Interview with Maria Grazia Pedrana, International affairs for environment and climate change at the Environment, Energy and Sustainable Development Department, Lombardy Region (Italy)
Maria Grazia Pedrana attended the 2017 General Assembly meeting and participated in the alongside Conference on Climate Adaptation “Islands: lands of innovative solutions for all territories”. In the framework of the mentioned events, nrg4SD had the opportunity to hold the following interview.
nrg4SD: Lombardy is a very industrialized region and many areas receive a significant number of tourists every year. This implies diverse and complex challenges to the environment conservation and specially, an important impact to climate change. The implementation of the Paris Agreement requires a common and collective effort of all regional governments over the world. What is Lombardy doing to pursue the implementation of the Paris Agreement?
MGP: Thank you so much for this question. We are really working hard to implement the Paris Agreement, especially in the field of energy efficiency. We are working on promoting measures and giving funds for the renovation of buildings, especially public buildings. We have a huge public heritage and a lot of buildings that need to be renovated because they are, at the moment, really inefficient in terms of energy consumption. We also have a lot of municipalities and local authorities really engaged in doing so. I think we can succeed in the coming years to deeply renovate our buildings in the region. We are also promoting the use and the production of renewable energy in the whole region, mainly from resources like water for hydroelectric power, and also from geothermic and photovoltaic resources. We have a lot of opportunities to be implemented in the region. Also, we are working on energy efficiency for public lighting and supporting municipalities in the change of their lightbulbs and the system of public lighting. We are also working a lot on sustainable mobility to get a number of municipalities in the region. We are trying to develop a large and wide re-charge network system for electric vehicles and, at a local level, we have a lot of local initiatives for different kind of mobility initiatives such as car-sharing, electric bicycles… There are really a lot of initiatives from associations of citizens, so I think that we are on the right track to change our mobility system for the future.
nrg4SD: This week we gathered in the beautiful Reunion Island for the International Conference on Climate Adaptation “Islands, lands of innovation and solutions for all territories”. What are the main challenges for the government of Lombardy when it comes to climate adaptation and resilience?
MGP: This is an important challenge at the moment, both in Lombardy and all over the world, as we can see here in La Reunion. We have a new plan for adaptation to climate change with a lot of measures that will be implemented in the coming 10 years. This is a long-term vision because adaptation to climate change is a process. We really have to implement a lot of policies in very different sectors and we need to involve a lot of stakeholders. First of all, we are working on water management, specially in urban areas to have a better urban drainage of the water and to reduce the risks of floods. We are also working on our capability to reduce the use of water, especially fresh water, and to improve the re-use of water waste for example, after the treatment. You know that in Lombardy we have very different environments. We have mountains as the Alps, but also rivers, lakes.… Therefore we need different measures to adapt to climate change in these different areas. In the mountains, we are facing problems in our big glaciers. They are going to disappear and I think that we should try to implement policies to make also tourism more sustainable in the mountain areas even if we probably won’t be able to stop the increase of temperatures. The impact in this fragile environment will be really hard to manage. In any case, we are working a lot both with local authorities and people, trying to change our management of these areas. I hope that we will also involve all the business sector helping us in this process. Another important sector that faces the problem of climate change is agriculture. Our region is industrialized but, at the same time, we are the first agricultural region in Italy. We have a very strong agrofood industry and food production and climate change is affecting it in different ways. We are working a lot in a more efficient use of resources such as water and soil. Specially for water, we would like to reduce the amount of water used for the cultivation of rice and also to be able to re-use the water. We also need to reduce the impacts of zoo techniques. In Lombardy we have a lot of pigs and cattle and this can cause a lot of environmental impacts. We are trying to develop sustainable development in the agricultural sector, which is really innovative in Lombardy. We have a lot of investments in sustainability so I am sure that we will provide new solutions in the future.
nrg4SD: Lombardy is an active founding member of nrg4SD’s Regions for Biodiversity Learning Platform. How do you believe that the initiative helps to improve biodiversity conservation in the region and how is Lombardy committed to the achievement of the Aichi targets?
MGP: Biodiversity is one of our main concerns in the environmental sector. We are working together with several partners, not only at the local level with the parks, municipalities, provinces and local associations; but also at the European and the international level. The platform you mentioned is one of the projects we love the most. I think that this kind of opportunity to share knowledge and information, good practices and sometimes, even bad practices, is really important to improve, to learn and to communicate our efforts and to involve people in this difficult process for the protection of biodiversity and for the valorization of nature in our regions. At the moment, we are leading a very big project founded by the European Union under the “LIFE” program. It is called “Gestire 2020”, which means “to manage” in Italian. We are really trying to change our governance and the management of protected areas in Lombardy by improving the capabilities of our local stakeholders to protect nature, to promote and provide ecosystem services, to fight against alien species, or to find new solutions to maintain economic activities. We would like to have a living territory, so protection is intended in a wide sense. For sure, our first goal is to protect nature and to preserve it, but we would also like to improve the capabilities of humans to have a good relationship with nature.