Vol. 64, N. 3, 2020


Toward a model of territorial primary prevention


Systemic and participatory design of socio-ecological and
territorial matrices as an interface between human and
environmental systems: the (possible) role of an eco-district

Problems addressed: The crises of the natural environment and territory are systemic, environmental and social. Indeed, they are socio-ecological systems (SESs), that is, systems in which ‘the social, economic, ecological, cultural, political, technological and other components are strongly linked ... emphasizing the integrated concept of the human-in-nature perspective’. These are deeply interconnected and co-evolutive systems, in which the ‘ecological component provides essential services to society’. The integrated character
of SESs makes the environmental perspective inseparable from the social one and mutually conditioned.
Indeed, the approach by which to study, design and govern the natural environment and territory is instead ‘culturally’ based on the ‘values of modernity’ and, so far, directed to the exploitation of the natural and
human environment in order to seek profits and economic development. In order to be successfully implemented, such exploitation requires processes and tools that can guarantee human beings’ distancing and separation from each other and from nature.
Objectives: This research starts from the assumed need for a review of the ‘values of modernity’ and believes it must question the ways and means through which these values ‘create’ or modify the SESs we call
the natural environment and territory.
Methods: After an examination of innovative and alternative models of design and governance of territory, I believe we can identify in systemic design based on the eco-district concept (eco-district-systemic-design, EDSD) a systemic and participatory tool for a sustainable and resilient requalification of the socio-ecological
matrices of the natural environment and territory.
Findings: In our model, the eco-district, as a model for territorial primary prevention (MTPP), becomes a structuring element of ‘the organization of a territorial cognitive framework, which contains, organises and makes transmissible all the elements that make up the complex urban and territorial space’. Territory is regarded here as an interface between physical-environmental (natural and human-modified) systems and social systems and sustainability integrated by the concept of resilience, while linear economy becomes
circular. Training, information and participation processes in decision making and the planning of the transformations of the territory-interface (TI) as a socio-ecological common good (alongside related
governance) are extended in the model to all possible stakeholders and take place digitally. Conclusions: The aim of the model is to help keep ‘extended matrices’, that is, matrices of social and environmental (natural and human-modified) systems, in balance through systemic, participative and circular approaches, in order to provide a perspective regarding the ‘human-in-nature’ concept, one which is extremely uncertain today.

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