The Humility of realizing that on the scale of Time, we are an ephemeral microsecond and, on the scale of Nature, we are just a microorganism.
I had the pleasure of co-organizing on the 26th, 27th and 28th of January, the launch of the Nature-Based Solutions HUB Portugal, of which I am also the first coordinator.
More than 40 world specialists in Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) were present at the Portimão Museum, some because they participate in projects funded by the European Union, others because they are linked to institutions such as the IUCN - International Union for the Conservation of Mediterranean Nature or NetworkNature EU – NBS European Projects Network – which are references in this area.
There were three intense days, where we posed three real challenges from the territory of Portimão to these specialists and to the almost eighty participants who followed this event, including citizens, students, municipal technicians and other interested parties, who even came from various places in Portugal to learn and share knowledge and experience.
The three challenges posed were: the Riverside Zone, Porto and Bairro Pontal.
The objective was to co-create the strategy of how these three spaces, and the connection between them and the city center, can and should go through the interaction between Nature and Humanity, either placing citizens at the center of any process of innovation and development territorial, or thinking about urban regeneration aimed at preserving, enhancing and creating value “of and with” nature.
We had the privilege of seeing, firsthand in Portugal, the documentary Biocentric who presented us, among others, with the vision of ecologist Janine Benyus, founder of the Institute of Biomimetics, who delighted us with examples of how much we can learn from Nature, how it can inspire us to solve our problems, replicating its systems, its relations, its mechanics to its mathematics.
It was before this grandeur of Nature that I asked the audience, after viewing, to stop, breathe and thank the Creator, regardless of our Creed or “non-belief”, for the immensity, beauty and eternal source of great inspiration that is our planet .
It is in the face of this reality that each one of us must reflect on what we are doing, what our contribution is and how we can and should act, even as the microorganism that we are, for its enhancement, preservation, regeneration and enhancement.
“Waste and resources are the same thing in nature. Garbage is a human invention” – Fred Gelli, from Tátil Design, documentary Biocentricos.
There were several excellent interventions on the need for cities to assume the participation and involvement of citizens as a factor of authenticity when we think about the space we share in community.
Our colleague from NBS HUB Portugal, Professor Giovanni Allegretti, from the Center for Social Studies at the University of Coimbra, brought us the example of Japan, where groups of citizens are called upon to develop projects of prospective thinking, that is, thinking about the future seven generations away.
This message was reinforced by Professor José Mauro Nunes, from the State University of Rio de Janeiro and the Getúlio Vargas Foundation (Brazil), who brought us the theory of Roman Krznaric – the Good Ancestral – to help visualize the axes of how we should thinking in the long term about the regeneration of territories, that is, the legacy we want to leave, not to our children or grandchildren, but to our grandchildren's grandchildren.
The axes are: humility in deep time; legacy mindset; intergenerational justice; Cathedral thinking; holistic foresight, transformational goal.
It is in view of this almost timeless vision that we understand that on a time scale, we are actually a microsecond.
So how to change? Every human being has within himself the Kit of tools available to change this state of affairs!
According to three dimensions:
• First, on a micro-social level, we need to develop environmentally responsible behaviours.
• Secondly, on a sociotechnical level, we need to develop theoretical frameworks and technological propositions that not only extend the useful life of products, but also allow them to be reused indefinitely in a circular fashion.
• Thirdly, on a macro-social level, we need to tirelessly encourage responsible thinking and commitment as a “Good Ancestor”, one who reasons taking into account the seven generations to come.
As José Mauro Nunes told us, “we need to disseminate this mentality based on activating our individual kit for Change, in our society's structures, whether public or private, regional, national and global”.
I would say that the Algarve needs this change of mentality from each one of us, it will always be from the citizens that we will transform this Region to be a pioneer and an example in the green transition!
Some pictures of the event in Portimão:
Author Américo Mateus is a member of Taskforce 6 of the European Commission: co-creation of NBS; Responsible for the NBS Hub Portugal of EU NetworkNature; Partner and Senior Researcher at GUDA – Design Transitions Agency🇧🇷 University Lecturer at ISMAT; Director of TRIE – Center for Transdisciplinary Research in Innovation Ecosystems in Lusophone Teaching; Director of the Design Master for the Circular Economy at ISMAT.