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A regenerative vision for Noto

Noto and its territory have a unique resource. A resource that contains its baroque architecture, archeology and history, culture, society, biodiversity and the products of its fertile territory. A resource that can connect city and countryside, nature and society, ancient heritage and modern development. A resource that can help Noto become a Sustainable City for the 21st century.
This unique resource is the Asinaro River Basin, an area of rich diversity covering 85 sq km.
Virtually everyone on this planet lives in a river basin but how many are aware of their river basin and its potential to teach us? A river basin is a complete, complex and dynamic ecosystem. Natural ecosystems help us to see the bigger picture, to appreciate connections and relationships. A river basin can contain many different projects, initiatives and ideas - social, economic, environmental, cultural - within its boundaries. It encourages integrated, connected solutions. It helps us to discover new opportunities and to realise potential. It promotes learning and collaboration.


The big challenges of our time - such as climate change, food and energy security, migration - are systemic. We need to address them not as isolated issues but as interconnected parts of a larger system. Consider any local issue that's persistent: rubbish dumping, youth brain drain, urban sustainability, cementification, ageing society, environmental degradation. These are systemic challenges, but too often our responses treat them separately. But thinking systemically is hard when there's nothing tangible out there you can see, feel, experience.

Within an ecosystem, it's easier, more intuitive. We see what's connected, we see relationships, we see how an action in one place has impacts in other parts of the system, upstream or downstream... The river basin teaches us to look with new eyes, to see the bigger picture, to reframe much of what we have taken for granted and change deeply embedded assumptions and beliefs.

The river basin is an ideal unit for study, for focus and action. Small actions can be started anywhere and scaled up within the basin. Successful approaches can be replicated in other basins or regions.

The river basin is a way of bringing different stakeholders, interests and projects together around a shared sense of place and local identity. It can bridge rural and urban interests. It can reinforce Unesco heritage status. It encourages community and 'bottom up' engagement. It can contain many different issues and themes without losing sight of connections.

The river basin is an ideal model and approach for working towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals up to 2030, and a powerful tool for integrating small and larger scale responses. It is a natural arena for exploring and developing a green economy.

What happens next?


Mapping the Basin. A process to bring stakeholders together around a shared understanding of the river basin and the challenges and opportunities within it. Priorities and projects will be identified. Some have already been identified or are being piloted.

Towards a Regenerative Society. Collaboration with Utrecht University, Asinaro River Basin project and C.U.M.O Noto. 60 students from Utrecht University's Young Innovators program will visit Noto from 14-19 November 2019, using the river basin as inspiration for innovation around the theme of regenerative societies. Before their visit, students will be researching the context and the Asinaro basin, identifying challenges, resources and opportunities for Noto and the region in the broad areas of society, economy, environment and culture. The visit will culminate in a public event in Noto on 18 /11/2019 to co-create and test ideas. 

How can you get involved?

Let us know if you'd like to get involved. Suggest initiatives, projects, educational or awareness campaigns, other people to engage and involve, or simply give us your feedback and ideas. 

It starts with a river basin. An idea in progress. A growing network. Join the conversation!

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