Article of Regione Veneto, Claudio Perin published in ©UrbJus – Novità normative e giurisprudenziali:
We rarely deal with documents and European legislation in this section, but perhaps it is worth considering - at least from time to time - the European context within which regional and local territorial policies aimed at sustainability, such as that expressed - just to cite the most recent example and to us closer - from the recent Venetian law on the limitation of land consumption, are defined and focused.
In fact, more than one wondered why in most of the Italian regions (and, at the level of initiative that has been under discussion for years, also at national level) it has been deemed necessary to elaborate specific measures on this issue - land consumption - when since several years urban plans already include a mandatory sustainability assessment developed at European level (the SEA), which focuses mainly on new settlement forecasts.
Evidently we are facing an emergency that requires exceptional interventions, and certainly consumption and land degradation are not exclusive to our peninsula, although Italy suffers more than other European countries for its orography, its history and its vocations. settlement.
Nevertheless, in the development of the measures in this area, it has been realized that the consumption of soil has very different connotations in terms of sustainability: there are "land uses" (it seems more appropriate to use this term) that are less sustainable than others, and this consideration concerns not only the settlement and infrastructural uses, but also some agricultural uses.
So, what is sustainability? Is there a shared and accepted definition at European level? This is a question that should be good to find an answer to, given that sustainability is the leiv motiv of any new national or regional legislative initiative in urban planning. Yet, sometimes it seems there are references to sustainability, without a precise awareness of how it has been translated in the supranational and European agendas designed to orientate territorial policies.
The document on the "state of art" prepared by the Veneto Region as part of the CESBA Alps European Project, tries to answer these questions, analyzing in detail what has been produced at international and European level in recent years in an attempt to give concrete and measurable contents to a concept (or a "recipe", in the metaphor of our title) so complex and articulated.
The last two decades have seen an enormous proliferation of methods and indicators to measure sustainable development. Many indicators have been proposed in the academic literature, and many international institutes and bodies have adopted sets of composite indicators in an attempt to trace and measure the progresses being made towards a society that would like to be "sustainable" in an increasingly wider sense, and no longer only in terms of individual components (for example, energy or environmental).
These initiatives contributed to incorporate sustainable development into the agenda of national and international institutions, but the differences in approaches remain broad, linked to different points of view, needs, expectations and cultures of each country, as well as to the different political, economic and regulatory framework.
The picture that comes out from the study is therefore full of links, overlaps and discontinuities, with approaches more or less partial and differentiated, but there is a clear convergence on some points:
- the search for a "holistic" definition of sustainable development, able to hold together all the components of sustainability through the evaluation of interconnections and the effects of actions and sector policies; in "holistic" terms, the functional sum of the components is always different from the sum of the performances of the parts taken singularly;
- the need for a more focused approach to monitor concrete results, rather than the "numbers" themselves (of actions implemented, resources used, sectors or actors involved, etc.);
- the need to develop indicators able to measure and monitor the level of achievement of sustainability objectives (in terms of the "concrete results", as referred above) and to have available, updatable and accessible data to feed databases and indicators;
- the need to find greater coherence between sectoral policies and actions on the basis of a common "vision", built on shared sustainability objectives and without ambiguous translations at national or local level;
- the awareness that the sustainable development objectives can be successfully achieved by the EU and its Member States if the new policies take into account the sustainability and consistency of policies and actions from the beginning, and whether the implementation of these is pursued in cooperation with all interested parties and at all levels of government.
The adoption of univocal and shared sustainability objectives requires a significant change in the implementation of economic, social and environmental policies, based on the integration between the different dimensions of development, on the definitive overcoming of the idea that there is a hierarchy, even temporal, between economy, society and the environment, on giving equal consideration to the short-term and long-term effects of policies.
The document on the "State of Art" will be made available, as soon as it is shared with the project partners, on the CESBA Alps website.