The role of sustainability is now more decisive than ever to start the socio-economic recovery and overcome the climate emergency. Due to the crisis we are experiencing, this is a unique moment to plan the future as we want it, founded on sustainable development.
This was the premise for ASviS – Alleanza Italiana per lo Sviluppo Sostenibile (the Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development), made up of 270 organisations including the Enel Foundation – to promote ASviS Live: Tre passi verso il Festival (Three steps towards the Festival). The initiative consists of three online events to discuss the actions and policies required to reinforce and steer the socio-economic system in the direction outlined by the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda.
The appointments have been scheduled for 21 and 28 May and 4 June, during the same period in which the 2020 edition of the ASviS Sustainable Development Festival was due to take place, until it was rescheduled to run from 22 September to 8 October because of the Covid-19 emergency and consequent government directives. The meetings are intended as a build-up to the Festival and will all be broadcast via live stream, in order to engage with the widest number of citizens, institutions, companies, associations, research centres and universities in a joint reflection about the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Sustainability, the right choice to kick-start Italy
The event on 21 May, “Orientare le scelte, disegnare il futuro” (Orienting choices, designing the future), focused on the policies to immediately implement in order to build a sustainable future at both national and European level. Among the participants at the meeting were Executive Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans, Italian Minister for Equal Opportunities and Family Elena Bonetti, Milan’s Mayor Giuseppe Sala, and popular science author and television host Piero Angela.
In order to tackle the crisis and avoid new upsets, the President of ASviS Pierluigi Stefanini explained, as he opened the event, we need “individual and corporate policies and choices that look to the medium-long term, in order to protect, promote, prevent, prepare and transform our socio-economic systems” moving towards sustainability. The risk we run in Italy, warned ASviS spokesperson Enrico Giovannini, is that we might settle for a recovery that looks only to the short term and therefore takes us back to where we were prior to the pandemic, instead of deciding to change. For this reason, now more than ever, underlined Giovannini, “the 2030 Agenda is the guide for the future, also thanks to the European Commission’s decision to maintain the priorities set before the crisis: the Green New Deal, digitalisation, innovation, the fight against inequality and all of the other policies that revolve around the Agenda. This is exactly what we must do”.
This vision was shared by Timmermans, who attended remotely from Brussels: “To tackle the crisis we must invest in the future, in the circular economy, and we must do so quickly, with adequate means and with a spirit of solidarity, because if one country falls then we all fall. In order to convince our citizens that this is the right choice, we must invest in projects that give us immediate results”. For this reason, he concluded, the Commission is preparing interventions targeting the energy efficiency of residential buildings, sustainable mobility and smart cities, all of which are capable of quickly creating development opportunities and new jobs.
Towards a sustainable recovery
The second ASviS Live event, “Towards a transformative recovery based on resilience and sustainability”, will be dedicated to the economic effects of the crisis. Some of the leading representatives from the business world and the Third Sector will take part in the meeting, to outline how business models are changing. Together with union representatives, they will also be discussing job conditions, the employment market and continuing education. The event will include the presentation of some initiatives launched by ASviS members during the coronavirus crisis to contribute to the country’s recovery (also highlighted on the #AlleanzaAgisce page), as well as an introduction to the project for a new e-learning course dedicated to companies’ sustainable transformation.
The opportunities of an interconnected world
The final day of the event, “Sustainable environment, health and society: looking for connections”, will examine the relationship between environmental and social phenomena and their potential weaknesses. In celebrating World Environment Day, a remote connection will be set up to the Living Chapel, an installation created in Rome’s Botanical Gardens and inspired by the 2030 Agenda and Pope Francis’s “Laudato Si’” (Praise Be to You) encyclical.
“Extraordinary measures have been taken”, concluded Giovannini at the first event, “but Italy needs to adopt a precise plan to foster resilience, sustainability and equality, which will be the focus of funding made available by the European Union, and to pursue a systemic vision encompassing different policies, in order to avoid dissipating resources and undermining the efforts made. We owe this, above all, to the younger generations, who will feel the effects of the choices we make today”.