Green Ports, Green Cities: can the port city be sustainable?

13.10.2021 – 09.30 – How can the development of a port affect a city? And how can a city, in turn, facilitate and enable a great port to thrive? And how can all this be adapted to meet the needs of environmental sustainability in an era of ecological change and the Green Deal? It was no coincidence that the third day of the Maritime Summit, which ran in parallel with the Barcolana and focused on the relationship between people and the sea, was entitled Green Ports, Green Cities.
Enrico Giovannini, Minister of Sustainable Infrastructures and Mobility, opened the event by congratulating Trieste on the Barcolana, which he described as a “unique event in the world”. Giovannini pointed out that it is rare to associate environmental awareness with infrastructure, but it is an effort that must be made, especially in relation to Italian ports. The ecological conversion planned by the ministry includes investments in the railways, whose plan has been judged by the European Union as “the most advanced and systematic”. In fact, Giovannini said, “we will connect 11 ports” and “9 intermodal transfer points”.

The goal, in short, is that “we must not leave the port only by road”. Specifically, we will invest in “the tunnels in the port of Gioia Tauro, which will prevent containers from being transferred to rail” and in general along the “Adriatic backbone”.
Furthermore, there will not only be funds from the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, but 15 billion from the Development and Cohesion Fund and another 80 billion from ordinary European funds.
Giovannini concluded by saying that “ports and cities are two sides of the same coin”; therefore, “we need to invest not only in mobility, but in all aspects”, because “cities cannot be separated from this great commitment”.

This was followed by a short speech by the CEO of Assicurazioni Generali, Gabriele Galateri di Genola, who highlighted the company’s centuries-old history in relation to the sea, as well as the “peaceful struggles for freedom and equality” of the Lion of Trieste.
In the ministerial context, it is also worth mentioning the speech of Vannia Gava, currently Secretary of State for Environmental Change, who described Italy as the “port dock of Europe” and affirmed that sustainability is “fundamental to the revitalization of the port economy”, especially through works such as “dredging, draining and restructuring of quays”. There is also a need to “correct strategic mistakes of the past” and overcome “excessive bureaucracy”. Decarbonisation remains a “firm goal”, although the whole transition process will be a “long and difficult process”. He concluded that “alone we move fast, but together we go far”.
The centrepiece of the first part of the maritime summit, dedicated to “Green Ports, Green Cities”, ended with a long technical speech by Laura D’Aprile, Head of Green Transition and Green Investment.

According to the engineer, “by 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities; 75% of natural resources will be consumed in cities; 50% of waste will be produced in cities; 50% of greenhouse gas emissions will come from cities.” Therefore, “circular cities are the target of the funding of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan”. Italy is in a “good position” thanks to its “presidency of the G20”, where it has achieved “an epoch-making result” of bringing “the issue of sustainable use of resources and the circular economy” to a “complex forum” that also includes agricultural and/or developing countries.

Italy is also on the way to reforming the funds of the National Recovery Plan, in which the ‘ecological transition is one of the main priorities’. Indeed, ‘3 billion euros have been allocated to the circular economy’. This is urgently needed because “there is a significant slowdown in industrial production, linked solely to the lack of raw materials”, especially “rare earths”. It will therefore be up to the circular economy to “replace primary value chains that are currently lacking”.
The blue economy will also play a role, because “Italy is the sea”; this will be “another engine of recovery for our country”.

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