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Recommendations by the Professionals for Italy (Professionisti per l’Italia) and the Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development (ASviS)

Let’s be honest, people that focus on issues of soil, landscape and territories often feel like they are talking to a brick wall. Nonetheless, sometimes it turns out that someone has been paying attention and has even endorsed some of the principles and values that have been promulgated.

We were pleased to read the document introduced to the press and trade representatives last 21 February by the United Permanent Committee of Professional Boards and Associations (CUP) and the Network of Technical Professions (RTP). The document is entitled (in Italian) “Professionals for Italy – Ideas for modernising the country”.

Out of the eleven themes set out in the document, we would like to focus on the following ones:

Number 8: “Enhance and safeguard the environmental, landscape and cultural heritage to create new growth pathways”. It reminds us of the necessity to enhance and safeguard landscapes, land, food heritage, as well as the environmental and cultural wealth with sustainability and the protection of available resources in mind. To do so, financial investment will be needed, as well as the help of environmental and cultural heritage experts, in order to protect and enhance all of its dimensions. Therefore, it would be essential to review, harmonise and simplify applicable legislation to strategically enhance the environment and the territory (including tourism).

Number 9: “Regenerate cities, focus on city outskirts, enhance and protect the built heritage to improve quality of life”.

In this respect, “agriculture, arboriculture and forestry, along with food production and ecosystemic services that contribute to the enhancement of ecological river corridors and environmental corridors, thereby increasing resilience through the environment and water” are seen as fundamental for urban regeneration and sustainable management of the city.

It points to targeted interventions to reuse and regeneration of property and to mitigate risks for existing structures. It underlines the importance of a “zero sum game” in terms of soil consumption, prioritising landscape enhancement and the safeguard of agricultural undertakings. It calls for a redefinition of standards and methods of intervention for the preservation and the management of cultural goods and landscape by moving closer to local communities and by standardising the criteria for asset preservation.

The good work carried out by the Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development (ASVIS) is also encouraging. It was created in February 2016 to raise awareness in Italy around the implementation of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In November 2017 they published their 2nd report, looking at the progress in terms of meeting these goals . This progress reports lays bare the Italian situation and urges Italy to radically change it’s development model should it want to meet the SDGs by the established dates of 2020 and 2030. This interesting report speaks of “redesigning a number of subsidies that are deemed “dangerous”, “neutral”, or “uncertain” in order to make them more environmentally friendly (such as facilitations in the property / building sector that foster soil consumption).

It also expressed strong concern over the “high level of soil consumption, the increase in soil sealing, the aggravation of hydrologic vulnerability and the reduction of arable land”. The report is the result of research and studies carried out by around 300 specialists and was presented to the highest Italian political authorities. The two groups, one looking at Goal 15 (on soil and territory) and one looking at Goal 2 (on hunger, food and agriculture), were each made up of over 15 experts. Both of them are adamant: Italian policies do not adequately protect terrestrial ecosystems or the natural capital.

The next Italian government, which will take office in the coming months, should take on board the recommendations made by the abovementioned groups. What’s more, it will already have the SIP Forum draft law at its disposal, which stands as a concrete proposal completely in line with these recommendations.