Regenerative Economies: Cornerstones for a Just Transition
“It’s time to find our way back to what our ancestors had. Our people come from just economies, and we need to bring everyone with us, especially those most intent […]
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“It’s time to find our way back to what our ancestors had.
Our people come from just economies, and we need to bring
everyone with us, especially those most intent on destroying
the Earth because we can’t afford that anymore” 
Karlin Itchoak, Alaska State Director at the Wilderness Society

This past May, many of Cook Inletkeeper’s staff and collaborators attended the 2022 Alaska Just Transition Summit: Nughelnik [noɡel-neek], which means, “It is remembered within us” in the language of the Dena’ina Athabascan people. Here we participated in conversations and presentations focused on co-creating a vision of a future that honors the Earth and all living beings, one that is equitable and ecologically rooted in economy and culture: “a collective vision of Alaska’s resilient future and the path we must take to achieve that vision. One goal of the summit was to “Reimagine Community in a Post-Extractive Economy.”

A just transition relies on creating and promoting regenerative economies, but what does this look like in practice? Just Transition initiatives shift the economy from unsustainable energy to community-controlled energy; from funding new roads to expanding public transit; landfills to zero waste; from industrial food systems to food sovereignty; from homelessness to self-determined communities; and from destructive development to ecosystem and biodiversity restoration. The core of Just Transition is deep democracy and decolonization, where workers and communities have control over the decisions that affect their daily lives and traditional lands.

“The future must be decentralized. It must be relocalized. It must have food self-sufficiency and energy self-sufficiency at local levels
with fair and just trade agreements.”
-Winona LaDuke, Native American activist, economist, and author

In collaboration with the Alaska Climate Alliance and the Alaska Just Transition Collective, we had the honor of contributing to both a webinar featuring tangible, Alaskan examples of projects guided by regenerative principles, as well as a beautiful zine, Regenerative Economies: A Guide To A Thriving Alaska, which was released during the 2022 Alaska Just Transition Summit. In these, we highlighted some of the regenerative local food projects that Cook Inletkeeper is directly supporting, like the Alaska Food Hub and the Alaska Farmers Market Association.

Both of these projects are rooted in creating resilient, sustainable, and community-led food systems, and both aim to reduce the carbon footprint associated with our globalized food system, while building non-extraction-based economic opportunities.

What does a regenerative economy look like in your homeplace? No project or action is too small! If you’d like to learn more about regenerative economies, visit: