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ISPRA Report 2021 and the National Plan for Recovery and Resilience

For those who are not familiar with it, ISPRA is the Higher Institute for Environmental Protection and Research, a public research body in Italy under the direct control of the Ministry for the environment and the protection of land and sea (now called Ecological Transition). For many years the ISPRA has published an annual report on the situation of the soil in Italy, containing ever more dramatic and catastrophic data. The latest one, published in July 2021, does not give grounds for optimism nor does it show a change in direction, but the previous ones were also extremely alarming and called out for urgent legislative action.

The PNRR, meanwhile, is the Italian plan that allows the state access to EU funds earmarked for economic and social recovery with the aim of creating a better future for the coming generations, the Next Generation EU.

What is the relationship between the two documents? In plain terms: absolutely none.

Leafing through the PNRR it is clear that on paper – and we stress this – the Ministry for Ecological Transition has the prime responsibility for Mission 2 – Green Revolution and Ecological Transition which is based on almost €60 billion of funding.

Components and resources (in billions of €)

M2C1: CIRCULAR ECONOMY AND SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE: 5.27
M2C2: RENEWABLE ENERGY, HYROGEN, SUSTAINABLE NETWORK AND MOBILITY: 23.78 M2C3 ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND UPGRADING BUILDINGS: 15.36
M2C4 PROTECTION OF THE LAND AND WATER RESOURCES: 15.06

A real turning point? The first three objectives take the lion’s share of the funding, with 15 billion remaining for the protection of the land and water resources. This is little enough in itself, but in addition the money is directed towards anything but the protection of soil fertility, its consumption, and its role in ecosystems. Finally, it is a real shame that in order to spend the money quickly, the money has been allocated to projects by the biggest private concerns, leaving nothing for the bodies that are obliged to face the problems described year after year in the ISPRA’s reports.

The suspicion naturally arises that the experts who drafted the PNRR failed to involve the experts of the ISPRA. Even more shockingly, it looks as though the authors of the PNRR had not read a single one of the reports on the soil produced by their own national research body.

As usual, in short, “the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing”.

However, on page 81, among the “Other Reforms to Accompany the Plan” we read that “Finally, in line with the European objectives, the Government is committed to pass a law on soil consumption that sets out the basic principles of reuse, urban regeneration and limits on soil consumption, putting in place positive measures for the future of the building industry and the protection and enhancement of farming activities”.

If the PNRR says this … we should be worried! Those who will be responsible for drafting the government’s new law on the soil will not start either from our January 2018 proposal, nor from the ISPRA’s annual reports… unless we make such a fuss that our voices are heard.

https://www.isprambiente.gov.it/it/attivita/suolo-e-territorio/il-consumo-di-suolo/i-dati-sul- consumo-di-suolo https://www.governo.it/sites/governo.it/files/PNRR.pdf