Biomimicry as a transformative paradigm (Guest Author: Gamelihle Sibanda)

Progress Namibia - Biomimicry as a transformative paradigm (Guest Author: Gamelihle Sibanda)
30 April 2018

[Image Credit: Toktokkie harvests water from fog in the Namib Desert. Source:]

A friend of mine recently published a great article on biomimicry in Solutions Journal. I thought it a good idea to share with you as some inspiration:

"What are basic human needs? How do we currently meet them? How does nature meet similar needs? How are pioneering innovators emulating natures’ strategies to meet human needs in a sustainable manner?

Scientists warn us that we have breached planetary boundaries and are currently consuming resources as if we have one and a half planets. We are further warned if we continue on the current economic trajectory by 2050 we will need three Earth-size planets to sustain human life. Is there a blue print for an alternative trajectory that we can realign to and avoid arriving where we are currently headed? Yes, a blue print to survive and thrive indefinitely on this planet exists and it is free and not encumbered by patents. Nature has been running a research and development laboratory for 3.8 billion years, testing and refining strategies to create conditions conducive to life. Whilst humans worry about population growth, have you ever heard anyone complain that there are too many trees in the forest?

If you plot how long life has been on earth on a calendar, humans are a very young species that arrived a few minutes before midnight on 31 December. However, in the short time of their existence humans have brought the planet to the brink. Therefore, the question we need to address is how can humans be enlightened to fit in with the rest of nature? Biomimicry (from Greek words bios, meaning life, and mimesis, meaning to imitate) is a new discipline that studies nature’s best strategies and then emulates them to solve human challenges in a sustainable manner.

Whenever I suggest that humans should learn from and fit in with the rest of nature rather than try to control nature, my audience typically point out that humans have special needs that the rest of nature does not. Often they remind me about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and ask “if we fit in with nature that will slow progress; how would we feed ourselves? How would we provide shelter, water, health and transport?” You should watch how their jaws drop to the floor when I tell them how nature has already faced the same challenges that humans are only grappling with now and how over eons nature has evolved solutions that are there for humans to abstract and emulate for free.

Please join me on a short journey of discovery where we will look through Biomimicry lens and reflect on;
1. How human cleverness has tried to meet our basic needs, often in unsustainable ways
2. How nature has solved similar challenges
3. How pioneering humans are using biomimicry to develop innovative solutions."

To carry on reading, please visit the original article.

A visual story teller and rapid ideator Gamelihle Sibanda is a Certified Biomimicry Professional (CBP), who fuses his training in civil engineering (BSc Civil Eng. Honours), business (MBA) and biomimicry (Master of Science in Biomimicry) – he abstracts strategies that nature has tested and refined over 3.8 billion years to create solutions to human challenges, whilst benchmarking against ecological performance standards exemplified by the closed resource loop (circular economy) of natural ecosystems, where the concept of waste does not exist as one organism’s waste is another’s food or raw material. As a systems thinker, he applies ecosystems based disaster risk reduction, adaptation and resilience in a changing climate. He co-developed the Biominga Innovation Model – based on how innovation happens in nature.