A Green Community as a tool for the reactivation and valorisation of small towns

The Project intends to delve into the dynamics that have led to the marginalization and depopulation of most Calabrian municipalities, to find strategies to reactivate small towns, directing interventions on accessibility and social and economic development. The starting point is a particularly diversified territory, both from the point of view of settlement but also of services and mobility, spanning three provinces, Vibo Valentia, Catanzaro and Reggio Calabria. A part of this territory appears to be lacking in services and mobility infrastructures, with a continuously increasing trend of depopulation and with a strong marginalization compared to the larger urban centres, providers of essential services, but at the same time rich in ecosystem services and heritage archaeological historians. Hence the project proposal is to create a Green Community made up of ten municipalities that have similar settlement, environmental, morphological, social and cultural characteristics. To intervene on governance and manage the territory in the form of a community of municipalities, working on three themes, the condition of the Internal Area, the valorisation of environmental tourism and the production of energy from renewable sources. The working method used was characterized by three phases, one of analysis of the territory and the socio-economic-demographic dynamics relating to the entire region through collaboration with local administrations. The second phase was the analysis of the data that emerged, identifying the critical issues and resources. As a third phase, some sectoral objectives and strategies were identified, to then define a series of interventions to be implemented in the area with the bodies involved. The project theme carried out is extremely current, thanks to the PNRR (European funds) the theme of Green Communities has become a priority, financing 35 new communities. Given the complexity of the project, we expected a few years for its complete implementation. An important evolution is to make administrators aware of the potential that exists, working in synergy with neighboring municipalities, to achieve common objectives. The future development and repopulation of these areas starts from a territorial regeneration that considers different realities and knows how to join forces.

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Overview of the issue and your approach: The analysis of the current situation highlighted numerous natural areas that make the territory unique from the point of view of biodiversity and a high propensity for renewable energy. Regarding the infrastructures and services available to the community, however, there are numerous critical issues, linked to fragmentation of inhabited centres and poor accessibility. The nearby polarities, if connected, constitute an opportunity for the internal municipalities, as they offer the missing services and for themselves to be able to benefit from the environmental and landscape quality of the latter. The possible threat to the project is that the green community remains an island separated from the context. To avoid this, a series of interventions have been identified at different scales (regional, territorial, and inter-municipal) which aim to promote new urban management systems. based on cooperation between municipalities with similar characteristics. The choice of the green community as an intervention model is an innovation in Italy and starts from the desire to strengthen small municipalities that alone would not be able to develop policies and plans for regeneration. The points addressed concern the digitalisation of the territory through a web portal to promote resources, and at the same time offer services to the community, the development of smart mobility which allows reducing distances and travel difficulties, the development of public-private partnership through agreements that allow the promotion of local products and finally the transformation of unused public and private buildings into new structures serving the community and tourists, such as the conversion of the abandoned village of Nardodipace into a widespread hotel and museum linked to traditional tourism.
The stakeholders in your project: The project saw the involvement of various bodies active in the area, such as business municipalities and companies. Furthermore, each intervention has been carefully studied from both an urban planning, financial and governmental point of view, interfacing with national bodies such as the Italian State Railways, energy companies and regional administration.