Solidarity and civic initiatives during COVID-19: The cases of Frena La Curva and Ingreso Básico Solidario

Solidarity and civic initiatives during COVID-19: The cases of Frena La Curva and Ingreso Básico Solidario

According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Weekly Epidemiological Updates on COVID-19, with information as of December 13, 2020, the number of cases and deaths continued to increase to 70 million cumulative cases and 1.5 million global deaths since the onset of the pandemic. 

The urgency of the situation has favored the emergence of alternatives of various kinds to alleviate the health, economic, social, psychological, etc. effects of the pandemic, many of these alternatives being of a citizen nature, guided by civil society and other diverse actors. 

An example of these initiatives is Frena la Curva – FLC (Slow Down the Curve):

(…) a citizen platform in which volunteers, entrepreneurs, activists, social organizations, makers and laboratories cooperate in public and open innovation, to channel and organize social energy and civic resilience to the COVID-19 pandemic, giving a response from civil society complementary to that of the government and the essential public services. (Frena la curva, 2020)

FLC began on March 12 when the LAAAB team (Open Government Laboratory – Government of Aragon) reflected on the need for some mechanism to organize, channel and enhance the wave of solidarity generated as a result of the advance of the virus, to which groups of volunteers, enterprises and social organizations joined.

Then other open innovation laboratories from all over Spain participated, thanks to which the initiative reached national level when the website frenalacurva.net was launched. Subsequently, it reached Latin American countries thanks to the networks previously created by the civic innovation laboratories promoted by the Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB).

A series of phases and steps were established to facilitate the process to countries that wanted to replicate the model, as narrated on their website, remaining as follows:

Phase 1: “URGENT”

STEP 0. Amphibious alliances to weave a community: 

In FLC, the public, the private, the social and the common spheres converge. Different actors convened for a common purpose, following an intensive model of “Think and Do Net”, due to the pressing situation. 

STEP 1. A forum for organizing resistance:

The original idea of creating a self-help application was modified by the speed with which the context changed. it was decided to develop a forum serving as a repository for the social innovation and citizen creativity initiatives that emerged, grouping them into various topics, which today are: To do with the children, Education / To learn, Among neighbors, Work, Culture, Information, Care, Connection, Distributed Citizen Laboratories and Suggestions.

STEP 2. Generate direct impact:

As the digital community and initiatives continued to grow, the need to take action to generate direct impact with the particularities of each local environment became apparent. However, more inclusive and replicable formats such as Distributed Citizen Laboratories and a map that referenced the different initiatives were also considered.

In Latin America, organizational processes to replicate FLC through Telegram began to take place; the first countries to do so were Colombia and Mexico. While each country created its own strategy, FLC offered support and advice.

STEP 3. Distributed Citizen Laboratories

An open call was launched for which 20 projects were registered, some of which were selected. There was a call for collaborators and about 200 people began working on the development of ideas, organizing through various platforms so that projects continued to stay afloat and remain viable. 

STEP 4. A map to take action

An application was developed in the form of a map to organize solidarity between neighbors with the help of a group of trusted volunteers to ensure the safe use of the platform.

The map allows to coordinate the needs of help with the offering of the same, the channeling of the support to people in vulnerable situations through intermediaries, as well as to indicate the existence of public services to satisfy those needs.

Phase 2: “IMPORTANT”

STEP 5. Ecosystem consolidation and map use

The community continued to grow and at the same time, some volunteers asked for relays due to the amount of work. New countries were incorporated and new possibilities arose to create direct impact through the map: traceability of needs with the support of specialized organizations, exchange of materials between maker communities and attention to schools and children without Internet access.

STEP 6. Growth

New partnerships were created with NGOs, neighborhood associations, institutions, etc. to increase the impact of the map. Processes emerging in Latin America were accompanied and an open innovation festival called “Common Challenges” was organized last April.

Distributed Citizen Laboratories

In the case of Distributed Citizen Laboratories, the developed projects were the following:

1. Ingreso Básico Solidario – IBS (Solidarity Basic Income).

2. Citizen map for the construction of local and responsible consumption circuits in the neighborhoods.

3. Community network for food care A Coruña.

4. Design of a community for the management of well-being in COVID-19 times.

5. Collection of official COVID-19 data by province in Spain.

6. Pedagogy and learning. Mathematics and statistics. 

7. Playing with light, first-person stories by resilient children.

8. Standard form for neighborhood ladder communication.

9. #YaVoyxTi, collaborative solidarity app in times of coronavirus.

10. Cooperative voucher for solidarity and future purchase in local markets.

11. Study on participatory designs in emergency situations.

12. Literary diary of confinement.

As can be seen, all projects addressed varied and current problems that require timely solutions. However, the case of project 1. Ingreso Básico Solidario (Solidarity Basic Income) will be explained in more detail since it was personally experienced in Mexico, a country that according to the WHO’s COVID-19 Weekly Epidemiological Update of 15 December 2020, ranks fifth in cumulative cases and third in cumulative deaths in the Americas region.

One of the identified needs was to alleviate the economic effects of the pandemic that tends to increase the existing inequalities, particularly affecting people who were already in situations of economic vulnerability and structural violence.

For this reason, a platform was developed to facilitate the coordination between people who detected some economic need in their neighborhoods or communities, donors who would like to support them, and associations that could channel the resources obtained through crowdfunding campaigns.

The initiative, which echoes the proposals for implementing a Universal Basic Income, seeks to reflect on the need for a basic income that guarantees minimum material well-being. Since the efforts of the states of the global South have been insufficient to ensure this right in the face of the crisis, IBS proposes collective forms of organization to deal with it from what is common.

The first viable prototype was developed between March and April when the first campaign was launched, and the model worked until August when the project paused to define more agile and efficient mechanisms to carry out the initiatives. During this time five campaigns were launched, benefiting around 275 people with the grossing of $121,869 Mexican pesos.

The campaigns were promoted mainly in the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area, Mexico’s second-largest city, but also had an impact in other Mexican cities, supporting the provision of food and medicine for people in vulnerable situations, personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, as well as the development of educational, cultural activities and psychosocial care for children. 

These initiatives have similarities with those catalyzed by FLC, that have revolved around access to food, coordination between small producers and consumers, support for community kitchens, attention to cases of gender-based violence during confinement and child needs, neighborhood mutual support, transformative economies, promotion of social and solidarity economy ventures, the boost to local currencies, the production and distribution of personal protective equipment, among many other topics.

After 8 months since launch, the FLC platform has been replicated in more than 20 countries, incorporating situated knowledge for its development, according to the particularities of the context. In Europe, it has a presence in Spain, France, Poland, Portugal, and Germany; while in Latin America it is found in Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Peru, Venezuela, Chile, Bolivia. In addition, the countries of Central America, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador joined forces to create a single Central American map.

According to its website, among other FLC impact indicators are more than 900 initiatives registered in the citizen innovation guide, more than 9000 pins on the map, more than 140 Common Challenges projects, 200 people participating in Distributed Laboratories, 800 people cooperating in online communities, and more.

This is particularly relevant given that the regions of the Americas and Europe, where the countries that replicated the FLC model are located, are the ones that continue to carry the greatest burden of the pandemic, being 85% of the new cases and 86% of new deaths globally, according to the WHO’s COVID-19 Weekly Epidemiological Update of 15 December 2020. 

It is worth mentioning that FLC is just one of the numerous solidarity responses that have emerged in the face of the COVID-19 crisis throughout the world; however, it provides us with clues about the importance of developing and promoting open, innovative and collaborative civic initiatives in which the affected population actively participates in the resolution of the many challenges that we face in common.

“Facing the crisis from what is common.
Together we are stronger, stand in solidarity!”

References:

Frena la curva. (2020). Frena la curva. Retrieved December 01, 2020, from https://frenalacurva.net/

Frena la curva América Latina. (2020). Retrieved December 03, 2020, from https://drive.google.com/file/d/1giNjs6rEtl3_B5tbWjsr_t-KEnBVmS25/view

Ingreso Básico Solidario. (2020). Ingreso Básico Solidario. Retrieved December 10, 2020, from http://ingresobasicosolidario.org/

World Health Organization. (2020, December 15). World Health Organization. Retrieved December 16, 2020, from https://www.who.int/publications/m/item/weekly-epidemiological-update—15-december-2020

Gamification in planning – fun and virtual participatory planning with Minecraft & Co

Gamification in planning – fun and virtual participatory planning with Minecraft & Co

Smart cities promise new, innovative ways of participating and co-creating the cities. While this is often an empty promise, there are some examples of virtual participatory planning that inspire hope. Especially considering Covid-19, we need a shift towards more inclusive and virtual ways of participation. 

This article will look at two computer game-based planning approaches that have proven successful and popular with citizens from all walks of life:

  1. Minecraft for redesigning urban spaces
  2. Cities:Skylines for redesigning urban districts

Example 1: Minecraft and Block by Block: Co-creating public spaces all over the world

In 2013, a Swedish project manager from Swedish Building Services started a cooperation with UN Habitat. Mr. Hallstrom had already implemented some urban planning projects using Minecraft in Sweden. Together with UN Habitat experts, he initiated the “Block by Block” project. This unique cooperation between UN Habitat and game company Mojang consists of participatory workshops, during which residents are encouraged to use Minecraft. Together with the experts, they design and re-design public spaces.

Before the Block by Block intervention in Sao Paulo, Brazil © UN-Habitat

UN Habitat’s Block by Block foundation has funded neighborhood projects in 37 countries already, enabling them to change the urban fabric in their environments. According to the project leaders, more than 25,000 people from diverse backgrounds and age groups have participated. While children and teenagers are most likely to know Minecraft, people from all walks of life have participated. 

Mr. Eugenio Gastelum, a digital technology specialist and consultant for UN Habitat in the Block by Block project, explains that workshop participants are always members of the local community. “We invite people that live around the public spaces, who use them, and who are the real experts of the local situation. We also invite all the stakeholders of the project, the architects, urbanists, or city planners of the project as key attendees, so they can listen to the participants during the workshop and see why they shape the project a certain way”, says Mr. Gastelum.

The rationale for using Minecraft is twofold: it is very appealing for younger generations, who can be included in urban topics and participatory processes via the game; and it is a very easy tool to use. The audience of Block by Block projects is very mixed and often consists of all age groups and different religions. Within 20 minutes, it is possible to teach even illiterate people to move blocks around in the game. For more complex procedures, the facilitators are there to assist.

After the Block by Block intervention in Sao Paulo, Brazil © UN-Habitat

Example 2: Developing a new city district in Stockholm with Cities: Skylines

Whereas Minecraft lends itself to public space planning, in particular, other games can be used at a more detailed level of urban planning. Cities:Skylines is particularly popular with urban planners due to its detail, and has even been used by the City of Stockholm in planning a new city district.

Cities: Skylines is a PC game in which you can build your own city. Along with other city-building simulators, such as SimCity, CityVille, or City Island, Cities: Skylines offers a reduced-stress environment to develop a city, providing quality of life for citizens and problem-solving as infrastructure and economic problems arise. Many urban planners use the game to actually showcase planning ideas and to test them out.

It is important to note that a game like Cities: Skylines also shows what is wrong with urban planning in the real world. This is showcased by how a player starts building cities: by connecting a series of roads, streets, and highways to an already existing main city entrance. This entrance is usually a flyover highway. It is the quintessential concept of American city designing.

Although there are community-created modifications (mods) in the game that allow you to design cities around pedestrian- or bicycle-oriented paths, private vehicles are the backbone of every city and of the whole game. Grid layouts are pushed, whereas public spaces, pedestrian space, and other elements of modern, liveable cities are easily neglected. Even when you focus on using more public transport, the base game makes it hard for you to experiment with more people-friendly urban utopias. In Cities: Skylines, cars are actually spawning out of nowhere.

Despite their faults, in terms of consequence analysis or basics of urban design and planning, games like Cities: Skylines can be very useful. In 2016, the city of Stockholm used the game to plan a new city district. Experts from Paradox, the game publisher that designed Cities: Skylines, were invited to a workshop with the goal of simulating a new district with 12,000 homes and 35,000 workspaces.

Professional city planners, as well as interested citizens and fans of the game, also attended the workshop, making it clear that the shortcomings of the game in terms of public participation can be easily remedied by enabling citizen dialogue and participation. The fact that the professionals used a popular, fun game may even have increased interest and participation.

Here is an impression of Norra Djurgardstaden in Stockholm as planned in Cities: Skylines (currently still under construction):

Can gamification foster participation?

Experts are hoping for gamification to be a new way of offering virtual (and fun) participatory tools to large parts of the population. The accessible tools can also serve to make the idea of a “Right to the City” more relatable, since participatory design tools are an important part of this right. 

Easy-to-learn computer and even smartphone games can allow citizens to co-create and change their urban environment with low cost and effort. As long as political will and funding support this idea, there are indeed many possibilities for initiatives such as the ones described above. 

Even during a pandemic, this kind of participatory planning works well. UN Habitat’s Block by Block project is experimenting with online multiplayer tools although challenges like video and audio quality as well as internet speed must be considered. Since many people are switching to working from home and investing in better internet speed, there is hope for better technological conditions enabling a fun, new way of planning.

In the end, it comes down to political will. As long as the actual planning results from a participatory process are implemented in practice, the tool is successful. Games are a great way of creating community and improving liveability, provided that they are not used as token participation. When people and communities are at the center of the participatory process, there is hope for co-created, liveable and fun cities for us all.

This article contains excerpts from two other articles by the author, published here:

https://parcitypatory.org/2020/07/26/cities-skylines/
https://www.urbanet.info/gamification-in-urban-planning-participation-through-minecraft/

Is Christmas the Jolly Season when it comes to Energy Consumption? 

Is Christmas the Jolly Season when it comes to Energy Consumption? 

Abstract

This brief article concentrates on Christmas’ energy consumption increase due to the use of decorations and specific appliances for the season. After a brief introduction on the impact on the CO2 levels of such increase, four tips on energy-efficient alternatives are provided. The proposed options span from considering to switch to less-consuming LED light bulbs up to more innovative solutions such as solar energy powered Christmas lights. The last section hence concentrates on the new emerging technologies developed to save energy during the Christmas holidays. These include flexible and adaptable solar panels for Christmas lighting and Smart Illumination Control systems which help to save energy by automatically turning on and off decorative lights. We conclude by underlining that Christmas should not be jolly only for us but also for the planet itself.

Introduction

Christmas is indeed the season to be jolly but not when it comes to energy consumption. As a matter of fact, Christmas holidays are characterized by a sharp rise of energy consumption which leads to higher emissions of CO2 (Balestreri, 2018). During Christmas time, energy consumption increases by 30% due to a major use of decorations and appliances (Ibid). To better understand the intensity of this phenomenon, let’s consider the fact that in the US, for example, Christmas decorations account for 6.63 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity consumption. With this in mind, consider that El Salvador’s annual electricity consumption accounts for 5.35 billion kilowatt-hours, Ethiopia’s one for 5.30 billion while Tanzania’s one for 4.81 billion (Moss & Agyapong, 2015).

Methodology

The research methodology approach of this article is based on the collection and analysis of papers, articles and data. Our aim is not to solve the problems related to the Christmas lights’ energy consumption, but rather to provide a report with information about the topic and data showing common trends across the world and to suggest effective solutions, which already exist, to mitigate the problem. Moreover, to give consistency to the study, we gather shared solutions between countries, thus combining both a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the problem.

Results                        

 During Christmas holidays, it is easy to forget about being energy-conscious as we light up our homes. However, according to our research, several useful tips can help us in saving energy consumption also during the holidays. Firstly, switching to LED lights leads to two main advantages: a 90% reduction in electricity compared to regular Christmas decorations and a duration set between 50.000 and 200.000 hours. Secondly, adopting a timer would allow programming when to switch the lights on and off avoiding energy waste. Furthermore, choosing fiber optic decorations can improve energy consumption rates. Indeed, this type of technology uses a single light source that flows through a fiber cable extending the light beam across the area covered by the cable, allowing much more efficiency and savings. Finally, the adoption of solar energy powered Christmas lights work with no need of a switch: they turn on when it gets dark, and stay on for 8-10 hours.

Discussion

Having seen the existing practical solutions to the problem, we also deem appropriate to analyze the underlying innovative and emerging technologies developed to save energy during the Christmas holidays. Solar-powered lighting systems utilize one or more solar energy gatherers to generate electricity that is then stored in a battery to power, for example, outdoor Christmas tree’s lights. This lighting system uses flexible solar panels, this means that they can assume various shapes, for example, the form of a star that can be placed at the top of a Christmas tree. On the other hand, Smart Illumination Control systems help to save energy by automatically turning on and off the Christmas lights. Blachere Illumination has integrated this system with its BIOPRINT, a LED illumination light made of completely recyclable biodegradable material, meaning that, when disposed, no unwelcomed carbon footprint is left behind.

Conclusion

This article began by showing the relevance of the issues related to the rise of energy consumption due to Christmas lights. Later on, tips on how to mitigate this issue have been provided, especially underlying the most innovative ones. Finally, in the discussion session, we went deeper into the functioning of the most innovative solutions. We believe that Christmas should be jolly not only for us but also for the planet itself.

This article has been written by the students of the Luiss new Msc in Law, Digital Innovation and Sustainability in the context of the class of Law and Policy of Innovation and Sustainability taught by Professor Christian Iaione. The cluster “Energy” is composed of the following students: Sofia Brunelli, Tommaso Dumontel, Josette Gonzales, Federica Muzi, and Riccardo Negrini.

Sources

G. Balestrieri, 2018, “Natale fa impennare i consumi elettrici, ma le luci a Led salvano l’ambiente”, Business insider italia

T. Moss & P. Agyapong, 2015, “US Christmas lights use more energy than entire countries”, Phys.org

Constellation, 2015“10 easy ways to save energy during the holidays”, Blog Constellation.com

X. Juan, L. Jin, D. Xiu-xiang, 2018, Design of LED energy-saving lights in holiday night landscape: a case study on Christmas night landscape in Jinan Parc 66, Shandong Jianzhu University.

N. L. Ballarini, R. J. Ballarini, 2007, Solar-powered lighting system, US Patent.

K. Hogan, Future Home Tech: 8 Energy-Saving Solutions on the Horizon, Energy.gov.

H. Cross, 2019, TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE TOWNS: ’GREEN’ CHRISTMAS LIGHT TECHNOLOGY UNVEILED, Scotland’s Town Partnership.

Live close to where you live

Live close to where you live

The project “Live close to home: a projection of a compact and responsive city for the central neighborhoods of the capital San José.” aims to propose a dense, compact, mixed city model that makes intelligent use and fair access to resources (soil, water, air) as a commons, to promote healthy, dignified lives for its inhabitants, and which reduces the impact of the effects of climate change. The project proposes to break with the city-countryside duality without falling into mistakes already made by other architects (eg, garden city) who proposed low densities and sectorization. It also meets the guidelines of the SDGs and the concept of the City as a Common Good.

The proposal was elaborated for the mega-block #11 in downtown San José, following these guidelines:
A. Use of rainwater (thinking about climate change, flood/drought scenarios)
B. Application of the concept of agroforestry (agricultural production in coexistence with forest for the livelihood of the neighborhood)
C. Traditional proximity commerce, together with spaces for new jobs (spaces for teleworking, in co-working that integrate nurseries, libraries, municipal entrepreneurship accelerators, etc.)    

This project participated in the international call for proposals of the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism 2021, entitled CROSSROADS Building the resilient city.

[Project Location: Between 20th ave. and the 14th ave. and 10th street and the 2nd street, in the southern area of the San José downtown, Costa Rica.]

Our goal for this year 2020 stage in the process of the Social Housing as a Commons project was to develop a strategy that could reevaluate landscape planning based on the redefinition of the parameters of urban life. This, proposing a more efficient and functional urban space, with reduced ground coverage, for the basic living and development spaces, which at the same time would represent a possible model to be developed in the future in other areas of the city that also suffered from inadequate planning, which manifests itself with phenomena of accelerated overcrowding and abandonment at the same time.

The compilation of information is an arrangement of parameters to analyze the economy, business, lifestyle, and overall usage of the common spaces. These parameters provide a broad look at the problems within community relations, which need to be countered against inadequate planning that does not address their needs.

The need for intervention in these spaces could also be addressed from the impact for its inhabitants, which would translate into the capacity of a new local economy based on a sustainable and empowered community, recognized for its sensitivity to the environment and a better sense of community experience.

Therefore, a strategy was proposed to intervene in a city area that suffers from inadequate planning caused by the accelerated overcrowding and abandonment in this specific area of San Jose, Costa Rica. This generally affects the population of the area, due to problems of access to affordable housing in their neighborhood and daily living in a highly polluted environment. Having an overcrowded population is a common problem in several cities. But the main issue is what this indicator of overpopulation does to a space that wasn’t ready in design for it. 

The first marker is the inadequate planning of these areas that are visible in the unplanned streets and roads and the progressive growth in the use of vehicles in the city. The collapse of the different routes is just a small component of the overall issue. The lack of confidence in public transport linked to a not deeply rooted culture of it clearly translates into an excess of gas emissions for the capital.

Another pattern is the presence of redundant and little varied commerce in an area where there is no economy based on strong local products and where more generally there is a lack of areas for socialization. We observe a forgotten place, where the general economic activities are the result of a community without real empowerment.

These two markers are the representation of a society in need of urban intervention to give these communities the necessary infrastructure to rehabilitate.

Dragging the problems of overgrowth, for a community that has been neglected by public policies, has caused a fracture of the urban system and, at the same time, the dissociation of the resident community. Because its local commerce is not varied enough, the economy in this area is static as well as its community that lacks social and cultural spaces to develop a well-built sense of community. The overall planning and infrastructure of this sector require a change to develop a strategy that gives this population affordable housing in a thriving environment. 

For the development of the proposal 3 mega blocks were chosen previously zoned where each of them has dynamics particular social networks that make them function as such. The choice of the blocks was made through an analysis to determine which were the areas with the greatest urban potential, diversify the uses for the development of different proposals that can have a positive impact on the site and be able to evolve the conceptual programming by means of a physical spatial design.

The design of an urban conception is part of a strategy that goes along with projections and indicators that parametrize the design to have a successful intervention in a long term. These strategies of intervention would give the right infrastructure to these communities, planned roads to give pedestrian mobility by proximity. The main modulation of the building spaces is fundamental through a multi-position floor array building, and by acknowledging the revalorization of cultivation spaces and the hydrology mechanisms that it needs to thrive in the city to form a dynamic society and a new local business income. The new infrastructure will be able to provide heterogeneity for the local commerce to have local and cultural products with a stronger sense of nationality that will propel the economy.

We look for a better way of living in the city and at the same time, we deal with the problems that modern life brought us. Concerned about traffic and pollution, we need to create a system to get closer to a real urban solution for a problem that concerns us today but is growing unsustainably day by day.

Regular communication with the community is an important need to have a broad vision of the problems of the context. For this project, we set out to know the customs of the neighbors with respect to their environment, the people who characterize the neighborhood, and the rhythm of daily activities was the key to a contextualized project.

The planet demands that we listen to it. For this, we also have to give a voice to the people who demand a better standard of living. The quality that architects, urban planners, and decision-makers can provide to the Social Housing and its immediate context is the basis for change.

CROSSROADS Building the Resilient City
CALL FOR PROPOSALS
SEOUL BIENNALE OF ARCHITECTURE AND URBANISM 2021
Upcycling of Wood Waste Promoting Life-Cycles of Products

Upcycling of Wood Waste Promoting Life-Cycles of Products

Abstract

“Our future success is directly proportional to our ability to understand, adapt and integrate new technology into our work” (Sukant Ratnakar, 2011). Understanding the possibilities that innovative systematic solutions can offer society is the first key element in the process of promoting a circular economy. Circularity is an essential part of a wider transformation of the industry towards climate-neutrality and long-term competitiveness. Executed effectively, it can deliver substantial material savings throughout value chains and production processes, generate extra value, and unlock economic opportunities in several fields (European Commission, 2020). In contrast to a linear economy, in circular processes, the value and life-cycle of products are maintained as long as possible to minimize actual waste.

The construction sectors produce the largest amount of special waste in Italy. According to the last ISPRA (Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale) report from 2018, construction special waste represents 42,5% (about 60,7 million tons) of the total amount accumulated in Italy in 2018. With Directive 98/2008/CE, the EU set a 70% target for recycling of construction. Quantities of wood waste in the Lombardy region reach nearly 1 million tons a year, adding up to 4,4 million tons of wood waste for Italy as a whole (BioReg, 2020). Given the long lifetime of construction and their impact on the environment, reusing these materials for new construction is vital to increase the life cycle of products, while decreasing material waste and saving raw materials. In the long run, this may contribute to rise self-sufficiency of selected raw materials used in production processes.

Circular building
source: https://urbact.eu/transition-circular-economy-%E2%80%98%E2%80%99power%E2%80%99%E2%80%99-building-sector-towards-better-cities

Secondary raw materials still account for a small proportion of the materials used in the EU, which means that significant economic opportunities get lost. This is partly caused by the uncertainty of buyers who might have doubts about the quality of recycled materials as a basis for their production purposes. In reality, the potential for innovative solutions to produce high-quality standard products is immense. Recycling of materials and products is a key element in the transition towards a circular economy. New initiatives and platforms aim to improve standards of circularity by making waste recycling a community effort to insert it back into the economic cycle, create further value, and extend the life-cycles of products.

To protect the environment, firms, industries, plants and other entities all over the world have been implementing several solutions towards a transition of a zero-emissions-society. From 2015 numerous actions were taken concerning the goal fixed by the UN under the ‘2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ (SDG). SDGs serve as blueprints to achieve a better and more sustainable future.17 goals, 169 targets, 1034 events, 1221 publications, 5285 actions are an essential history’s part to tackle climate change and preserve our oceans and forests.

Small steps can sometimes do a lot. Decreasing CO2 emissions and reducing the global world temperature has been on the EU agenda for the entire 21st century. Ensuring sustainable consumption and production pattern as stipulated through Goal #12 of the UN SDGs can be promoted by efficient upcycling methods of waste. Our economy uses raw materials, either extracted domestically or imported. In a circular economy, raw materials are from virgin or secondary sources, therefore, new models are needed to optimize waste management and extend the life cycles of products. Speaking in practical terms, it is essential to recover the odds of not yet recycled wood (58.8% in EU in 2017).

New and innovative solutions in this field have had a tremendous impact on the environment, communities, and cities. Therefore, we would like to emphasize that some of Europe’s most interesting approaches to recycling and waste management have inspired our initiative and served as important examples of best practices on upcycling.

Rilegno, was founded in 1997, could be striking examples of modern management systems, focused on separate collection of waste. Over the last 20 years, the company is the ground stone of a mechanism that allows them to monitor the life cycle of wooden products from their first harvesting, over first use production for packing usages such as wooden packaging, pallets, or loading units, until it’s upcycling to serve as a new product and extend the woods life cycle. In detail, the firm manages to do so, through its simple but very effective supply chain strategy. Involved in the process are different companies, platform, and communities that all contribute to achieving a circular economy system from wood deforestation, usage, collection of wood waste, upcycling and regeneration method until the Research Center if Wood Packaging and Logistics (CRIL) evaluates upon the quality of the wooden packaging.

Even younger knowledge-intensive realities take the field. Waste Hero, just like LabGov.City, emerged right at campus. One of the students at Aarhus University recognized the need for more efficient and sustainable waste collection management, which eventually led to the foundation of Waste Hero. The Danish technology-driven method focuses on waste management and collection in a global scope by eliminating unnecessary pickups and collections to save costs and simultaneously lowering pollution. The founder’s technology-driven business model and strong skills in engineering and machine learning led to a successful company that promotes sustainable and community-driven waste management currently established in 11 cities and constantly growing.

One more practice that is worth mentioning is ISVE S.r.l. Italy. It has experience in innovation technologies since its foundation in 1977 and made it to its mission to develop collaborative solutions to improve wood, waste and recycling strategies. They have successfully established a large portfolio of customers to whom they offer design, construction and marketing of plants in the wood recycling or treatment sector. ISVE makes machines that optimize recycling processes from small grinders up to all kinds of industrial waste. Their network allows integrating structural processes that entirely serve the purpose of promoting the quality of recycled materials and the environment.

Through initiatives and technologies like these, member states in Europe have managed to reduce the Carbon footprint of regions by influential numbers that contribute to the Unions 2030 goals. In addition, the UN Sustainable Development targets create a platform to further integrate new solutions and corporate within sectors. A multidisciplinary approach when tackling the pressing issue of climate change has become increasingly vital in Europe. These EU and UN initiatives, therefore, offer a perfect arena for companies, scientists and entrepreneurs to compete in the race to jointly fight for the necessary change in actions.

This article has been written by the students of the Luiss new Msc in Law, Digital Innovation and Sustainability in the context of the class of Law and Policy of Innovation and Sustainability taught by Professor Christian Iaione. The cluster “Industry and Manufacturing” is composed of the following students: Simone Galvagno, Valentina Defrate, Clara Wrede, Margherita Perrone, Selen Erkenci and Tommaso Desiderato.

References

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BioReg (2018). BioReg Project: Absorbing the Potential of Wood Waste in the EU Regions and Industrial Bio-based Ecosystems. Retrieved November 14, 2020 from http://bioreg.eu/.

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