Garfagnana, a Mediterranean hub for rural innovation

Garfagnana, a Mediterranean hub for rural innovation

Urban growth, temperature rise and melting glaciers threaten river deltas around the world. Southeast Asia – from India to China – in particular will be severely affected. Large numbers of people live in poverty, countries are densely-populated and coastlines are long. According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the chance that people in this region will be affected by water-related disasters is about 25 times greater than in Europe. How are people tackling water challenges in Asia?

Writer: Marcello Cappellazzi

Fall 2014
Feature by REVOLVE

Water
This article is featured in REVOLVE #13 on pages 52-57.

The Garfagnana area, nestled between the Alps and the Apennines, offers a radically different image from the traditional Tuscan landscapes. Facing both a looming economic crisis and an aging population, the typical production systems are about to become history. Valuable resources are left unused, though their potential could become a new expression of innovation in rural areas otherwise doomed to decline.

Italy is famous for the tradition of high quality food but the production systems that struggle to survive are less spoken of. An exampleis the region of Tuscany where modern agricultural development relates to just asection of its territory. Far from the rural idyll associated with the Tuscany brand, mountain

areas such as the Garfagnana are striving to restore an active economic life to ensure the sustainability of business and the integrity of the land. There are still many attempts to recover the potential of Garfagnana andboth local authorities and European onesare cooperating to prevent the region from

losing its territorial resources further. Due to the inclusion of private businesses and local communities, the region has become a hub for political experimentation and technical innovation that serve as an example for the Mediterranean region.

Water: a second life for economic activities

Valuing local resources is often understood as preserving territory-specific characteristics that are unique and irreplaceable. However, from a sustainability perspective, it is impor- tant for food production systems to protect territory specific resources while reducing the dependence on external ones. Water manage- ment and use demonstrates the activities that make Tuscany a hub of innovation for rural development. In fact, the region’s economy comprises a number of activities that often imply a trade-off between profit-making and sustainable use of resources. There are sev- eral examples of industrial districts that have an extremely high economic potential but also have a detrimental impact on the quality of water available for food production.

Above: In Tuscany, water is not a scarce resource but its management and valuation are fundamental for preserving a fragile territory

Localities specialized in leather or fabric pro- duction that have a high reputation in terms of the quality of the final product offered to the consumers often release waste water contam- inated with chemicals and hazardous material

back in the environment. Tuscany is setting an example for the whole Mediterranean region by testing innovative technologies for waste water treatment and industrial water reuse. Industries are committed to the adaptation of their production lines with the objective of reducing the negative environmental impact, especially on water resources.

Revolve #13 – Fall 2014