For months now, public debate about Italy’s post-pandemic economic recovery has focused on an upcoming deadline.
On April 30, the country must submit a “recovery and resilience plan” to the European Commission to access funds from its Next Generation EU program.
Italy’s Economic Recovery
Italy will need to take the environment into account.
The program is a key element in the European Union’s planned climate transition to becoming the first climate-neutral bloc by 2050.
Under the Next Generation EU program, which is intended to help countries out of the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is 37 percent of each country’s investments.
This includes measures like developing renewables, improving buildings’ energy efficiency.
And spurring sustainable transport—will have to be related to climate.
Brussels is betting on a fundamental transformation of EU’s member states’ economies and societies by tying recovery funds to its climate goals.
But in Italy, the impending deadline has set off a kind of “fear of missing out.”
This has drowned out discussion on the actual content of the plan.
Critics say it’s being drafted with little transparency or civil society participation.
They argue that what little is known indicates an outsized focus on technology.
This is without companion policies supporting community-based economic investment.
Given the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises to Italy’s economy and the growing role of local, sustainable ventures in production.
As well as consumers globally, sidelining them is a missed opportunity for Italy’s government to chart a leading course on green growth.
In Italy, three drafts of the plan were published between December 2020 and January 2021.
But those plans lacked technical details.
Filling those out was one of the main points of contention when, earlier this year, Italy’s governing coalition collapsed.
Following a rebellion by former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and his small Italia Viva party.
Former European Central Bank President Mario Draghi is now at the helm.
Italy deals with the third wave of coronavirus cases and deaths.
Amid a slower-than-expected vaccine rollout across the EU.
Italy recently passed 100,000 known deaths, second in Europe only to the United Kingdom.
Italy won’t be starting from zero when it comes to adapting its economy to the climate transition.
Italy is already a circular economy leader in Europe, in large part due to its technological advances.
Although waste management has been hugely problematic in some large cities in Italy.
This is including Rome, Italy also hosts some of the most innovative recycling technology in the world.
Including the first plant to recycle diapers and the only one in the world producing the organic compound butanediol.
All from sugars to make compostable bioplastics.
Although industrial innovation is important to building a circular economy, the community is too.
The idea of moving away from an economic model based on extracting, making, and disposing toward one.
Based on recycling, reusing, and repairing has a strong human dimension.
In the midst of an economic crisis, community innovation can be leveraged to create jobs.
As well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The focus, when addressing the latter, is often on renewable energy.
But an estimated 45 percent of emissions come from the production and consumption of products and food, which means the circularity of the economy should play a key role.