Climate Change and Environmental Risk in the City

Climate Change and Environmental Risk in the City

Environmental issues are becoming more and more a key challenge for cities around the world. C40 shows that “70% of cities are already dealing with the effects of climate change”. Cities have played a significant role in accelerating risks because of the continuous and unlimited urban growth we have witnessed in the past years. They are becoming bigger and bigger, creating over 70% of global CO2 emissions, and consuming ⅔ of the world’s energy. A striking C40 data warns us of the catastrophic effects that climate change can have on urban societies in the future: “Over 90% of all urban areas are coastal, putting most cities on Earth at risk of flooding from rising sea levels and powerful storms”.

What are the consequences of these environmental risks for the future of our cities? How to manage it? What solutions can we find?

In order to avoid any simplistic explanation on a topic of such importance and complexity, we ought to make clarity on the real terms of the discussion. What is risk and how do we define it?

Ulrich Beck sees a different and more obscure dimension to development; a “risk society” based on an acute awareness of risks and loss of faith in progress.
Even more interesting, is how this reflexive modernity embodies the exegesis of the progressive disillusion with institutional and traditional politics. According to Beck this detachment from traditional rhetorics produces a “sub-politics”, concerned with issues such as consumption and lifestyle.
Following this post-modern flavor, Beck concentrated initially on environmental issues such as the problematization of energy. Unlike goods, these “bads” could not be subject to a politics of distribution. The smog produced by domestic coal-burning, affected everyone. Because of this “egalitarian” redistributive effect, environmental hazards constitute an undiscriminated threat for everyone.

Natural hazards and disaster produce increasing catastrophes in cities (just see what has blown up Italy in the last few days!). That does not mean that other kinds of hazards are incapable of producing urban catastrophes. The answer is that natural hazards are joint products of nature and society. Unlike the other threats just mentioned, they are only partly created by humans; thus their unpredictable nature contributes to an incremental and general insecurity.

Since the industrial revolution cities are risk-producers and risk-bearers, both victims and executioners. Economic activity, sprawl and proximity have caused cities to become less and less sustainable; in particular we can infer a negative correlation between economic productivity and sustainability. Take a city-state as Singapore for example; in 1965 it was a polluter’s paradise: mucky rivers, polluted canals and raw sewage running rampant. A modern “Coke Town”. Per contra, things are changing because of the efforts of enlightened personalities. The city’s pioneer generation understood that if you make a city “a nice place to live, then people will come and invest.” Lee Kuan Yew became often called ‘Chief Gardener’ for his belief in the power of plants and biodiversity to transform people’s overall mental well-being, as well as physical spaces. Huge plants crawling up skyscrapers, natural parks and water sanitation measures (just to clean-up Singapore’s river took around 10 years!) represent a significant step towards global future objectives.

The renowned 2030 Agenda of Sustainable Development addresses global challenges such as poverty, inequality but also climate and environmental degradation Nevertheless, 12 years seem to be not enough to face multifarious issues. Concerns have been raised too by the ASviS (Alleanza Italiana per lo Sviluppo Sostenibile). In the recently issued report, the association expressed its concern with respect to the “too slow” progress towards the SDGs, both for Italy and the European Union, which should present a framework of policies by the end of the year.

The 7th Environment Action Program (EAP) constitutes for the moment, the legislative and guiding framework to work on, identifying key objectives such as the protection of natural capital; the transformation towards a resource-efficient, low-carbon economy; and to safeguard Union’s citizens fro environment-related pressures.



Therefore, we should prepare our institutions and environmental management strategies for the twenty-first century, especially in the mega-cities that will likely become the pivots of global society. Worth mentioning is what 100 Resilient Cities does and aims to; pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation, their ultimate objective is to help cities to become more resilient to the physical, social and economic challenges – earthquakes, floods, sprawl, etc. – of the XXI century. Their philosophy is that, addressing both the shocks and the stresses, a city becomes more able to respond to adverse events, and is overall better able to deliver basic functions in both good times and bad, to all populations.

Thus, can we meet the basic needs—food, water, and energy—of a growing population and a growing economy and do better for biodiversity by 2030? If each country shows an increasing commitment towards environmental risk management, the answer will be probably an affirmative one. As James Mitchell has observed, failure to recognize natural hazards as a worsening urban problem suggests a myopic view of urban management and signals flaws in the conceptualization of sustainable development as a principle of urban management. It is to be hoped that efforts will be canalized into correcting the structural deficiencies peculiar of our risk society.

The Scottish Government’s response to the report of the Scottish Expert Advisory Panel on the Collaborative Economy

The Scottish Government’s response to the report of the Scottish Expert Advisory Panel on the Collaborative Economy



The Scottish Expert Advisory Panel conceived in April 2017, has surely contributed to accumulate food for thought around new issues concerning the Collaborative Economy. The Scottish Government issued its response to the Panel’s report in July 2018.

The purposive character of the said Panel was to provide advice and technical expertise to the on-going policy development on the collaborative economy; its programmatic nature instead, envisioned a series of recommendations addressed to the Scottish Government. The latter’s response, published in the July report, seems nevertheless to be perfectly aligned with the Panel’s recommendations and inclinations.

According to the Government, the collaborative economy undeniably constitutes a powerful tool to connect individuals and communities through online platforms and allowing goods and services to be shared without the need for ownership. Its huge potential is said to contribute to a fairer and more socially responsible economy for Scotland, supporting a responsive and agile regulatory environment with a focus on platforms that deliver fair work while contributing to inclusive growth.

The focus on Scotland’s role in the digital economy for instance, has resulted in the coming into being of public-private partnerships projects, such as Digital Tourism Scotland. As a matter of fact, the so-called “visitor economy” contributes significantly to a country’s growth. Major concerns have been devolved to transport infrastructures, cultural heritage and recreational opportunities.

Additionally, the Panel underlined the growing importance of social or collaborative finance, such as crowdfunding. The latter is considered to be an emerging source of finance that involves open calls to the public to finance projects or platforms. Usually, we distinguish between two types of support: reward based crowdfunding and donation based crowdfunding. The benefits of crowdfunding are multiple: its inclusiveness, its flexibility and its scope.

Diverse and new economic models are fundamental for a de facto community-led urban development; the following topic has been explored during the conference Funding the Cooperative City held in Rome during the month of May. Here, local and international speakers discussed and shared their innovative collaborative methodologies, between environmental sustainability, collaborative governance and social economy.

Finally, another point of interest for the Panel is fostering digital collaborative platforms to accelerate the development of businesses and social enterprises, and to develop new strategies to support peer to peer collaborations between social enterprises.

The Scottish Government underlines then the launch of ShareLab Scotland as a pilot innovative and collaborative platform. Progresses have been made in the energy sector where crowdfunding has been employed to support community owned renewable energy.

Similarly, a workshop of the local support group of the Urbact Network Urbinclusion recognized the need to develop new economic models applied to public-private partnerships to foster community welfare, under the flag of three imperatives: regulation, responsibility and governance.

In conclusion, the Scottish Government’s efforts will try to respond to the growing imperatives underlined by the Panel in order to create a fairer and more equal Scotland centered on a sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

Legacy – a convention in memory of Stefano Rodotà

Legacy – a convention in memory of Stefano Rodotà

L’Università degli Studi di Torino (“Collegio Carlo Alberto”) sarà la sede fisica che ospiterà, nelle giornate che vanno dal 15 al 18 marzo 2018, il convegno Legacy nel ricordo della figura di Stefano Rodotà.

Le quattro giornate lungo le quali si articolerà e svilupperà il dialogo, vedono tra i suoi partecipanti numerosi studiosi di diritto civile, privato e urbanistico.

Come mostra il programma,  il primo tema e focus del dialogo sarà quello delle “ideologie e tecniche della (ri)codificazione del diritto privato”. Dopo l’introduzione del Professore Ugo Mattei (Università di Torino), la suddivisione della prima giornata, presenterà due sessioni più una “tavola rotonda”, come momento partecipativo e di dialogo conclusivo.

Il tema precedentemente menzionato, sarà affrontato successivamente, anche nelle giornate del 16 e 17 marzo, alla fine delle quali si alterneranno due diversi momenti dedicati all’arte, rispettivamente musica e teatro, in onore di Stefano Rodotà.

Tuttavia, sempre nella giornata del 17 Marzo, sarà affrontata e discussa parallelamente e da diversi relatori tra cui Christian Iaione e Franco Bassanini, l’aspetto della conferenza relativo alla “Civitas”. I relatori menzionati affronteranno il tema delle infrastrutture sociali; l’introduzione e il coordinamento sarà a cura di Edoardo Reviglio (IUC Torino). Guido Calabresi e Franco Gallo invece, dialogheranno intorno ai temi di costituzione, cittadinanza e democrazia.

Il dialogo intorno al suddetto tema, continua nella giornata conclusiva del 18 Marzo e verterà sulla città, beni comuni e altri correlativi al tema.

La giornata terminerà con una lectio in ricordo dell’esimio giurista e professore, Stefano Rodotà.



The University College of Torino “Carlo Alberto”, will host from the 15th until the 18th  of March, the Legacy convention, in memory of Stefano Rodotà. The convention will be articulated along four days, where the participant involved (experts in private, civil and urban law) will engage in discussions concerning different topics that range from Private Law Codification to Social Infrastructures, the city and citizenship.

The first topic of discussion (“Ideologies and techniques of (re)codification of private law”) will be introduced and coordinated by Professor Ugo Mattei (University College of Turin); it will further develop in the next two days of the convention.

In parallel with the aforementioned topic, another equally important one will be developed during the 17th and 18th of March. Between the relators, we shall mention Christian Iaione and Franco Bassanini; the two will discuss about social Infrastructures and the commons, after having been introduced and coordinated by Edoardo Reviglio (IUC Torino). Guido Calabresi and Franco Gallo instead, will deal with three highly debated topics: constitution, citizenship and democracy.

The epilogue of the convention, will be a lectio in honor of the distinguished lawyer and professor, Stefano Rodotà.