Green Deal: will it be a sustainable transition?

From November 4th to 6th, 2022 a conference took place entitled "Green Deal: will it be a sustainable transition?" organised by UNAIE (Unione Nazionale delle Associazioni degli Immigrati ed Emigrati), in cooperation with EZA and financed by the European Union.

More than 80 representatives of workers' organisations from Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Spain and Ukraine took part in the conference.

The conference started with a welcome from officials such as Piergiorgio Sciacqua (EZA), Armando Maistri (President of Trentini nel Mondo), Rafael Rodriguez Ponga (PICM President), Denis Paoli (Provincial Council), Alex Marini (Provincial Council), Francesco Bocchetti (Director of the Trentini World Federation) and a written greeting from Oscar De Bona (UNIE President). The conference opened with observations on the climatic situation and the centrality of man in political and economic decisions, with reference to the values of Alcide Degasperi, an important figure from Trentino.

The conference was divided into four sessions

1. Introduction to Climate Change and the Green Deal (Friday 4th November afternoon)

2. Towards a Social Green Deal (Saturday morning 5th November)

3. Education for Sustainability (Afternoon Saturday 5th November)

4. Energy Transition Policy (Sunday Morning, November 6th)

At the end of each report, the audience was able to reflect and ask questions, and we would like to emphasise that the theme proposed this year has generated great interest. A link was provided to participants through which all submitted contributions could be accessed.

First Session

The first part of the seminar was designed to give participants a general overview of the climate change challenge and the importance of the Green Deal at the European level.

The seminar was opened by Rudi Bressa (environmental journalist), who oversaw presenting the topic of climate change as a global challenge.

Then Agostino Cavazza (Director of the Edmund Mach Foundation) spoke about the role of water as a precious and irreplaceable commodity, especially for agriculture. He also listed the various solutions that have recently been introduced to protect plants and crops through digitisation. The third speaker of the afternoon was Blal Adem Esmail (Researcher Geographical Institute Bochum), whose research focus is on Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) that can help implement the European Green Deal. They are based on natural ecosystems, require good planning and are in the service of sustainability. In large cities, which have a negative impact on the environment, NBS can be used, which gives good results.

Gabriele Mylonas (unionist UIL FENEAL) closed the session and spoke about the role that the construction sector can play in the Green Deal, implementing the so-called Green Building with the construction of sustainable buildings and the reuse of existing buildings through the training of workers.

CONCLUSIONS FROM THE FIRST SESSION. It was stressed that the Green Deal is one of the solutions to counteract the negative effects of climate change and that Europe needs to know how to engage with local groups to implement the right actions. Particular attention must be paid to the pillars of this change: growth, inclusion, and sustainability, especially in the urban habitat essential for human life, the centre for social interaction, knowledge and innovation are of particular importance.

Second Session

The morning was dedicated to the core topic of the seminar: There is no Green Deal without a Social Deal. Edith Pichler (Professor at the University of Potsdam) underlined how often green solutions for the environment and the economy are used to the detriment of workers. If not managed well, the Green Deal could emphasise social differences and accuse the poorest of being insensitive to environmental issues.

Lisa Casali (biologist and environmental commentator) underlined that companies must feel responsible for the pollution they cause, even though they often lack insurance to cover environmental damage.

This was followed by a speech by Giulio Galdi (researcher from the University of Trento) who, through case studies and statistics, explained the dynamics of the purchase and use of gas and electricity, proposing some solutions to the scarcity and high cost of these materials. Sabrina Iannazzone (EAPN Policy Officer) addressed the problem of energy poverty and poverty in Europe which could worsen if the policy does not address the problem.

Closing the session, Tommaso Demozzi (IUCN Junior Policy Assistant) intervened and stated that by 2050 about 90% of land will be degraded if no action is taken now. This number is alarming considering that 95% of our food comes from the soil.

CONCLUSIONS OF THE SECOND SESSION. The whole value chain of a product or service must be evaluated in the reorganisation and the workers are a part of it. The reallocation of human resources should not be taken for granted. Social justice should focus on distributing resources fairly, because protecting nature is a matter of smart business.

aThird Session

The third session on Saturday afternoon was dedicated to environmental education for the younger sections of the population. Unfortunately, the programme presentation by Annika Breuer (Machs Possibly) is cancelled. Then Gustavo Briz (Representative of Rede Inducar) took the floor and presented the various projects of his association in Portugal and a concrete example of a participating community in the rehabilitation and conservation of the Douro River ecosystem. Then, Jose Garcia (Professor at the Istituto Mare Nostrum) and Lia Di Menco (Professor at the Istituto Superiore Tomaso Catullo) spoke and illustrated the process that young people are exposed to through collaboration between schools in different countries of Europe. Young people were involved in the implementation of sustainable architecture projects. They also had the opportunity to share good environmental sustainability practices.

CONCLUSIONS OF THE THIRD SESSION. The youngest are the key to change and the new generations are often the most sensitive to the issue. Comparing different cultures is enriching, everyone can learn the best from the others.

Fourth Session

The fourth and final session took place on Sunday morning and focused on the energy transition. The first speaker to intervene was Jean-Luc Di Paola Galloni (Vice President of Valeo), who introduced the topic of electromobility, highlighting the main positive aspects and the impact on the environment. He then underlined the importance of recycling raw materials, especially those present in small quantities (e.g. lithium, chips). Unfortunately, the second speaker Luca Urpi (geoscientist at the CDS in Zurich) could not be present. Alessandro Mini (Professor at the Abat Oliba University in Barcelona) then took the floor, highlighting the impact on the population that has been taken at the environmental level and stressing the need for universal jurisdiction on the matter.

Vittorino Rodaro (UNAIE – Vice-President of Trentini nel Mondo) presented the conclusions, analyses and ideas to the whole assembly, stressing the need for particular urgency resulting from the three days of the conference. In his speech he stated that cooperation between countries, especially at European level, would be desirable with a view to common goals.

CONCLUSIONS OF THE FOURTH SESSION. In this historic time, it is necessary to implement a climate democracy in which everyone must feel confronted with a question. We must put pressure on the politicians who represent us, because they are the ones who make the decisions.

At the end of the conference, several conclusions emerged. Energy consumption is to be drastically reduced, but the discussion often revolves around how to increase energy production while demand is increasing. What is certain is that EU sacrifices will be varied, but they will also vary greatly depending on the part of the world we live in. It is essential that the EU demands a regulation that takes into account the rights of the individual, especially the weakest groups. And we are not only talking about farmers, but also about all those service sectors that work in less innovative sectors (cleaning, housekeeping, etc.). It has been found that companies are often unaware of the consequences of their actions, leading to real dangers that the entire community must pay for. Instead, the rule "whoever does not comply pays" should apply. It is important to have a common and general idea of the goals to be achieved, without ever leaving out a single person. We won't get any further with the logic of defending our interests.

Both in the province of Trento and across Europe, the participants of the conference can bring the proposals and problems to the attention of the politicians and organisations working for the municipalities. Each of the participants can contribute to the social dialogue.