Sustainability is growing in the Italian lifestyle, business and governance. The yearly assessment has been recently drawn up within one of the most popular trade fairs in the field. Ecomondo by the Italian Exhibition Group, held from the 7th until the 10th November 2023 at Fiera di Rimini (Emilia-Romagna, Italy), offered a comprehensive program of conferences, keynotes and events with the aim to showcase the latest trends in technology, regulatory framework and market innovations. A targeted Technical Scientific Committee representing the world of science, business, consortium as well as major institutions at national and European level, selected the most advanced companies and startups pushing Italian territory towards a decarbonised social and economic ecosystem. Circular Economy, Waste Management, Governance, Legal Framework, Sustainable Labour Market, Smart Cities, European Funding to foster Sustainable Development, Sustainable Creativity and Fashion were some of the key topics of this edition.
The "Stati Generali della Green Economy" (States General of the Green Economy), held on the 7th and the 8th November 2023 within Ecomondo, offered a picture of the current Italian situation as for the national environmentally friendly economy management.
The 2023 edition, in particular, focused on :
Circular Economy of Non-Biological Supply Chains;
Circular Economy of Biological Supply Chains;
Water Resource Management and Environmental Monitoring;
Ecosystem Regeneration, Regenerative Economy and Prevention of Environmental Risks.
Various companies presented innovative solutions, networking, job meetings and roundtables to boost fully sustainable supply chains in core issues like WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) management, paper-cardboard, textile, plastic.
Eco-design, using of secondary raw materials in the industrial sector, have been put in the spotlight, referring to the Green Deal Industrial Plan by the European Commission.
Blue Economy, agro-forestry and water eco-management, smart cities, fight against food waste have been debated as well, besides making reference to research, innovation, communication, financing and funding.
A special section enhanced creativity making art from waste products within SCART project by Hera Group, first Italian aggregation of municipal energy and environmental services with a multi-business approach. The initiative brings out the artistic expression from new generations of artists attending the Academies of Fine Arts of Florence, Ravenna and Rimini and San Patrignano, leading center in drug rehabilitation.
Thirty composed works of art were on display at Economodo 2023 to pay tribute to the sports world.
The States General of the Green Economy #statigreen2023 provided an updated snapshot on Italy’s performance towards a totally sustainable future, as described in the Relazione sullo Stato della Green Economy (Report on the State of the Green Economy). Trends could be better in terms of decarbonisation, greenhouse-gases reduction a renewable energy spreading, compared to European targets. In 2022, energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions increased by around 5% while extra 3 GW from renewable-energy plants were installed. However, good signs are working their way up. Recycling rate is aiming high (total of 72%) and protected area are growing throughout the Peninsula, ranked in the 19th position at European level. Resource productivity is still one of the best ones in European Union (3.3 euros of GDP per kg of resource consumed).
Full-Electric mobility (total of 32000 vehicles in June 2023) is taking hold but is still very far from the European Union average. As for Natural Capital, Italy is extremely rich in biodiversity but only 21.4% of its territory, and 6.9% of the marine space, is under protection, below the European standards.
"L'economia di Domani: una Green Economy Decarbonizzata, Circolare e Rigenerativa" (The Economy of Tomorrow: a Decarbonised, Circular and Regenerative Green Economy), that was the main theme of the technical conference which was held for two days gathering sixty-eight business organisations by the will of the Ministero dell'Ambiente e della Sicurezza Energetica (Italian Ministry of Environment and Energy Security) and the Fondazione per lo Sviluppo Sostenibile (Foundation for Sustainable Development).
Edo Ronchi, President of the Foundation, pointed out: « A greater commitment for the ecological transition towards the economy of tomorrow could contribute decisively to the relaunch of the Italian economy, to promote innovation and investment. From simplifications to a more certain regulatory framework for decarbonisation, from a reduction in energy costs with a stronger development of renewable sources, cheaper and safer, from strengthening Circular Economy to encouraging the national industrial eco-transition, we could promote the revival of the Italian economy to prevent a worrying stagnation ».
« On the eve of COP28, which will confirm being behind schedule with respect to the Paris agreements, projecting the global temperature rise towards 2.4 degrees instead of 1.5, the progress of China in the field of investments for decarbonisation and the Inflation Reduction Action introduced in the United States, represent an important stage for the climate and competitiveness of the European economy ».
Besides the annual report, wanted to provide a proactive approach through eleven priority proposals to promote the ecological transition including a targeted law on climate and soil, a new environmental taxation, bureaucratic streamlining, a wider response on energy and circularity productions and consumption. The Osservatorio sulla Transizione Ecologica dell’Economia e delle Imprese Italiane (Observatory on the Ecological Transition of the Italian Economy and Businesses) was officially launched with the aim at supporting industrial technology and innovation for the ecological transition.
The Italian economic, social and environmental ecosystem could benefit greatly from a comprehensive decarbonisation in compliance to the "Fit for 55" European package.
The implementation of European measures for the Circular Economy would allow to save 82.5 billion of imported materials by 2030, while increasing waste recycling activities up to 4 billion euros and to reducing the costs of landfill waste disposal up to 7.3 billion euros. As for the application of the European Nature Restoration Law, Italy should incur lower costs because national natural environments are better preserved than in other countries, benefiting from their restoration up to 2.4 billion euros, with benefits that exceed about 9 times the costs incurred.
Italian medium and small companies seem to have already reversed the course. According to a dedicated survey by EY, established company for data analysis, corporate responsibility and technology transformation, Italian companies are increasingly prone to integrate sustainability within their business. Over 90% of companies contacted have already included sustainable indicators to evaluate their non-financial performances and over 80% have developed a sustainable supply-chain strategy. This is now considered essential to boost ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) investments, sustainable innovation and green procurements.
Irene Pipola, Sustainability Consulting Leader of EY in Italy, reaffirmed: « The implementation of sustainable procurement programs represents an opportunity for companies to provide a long-term growth and value creation, but it is also a challenge, given its complex nature, the expected time and the difficulties encountered in the processes. (...) Looking to the future, technology will play a decisive role as the implementation of ESG criteria into current and future procurement management processes and systems ». ***
By Maurice Abbati
Springer International Publishing