sustainable world by mediating the regulation of biofeedback loops, thereby mitigating the disastrous effects of climate change.

All 4 components of innovation presented here are integral to sustainability. Here’s where you get creative and think outside the box. It’s time to use your skills to shift to sustainable outcomes.

To innovate it’s necessary to fail. But standardised education sees failure as ‘bad’. Whereas we show you how failure can lead to growth and innovation – critical components of sustainability.

Would you like to learn more about innovation within the context of sustainability? Then sign up for our FREE online course, or download our FREE e-book. Together we can make a difference!


Master the principles of permaculture

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