Live system vs Mechanistic system
We live in a lively and complex dynamic system, whose interconnected parts work together with a superior objective repeating a series of patterns. Nature has its own laws for regeneration or restoration that allows it to learn, restore and evolve, ensuring the sustainability of the entire ecosystem in a mutually beneficial relationship.
For several centuries Western culture has been dominated by a fragmented view of the universe, seen as a machine composed of separate parts that function in accordance with specific and predictable laws of physics and chemistry, including matter and living things, a mechanist or cartesian vision, from where whole systems have been designed.
Sustainability as it has been practised, responds to this fragmented vision that seeks to minimize the impact or sustain what already exists, for the use of these resources by future generations.
The problem is that even when we apply sustainability measures such as the reduction of CO2 emissions, we plant trees, we separate the garbage, we move in public transport, etc. all of them welcome, we continue going in the same inappropriate direction.
“The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think” Gregory Bateson
The change will come or is coming when moving from a fragmented, reductionist worldview, and mechanistic logic to an integrated mental vision of a single dynamic and complex living system, and let’s learn to interrelate with it, in symbiosis, for the survival of the human species
“The loss of biodiversity, environmental catastrophes, poverty, wars, hunger, water crisis, migration, social instability, etc. are systemic problems, none of them can be understood in an isolated way since all and each of them are interconnected and interdependent when any of them gets worse, the impact is immediate on the rest, amplifying or diversifying its effects. ”Fritjof Capra in the“ Quid of the Question ”or “Heart of the Matter”
We enter a new era, the Anthropocene, a term used for the first time in 2000 by Nobel Prize winner in chemistry Paul Crutzen, who believes that the influence of human behaviour on Earth in recent centuries has been significant, and has constituted a new geological era, characterized by the mass extinction of plants and animal species, pollution and alteration of the atmosphere, among other major negative impacts.
It is time to move from an extractivist and degenerative positioning to a healthy relationship with nature, of regeneration of damaged systems seeing them as a whole.
“The problems cannot be solved from the same level of consciousness from which they were created ”Albert Einstein
Beyond sustainability: the regenerative design:
The sustainable, green or eco-design seeks to minimize or reduce the negative impact generated by human activity, preserving resources for future generations, following sustainability standards.
But as we have seen in the introduction, this vision is not enough, in any case, it is not ruled out because it is part of evolution and we incorporate it to enrich it and redefine it from a systemic logic.
Regenerative design, which goes one step beyond sustainable design, is a term used to describe processes that restore, renew and revitalize their own sources of energy and materials with which systems are created that integrate the needs of society with those of nature.
A regenerative system feeds back and allows adaptability, dynamism and emergency, that is, what emerges when the parties interact, to create resilient and flourishing ecosystems.
Although it is not a new concept and there has been much talk about agriculture and architecture, a new generation of designers are applying it to urban planning, economics, business and leadership, among other disciplines.
The regenerative design is inspired by ecology, biomimicry or biophilic design to learn from nature and imitate it, with the aim of solving some of the complex problems we face.
It drinks from the sources of complex systems design and is linked to new economies such as the circular economy, the economy of the common good or the collaborative economy, of all of it, is inspired and finds solutions.
If in other areas the action of man has had an impact on the degradation of ecosystems, the excesses of tourism are leaving us images difficult to digest, overcrowding, degradation of historical, cultural and natural heritage, abusive constructions, uncivil behaviours, etc., with the consequent dissatisfaction of the residents.
And the solution may be to close beaches before they are totally unrecoverable like Maya Bay in Thailand
Or create more stringent rules such as those designed by the Nepalese government after the shocking images of Mount Everest last summer and the garbage accumulated around the mountain.
We have achieved the opposite effect when from our destinations we cannot offer what visitors were originally looking for and failed to implement measures that go beyond the economic impact, measured only with GDP, without having been able to differentiate between good growth and bad growth.
Meanwhile, travellers are increasingly looking for ecological destinations and hidden gems to discover and the New York Times, shows us the 52 destinations by 2020, including Menorca, an island of about 700 km, biosphere reserve, belonging to the Balearic Islands in Spain.
Principles of regenerative design:
The regenerative design is inspired by the laws of nature, focusing on the characteristics of the territory, culturally, socially and economically, incorporating complexity and looking at everything from a holistic point of view, taking into account continuous and cyclical changes, forming a loop that feeds back to learn and iterate, and embraces diversity by focusing on the inherent potential.
Use environmentally friendly materials, recyclable and reusable, follow the criteria of km0 in the production of food, goods and services. It optimizes underutilized resources and is based on a mutually beneficial relationship: for each of us in interrelation and the planet.
Some recommendations and basic principles:
Honour the place and its community: The place where you want to act comes first, focus on its potential at all levels, its history, culture, geography, fauna, gastronomy, people, etc. and move from the generic to the unique to give it courage. Leverage on your own story to create a shared story.
Design holistically: From a fragmented vision to an integrated vision. Nature teaches us that everything is related, interconnected and interdependent, any damage in one part of the system will affect the rest and any positive action, will scale the benefit to the entire ecosystem.
Design for relationships: We are relational social beings and we seek interactions with others and our environment, facilitates them to occur, encouraging the exchange of knowledge, goods and services at all levels.
It allows “emergency”: In systemic design, emergence occurs when an entity is observed to have properties its parts do not have on their own. These properties or behaviours emerge only when the parts interact in a wider whole. What emerges spontaneously has incredible value, create safe spaces for it to happen, it is in those spaces where innovation occurs, keep an active listening to what happens in the ecosystem, act as a facilitator giving the necessary resources for individual or group initiatives flourish, this will create more involved and resilient communities.
In collaboration: It involves the members of the community from the beginning, seeks the common purpose, which will increase the feeling of belonging and care. Look for the diversity of opinions, knowledge and specialities, that’s where the wealth is. It includes nature as another interested party.
Design for autonomy: few rules but clear, allows autonomy and gives visibility to the responsibility that entails, what we build belongs to everyone and for everyone, we have a common goal: to create better places for residents and those who visit it.
Create the right channels to get feedback: fluid communication helps us to detect errors in the system and to reward and scale the positive to co-evolve.
Analyze, learn and iterate: Analyze to learn, improve and adapt processes aligned with the overall objectives of the ecosystem and each of its members.
These principles gathered from the design of ecosystem strategies and the design of complex systems will allow us to build flourishing long-lasting ecosystems because today it is no longer enough to sustain but we need to design for regeneration, harmonizing human activity with the continuous evolution of the Life on our planet.
Any positive intervention in the ecosystem scales its beneficial impact for the whole and each of the parties.
And perhaps, one day we will enter the Ecozoic Era, a term first coined by the cultural historian Thomas Berry in 1992, with which he describes a geological era in which the earth should enter, where human civilization lives in harmony with the earth and any other way of life in co-evolution.