In an increasingly polluted world the local communities bring with them a huge, but unfortunately often neglected, potential for the development of social innovation initiatives aimed at a radical change in favor of renewable energy.
The seminar “Local Communities and Social Innovation for the Energy Transition” to be held at JRC Ispra Site (Ispra, Varese, Italy) on 22 and 23 November 2018 aims to study this potential and research recommendations aimed at obtaining a better exploitation of energy resources.
Furthermore, existing obstacles and conditions that favor or undermine the potential of local communities in the development of remedies of this kind will be discussed, as well as new models of innovation governance useful for the growth, consolidation and dissemination of social innovation initiatives in local communities.
We will also discuss the characteristics that allow local energy communities to be recognized in the panorama of EU regulations and how they can be disseminated through European policy. Some of the main existing examples of initiatives of local energy communities developed in the EU will be discussed below.
Finally, particular attention will be given to the important role that can be played by municipalities, both as local energy communities, as facilitators and as promoters of social innovation initiatives.
At the seminar will be present: Nicola Labanca (JRC Energy Efficiency and Renewables Unit), Sabine Hielscher (University of Sussex – UK), Josh Roberts (RESCoop.eu, Belgium), Paolo Bertoldi (JRC Energy Efficiency and Renewables Unit), Christian Iaione (LUISS Guido Carli University, IT), David Hammerstein (Commons Network), Fritz Reusswig (Potsdman Institute for Climate Impact Research, DE), : Daniele Paci (JRC Energy Efficiency and Renewables Unit), Jan Steinkohl (European Commission, DG ENER, Brussels), Dirk Hendricks (European Renewable Energy Federation, Brussels), Nikolaos Hatziargyriou (National Technical University of Athens, EL), Fabio Monforti (JRC Air and Climate Unit), Anna Mengolini (Energy Security, Distribution and Markets Unit, Joint Research Centre), Sarah Rieseberg (Arepo Consult, DE), Chiara Candelise (IEFE Bocconi University, IT), Gianluca Ruggieri (Insubria University, IT), Dick Magnusson (Linköping University, SE), Verhoeven Sofie (Ghent Municipality, BE), Lourdes Berdié (Network for Energy Sovereignty – Barcelona).
Professor Iaione, co-founder of LabGov, will present in the second discussion panel “Governance and Local Communities’ Social Innovation: which governance
approaches are needed to stimulate this innovation?” on the “Pooling Economy, Tech Justice and Urban Experimentalism for a Human Rights-based Approach to the Sharing Economy”.
When it comes to discussing the role of civil society in water management, the experience of the Italian “consorzi” (consortia) is worth of attention. Similar examples, representing the material implementation of the horizontal subsidiarity, result in being particularly successful in cases of small communities with a high degree of social cohesion. However, its applicability in medium to large contexts becomes more problematic because, as “The Tragedy of the Commons” theory reminds, a shared power of a large group on water is likely to generate an uncontrolled exploitation of the resource. As a matter of fact, the wider becomes the community of reference, the least the inhabitants feel themselves bound by the limits necessary for a proper common governance of the resource and the more they are tempted to waste it. This risk makes often preferable solutions like the exclusive control of the State on water or privatization of the water system.
In this contribution, the “consortium approach” to water management is presented as a successful experience in the Italian scenario. The consortium model consists of the entrustment of the service to cooperatives where users directly participate. Although this approach has been limitedly adopted in Italy, it is growing in other European countries. Efficient examples can be found in Holland – the Waterschapenn – and in Wales – for example, Welsh Water.
These solutions share the feature to be an alternative to the direct assumption of the water service’s responsibility by the State. The key advantage here identified is that the service is directly supervised by the citizens, which are incentivized to participate in water management.
For the Italian case, a relevant example is represented by the Consorzi di Bonifica and the Consorzi di sviluppo industriale. The first entities mainly operate in the agricultural sector, although there are hypothesis in which they have also the task to manage public services and to take care of water supply infrastructures. The second bodies are located in industrial areas and manage not only the industrial infrastructures, but also water treatment plants, acting in synergy with the authorities entrusted with the water service.
Specifically, it is noteworthy the experience of the small-sized municipalities in the northern part of Italy, where a solution neither private, nor public, but common has been adopted for water management. For example, in the Oltrepò Pavese, the 24 hamlets of Varzi have joined their efforts to govern the water service through a communitarian approach. A similar solution has been chosen by the communities of Mezzana Montaldo in the Alto Biellese and of Cerveno in the Alta Val Camonica. Furthermore, the experience of the Consorzio acque delta ferrarese (now transformed in a stock company under the name of C.A.D.F. Spa) is particularly timely as it represents an example of water management in common through a consortium created in reaction and opposition to the HERA model, the PPP dominant in the area.
These consortia fight to defend their autonomy; they are reluctant to give away their know-how and resources to the private market and resist to the pressure of political interests. Indeed, these consortia have to resist the centripetal pressure of the State which, for economic and logistical reasons, tend to consolidate them in a few ATOs (Ambiti Territoriali Ottimali), which arguably is the first step which will lead to the conferral of the ATO to private operators.
It could be affirmed that there are certain similarities between this communitarian approach and the approach adopted by the medieval municipalities in which the public goods, like the woods, the fields, the springs etc. were managed in common. This ancient solution might result in being an efficient alternative in a moment of public utilities’ crisis. An antique practice can be the answer to modern difficulties of the actual society.
Moreover, the consortium approach represents the fulfillment of Article 43 of the Italian Constitution which states that essential public services can be conferred to workers or users communities (the case here analyzed) in order to better represent the general interest. Nevertheless, numerous challenges hinder this approach, for example the scarcity of financial resources that make for the consortia hard to cover the service’s expenses.
In conclusion, it can be argued that these alternative solutions demonstrate that – in certain instances – a communitarian management of the water resource could be more efficient than a rigid assignment of property rights to private operators or to the State. Nevertheless, the outcome of the “in common solution” depends on the awareness of the relative community, on its willingness to participate, and on its capacity to respect common rules.
 Interview with Andrei Jouravlev at the Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe – CEPAL.
 Hardin, G.. 1968. The Tragedy of the Commons. Science, New Series, Vol. 162, No. 3859, pp. 1243-1248. Available at http://www.geo.mtu.edu/~asmayer/rural_sustain/governance/Hardin%201968.pdf.
 Segerfeldt, F. 2011. Acqua in vendita? (2003), trad.it. Torino: IBL, p.52.
 Santi, F. 2011. Amministrazione e controlli. Società di persone. Imprese gestite da enti collettivi. Consorzi. Gruppi europei di interesse economico. Imprese Famigliari, Associazioni in partecipazione. Padova: Cedam.
 Massarutto, A. 2011. Privati dell’Acqua? Bologna: Il Mulino, p.115.
 Ambiti Territoriali Ottimali are territorial subdivisions for water management and were created by the Law “Galli” of 1994. Legge 5 gennaio 1994 n.36, G.U. n.14 del 19-1-1994.
Il presente articolo illustra l’esperienza dei consorzi italiani per la gestione del sistema idrico. La relazione di proporzionalità inversa tra la dimensione della comunità di riferimento e il grado di riuscita della gestione in comune della risorsa idrica viene discussa. Alcuni esempi in Europa ed in Italia di consorzi di gestione in comune dell’acqua vengono presentati. Segue una riflessione sulle sfide che il mercato e gli interessi politici presentano all’approccio comunitario. In conclusione, si auspica l’adozione e la preservazione di tale approccio, tuttavia tenendo presente il necessario sussistere di alcune condizioni, come per esempio la capacità della collettività di auto-porsi limiti e regole.
The second day of co-working session, held on October the 15th begun with Eloisa Susanna’s general outlook about other active projects, similar to #coRome, spread all over Italy.Eloisa,a young architect,rapidly commemorated the G124 project,launched by Renzo Piano in which great relevance is given to peripheral areas and the imperative need of maintenance trough micro-surgical interventions,this is what the Otranto project of 1979 was about.In general,this procedure implies two fundamental principles:first of all it has to be interest-based,secondly it has to be performed through a collaborative process that consist in framing and contextualizing the city of Rome and its surrounding territory,focusing on those areas that constitute a patrimonial identity.
Than,Claudio Gnessi explained the explosive role of the Ecomuseo Casino Ad Duas Lauros (www.ecomuseocasilino.it). This institution owns much to the “comunità di eredità” which actively engaged in several partecipative laboratories,with the common goal to define the space in which cultural and natural sites have previously been identified.The actual plan is focused in Tor Pignattara,a neighborhood where around 130 cultural resources were mapped,thanks to the fruitful work of a social network composed by inhabitants of that neighborhood but also public and private actors.It is important to underline the social consequence brought by this initiative:cooperation was promoted among different religious and cultural realities,unified by a shared interest and motivated by common moral values.
Right after the Labgovers productively engaged in a workshop that consisted in reporting on a widespread map four different topic developed with the aid of expert mentors and of Alessandra and Urio, the co-founders of the newborn Community for the Public Park of Centocelle.The participants were divided into four groups,namely:Mobility, Accessibility, Potentialities and Public Services.
The first group,”mobility”,identified which public transport are easily available both from the center and the outskirt of Rome:the main one are the “trenino laziale” and the tram “19”.Than the participants focused over the potentialities that the park could offer if,in one hand,the pedestrian accessibility was open on both sides of the park’s perimeter and,on the other side,the bicycle route,know as GRAB, could pass trough the park instead of in its proximity.
The second group,”accessibility”,listed more accurately all the potential resources that the park could make available.Surprisingly the V Municipal seems to be blessed by so many cultural sites that could re-animate the entire area from a touristic perspective,but also for the sole purpose of embellish the neighborhood.
A third group ,”potentialities”,brought to light many critical matters such as security and sanitary issues,in fact the park has several abusive occupied zone,not omitting the wasted paper and rubbish that pollutes the park everywhere.
The fourth group;”public services”,classified and mapped all the accessible public services around the PaC zone,such as churches, schools,parks,cultural attractions,theaters and cinemas.-
As it emerges from the images,the V Municipality has extraordinary potentialities,however,due to its marginalized position,its shabby’s first appearance,and the elevate conglomeration of immigrants and religious identities, its efficiency is completely unexploited and its integrity is gradually decreasing and deteriorating running the risk to fall in the oblivion.
The meeting ended up with Stefania Favorito’s speech over the importance of the park from an archaeological point of view,the park is surrounded by historical sites such as the Villa Ad Duas Lauros,il Forte Casino,la Villa della Piscina,la Vecchio Osteria,all dated back from the republican era until the XIX century,plus the natural resources of l’Agro Romano,il Canneto,l’Agri-Fauna and the whole park of Centocelle.It is important to be mature the awareness to understand what this park does symbolize for the cohabitants of the V Municipality, how this zone reflects their feeling of social marginalization and how this project give them the possibility to join a community in which moral and civic values are promoted and cooperation constantly active.( http://parcocentostelle.net )
On October the 14th, LabGov started the first co-working session in which Paola Santoro, an expert designer, exposed the “hero’s journey” having as protagonists Alessandra and Urio: the spokespersons of the raising Community of the Public Park of Centocelle. This is the #Co-Rome project (www.co-roma.it): an audacious initiative in which achievements and failures characterized the essence of the challenge.
The core topic of the meeting was to understand,also through creative games, what is “la facilitazione dei beni comuni”, more specifically how LabGov assisted the community as mentors, not imposing themselves as superior entities capable of solving problems, rather as an enterprising group that can offer them all the means to improve the environmental situation of a public park, with the common goal to fill-in the gap between the community’s unsatisfied social reality and the dreamed one. This “green” forgotten area, that at a first glance might appear as common as any other park in Rome, deep inside has embedded all the shared values that gradually arose once that a touch-point between the park’s users and the object used was fixed.
“La collaborazione civica per l’amministrazione, la governance e l’economia dei beni comuni” is an article written by LabGov coordinator, prof. Christian Iaione, and first published in L’Italia della Condivisione in 2015.
“In Italia i beni comuni sono ormai entrati nel lessico comune. La consapevolezza che gli italiani hanno maturato circa la rilevanza che rivestono e le criticità che presentano beni essenziali alla coesione sociale, tanto quanto allo sviluppo economico, è testimoniata dall’afflato partecipativo che ha caratterizzato i referendum del giugno 2011 su quelli che mediaticamente sono passati alla storia come i referendum per i “beni comuni”. Nella narrazione collettiva i beni comuni sono stati identificati nell’acqua, nell’ambiente e nella legalità. In realtà si trattava di quesiti referendari attinenti a “questioni domestiche” che non prendevano a riferimento la nozione scientifica invalsa a livello internazionale di “beni comuni” o “commons”. In molti hanno provato e provano a utilizzare ideologicamente questo concetto, producendo più danno che beneficio a chi cerca di studiare con metodo scientifico i beni comuni e forgiare gli strumenti tecnici necessari per fare dei beni comuni la base di ripensamento delle istituzioni sociali, economiche, politiche e amministrative. Ad ogni modo questa sensibilità generale verso i beni comuni non deve andare sprecata e per fare ciò occorre fermarsi a riflettere sulle forme e le condizioni di gestione, cura e tutela dei beni comuni. Il rischio è che l’espressione “beni comuni” divenga un’espressione di senso comune, ma priva di effettivo valore semantico e, soprattutto, di rigore scientifico, casella vuota che chiunque si sente legittimato a riempire con qualunque significato, vessillo ideologico inalberato da movimenti o manifesti più o meno condivisibili. Ma da dove si deve partire per gettare le fondamenta di una rigorosa e solida teoria scientifica dei beni comuni? Senza dubbio il primo problema da affrontare è quello definitorio. Quali sono i beni comuni? Quanti sono i beni comuni? Sul punto, in Italia si è sviluppata un’ampia e approfondita riflessione dogmatica su cosa debba ricomprendersi all’interno dell’orizzonte dei beni comuni volte a una ricostruzione giuridica del fenomeno dal punto di vista teorico o applicativo. Per costruire un solido paradigma teorico poggiante sulle fondamenta dei beni comuni occorre dotarsi anche di una nuova chiave di lettura del modello sociale ed economico oggi dominante e di infrastrutture giuridiche e amministrative a supporto di questo diverso metodo. In definitiva, lo studio dei beni comuni come categoria scientifica rappresenta una sfida intellettuale che richiede un metodo interdisciplinare, che deve per forza di cose partire dai risultati degli studi di Elinor Ostrom (insignita del Premio Nobel per l’economia nel 2009) e dei suoi allievi, senza però rinchiudersi in questo o quel recinto culturale o scientifico. Solo un simile sforzo intellettuale potrà candidarsi a fondare su basi solide e verificate dal punto di vista economico, giuridico e istituzionale, un nuovo paradigma, e quindi una società più giusta.”
If you are interested in this subject, please explore the full paper here.