Biomimicry Revolution: Creating Conditions Conducive To Life

Jay Owen Nature/Biomimicry

Creating Conditions Conducive To Life: The First Biomimicry 3.8 Global Conference

By Tamsin Woolley-Barker, Ph.D –

July 4th, 2013

This past weekend, I had the great pleasure of being a part of the 7th Annual Biomimicry Education Summit, and the first ever Biomimicry 3.8 Global Conference, hosted together by the University of Massachusetts in Boston.

Coral Reef

The event was well-attended by over 350 dedicated, talented, and far-thinking teachers, designers, architects, biologists, industrialists, and policy-makers from across the globe. All were focused on one burning question. “How can humans create conditions conducive to life?” Not just sustainable economies, cities, and manufacturing, but a regenerative way of life that creates biodiversity instead of destroying it.

What’s the big idea?

Over the course of three intense and exciting days, three major themes emerged:

  • How would nature design buildings and cities that fulfill the ecosystem services of the original habitats they replaced?
  • How would nature design the materials we use to build them?
  • How would nature redesign our whole economy to encourage such regeneration?

Daunting questions, to be sure, but the conference’s exceptional speakers rose to the occasion and then some.

Janine Benyus, author of Biomimicry (the book that shaped and named the movement in 1997), and co-founder of Biomimicry 3.8, kicked off the conference by presenting the concept of “Generous Cities.” She described the complex living networks we find at every level of biology: between and among genes and cells, proteins and polymers, organisms and species. These systems have been shaped by natural selection over billions of years into the densely intertwined collaborative web of “mutualism” that we call Life.

Living networks emerge from the complex interactions of all the players, and yield optimal exchanges of energy and information. These ecosystems are much more than the sum of their parts. Benyus held up “the highly interconnected mushroom mycelia that courses throughout our soil” as an example. This dense living network shares nutrients, water, and even “alarm signals” triggered by insect predation, between and among the trees, shrubs, and fungus, nurturing a robust and richly productive ecosystem with abundance for all.

Mushrooms by the road

And really, isn’t that what we want to accomplish on a global scale, in our cities, economies, food production, and manufacturing?

Dr. Tamsin Woolley-Barker is an evolutionary biologist, writer, and Biomimicry 3.8-trained sustainability and biomimicry consultant.




Congrats for conducting and reporting on the 1st Biomimicry 3.8 Global Conference:

“…nurturing a robust and richly productive ecosystem with abundance for all… isn’t that what we want to accomplish on a global scale, in our cities, economies, food production, and manufacturing?”

Sustainable Land Development Initiative
A Budding Model of a Truly Sustainable Community…



Sustainable Land Development Initiative

The Man Who Planted Trees: Lost Groves, Champion Trees, and an Urgent Plan to Save the Planet

“You are brilliant, and the Earth is hiring…”

Sustainable Tourism: A Key to Global Solutions

A New Conservation Ethic for the 21st Century

Cracking the Code: The Essence of Sustainable Development

Building a Sustainable Community Forest

Biodiversity is the Living Foundation for Sustainable Development

Returning to the Natural Stormwater Management Approach

Building a Bridge to a New Global Culture