Sustainable land use is closely linked to sustainable choices in development, planning and design. In this sense, sustainability is also to be understood as an approach to integrated regeneration in which the environmental component goes hand in hand with the social one.

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Sustainable land use is closely linked to sustainable development, planning and design choices. In this sense, sustainability is also to be understood as an approach to integrated regeneration in which the environmental component goes hand in hand with the social one.

For the environment of Partner countries to be protected, the territory must be rethought and regenerated as a whole. Through the use of appropriate planning tools, green areas can be enhanced, built-up areas can be made “greener” and more energy-sustainable, mobility can be rethought in a sustainable manner, agricultural areas can be improved and production and building processes (agricultural, construction and others) can be made more sustainable. Furthermore, in order to reduce their impact and emissions, infrastructure and, in an even broader sense, housing developments must be rethought as ‘bio-spaces’, i.e. spaces capable of integrating green areas, renewable energy, local materials and circular economy practices.

Sustainable land management is therefore integrated and complex. Only by deepening the knowledge of the territory is it possible to plan initiatives regarding the reduction of risks caused by environmental and climatic disasters such as earthquakes, hydrogeological instability, coastal erosion and desertification. Reducing environmental impact and risks and safeguarding the territory (understood as a blend of natural and cultural heritage) contribute, in turn, to safeguarding biodiversity.

The urban challenge

The global demographic and climate challenge brings cities back to the centre of the international debate.

Cities already are home to more than 54% of the world’s population and produce more than 80% of the world’s GDP and are responsible for 2/3 of global energy consumption and more than 70% of global emissions. If demographic trends do not change, the world’s urban population will reach 60.4% in 2030 and 96% of this increase will occur in the less developed regions of Africa and Asia. The impact of cities on poverty and climate change is therefore the challenge of the present.

One of the greatest global challenges of the future, therefore, is the urban challenge, which is attracting increasing international attention and resources. The theme of EXPO 2030 “People and Territories, Urban Regeneration, Inclusion and Innovation”, for example, places the emphasis on cities, as does the recent debate in the G20 2021, under the Italian Presidency, which has also triggered in AICS a phase of study and research on sustainable urban development of cities. The focus on the application of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals at the local level was particularly on ‘secondary’ cities and the creation of a platform for sharing good practices in this area. The sustainable management of urban environments and their growth plays a significant role in the fight against poverty and climate change, so urbanisation has become a central focus of the Sustainable Development Agenda and many global development programmes and actions are being concentrated on cities.

The true sustainable development challenge for the future is therefore the urban one, and cities are at the centre of the global fight against climate change for greenhouse gas emission reduction and green finance. The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030), adopted by the UN Member States in 2015 during the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, and the New Urban Agenda (NUA), adopted at the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), in Quito, Ecuador in 2016, also point in the same direction.

In the field of development cooperation, within the broad spectrum of projects in the urban sphere, Italian Cooperation pays special attention to the slums, i.e. urban slums, severely degraded areas on the fringes of urban centres where the most vulnerable population groups, most in need of aid, end up. In the urban sector, Italian Cooperation has implemented numerous initiatives over the years aimed at fostering sustainable development through the integrated regeneration of urban areas, including the construction of housing, the provision of social services and infrastructure, the creation of job opportunities, the promotion of social projects, the preservation of cultural heritage and the protection of ecosystems. Special focus is being placed on the development of so-called ‘secondary’ cities.

Secondary Cities

The term secondary cities commonly refers to cities at the second or third level of a hierarchical system of cities defined on the basis of population, on a national scale, in which the primary cities, metropolises or megacities, almost always coincide with the political or economic capital cities.

Secondary cities can vary in size depending on the contexts. In Ethiopia, they do not exceed two hundred thousand inhabitants, , while in India or China they can reach several million. In fact, the role of these cities is not based on the absolute size of the population that inhabits them, but on the relationships of dependence or reciprocity that they establish with other territorial cores.

Especially problematic is the growing territorial imbalance, created in many contexts by rapid urbanization, between a few extremely overcrowded cities, usually the capital cities of poorer countries in particular, and the rest of the territory. Often smaller towns and rural areas are completely disconnected from the main cities and lack adequate road infrastructure and services. This large gap results in incredible pressure on the main cities and undermines the environmental, social, food and health security of their inhabitants due to urban management difficulties. In major cities, the large size and an excessively high population density lead to the indiscriminate use of land and resources, congested mobility, spatial segregation and increasing social inequalities.

With the intention of lightening the weight of the main cities (usually capital cities), Italian Cooperation is oriented towards the strengthening of the so-called “secondary” cities that, due to their smaller size, lend themselves to accommodating urban, social, environmental and economic dynamics in a more balanced manner while also guaranteeing a more integrated relationship with the countryside and food production systems. Italy has a centuries-old tradition of secondary cities, which constitute a solid territorial network and can constitute examples of good governance for the Partner States through a constructive transfer of the multiple knowledge and skills of the public and private sectors. In line with the strategic and guiding lines of Italian Cooperation, the Agency is therefore working to increase the urban development projects of “secondary cities” in the Partner States and to define new sector-related methodologies.


Main international environment-related conventions with impact on territory

The Montreal Protocol is the operational instrument of UNEP, the United Nations Environment Programme, for the implementation of the Vienna Convention ‘for the protection of the stratospheric ozone layer’. Entered into force in January 1989, to date it has been ratified by 197 countries including Italy (December 1988).

The Protocol sets deadlines by which the signatory Parties undertake to curb production and consumption levels of substances harmful to the stratospheric ozone layer (halons, carbon tetrachloride, chlorofluorocarbons, hydrochlorofluorocarbons, trichloroethane, methyl chloroform, methyl bromide, bromochloromethane). The Protocol also regulates trade, reporting of monitoring data, research  activities , information exchange and technical assistance to developing countries.?

In 1990, the Montreal Protocol established the Multilateral  Ozone Fund РOzone to help assist developing  Partner countries achieve their compliance commitments with respect to the elimination of production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances. The Fund finances investment projects, technical assistance, training, capacity building, technology transfer and industrial reconversion.

On 15 October 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda, at the 28th Meeting of the Parties, the 197 countries, Parties to the Protocol, approved an amendment to phase out the production and use of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HFCs). The use of HFC gases had been introduced, following the adoption of the Montreal Protocol in 1987, to replace chlorofluorocarbons, which were mainly responsible for the destruction of the ozone layer. Subsequently, Howeverhowever, it was later found that HFCs, although not ozone-depleting substances, are powerful greenhouse gases that can have an impact on climate change thousands of times greater than carbon dioxide. Through the Kigali Amendment, Parties have committed to reduce the production and consumption of HFCs by more than 80% over the next 30 years. This reduction programme is expected to prevent the release of emissions equivalent to over 80 billion metric tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by 2050, while continuing to protect the ozone layer. In this way, the Montreal Protocol will contribute to the fight against climate change in line with the Paris Agreement.

The new obligations adopted in Kigali are already complied with by the Member States through the implementation of Regulation (EU) No. 517/2014 (so-called F-Gas Regulation) and Implementing Regulation (EU) No. 1191/2014, subject to minor adjustments being adopted at EU level.

The European Union ratified the amendment on 26 September 2018.

Source: Montreal Protocol

It is an international treaty, under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme, designed to reduce the movement of hazardous waste between countries and, in particular, to prevent the transfer of hazardous waste from industrialized to Partner countries. It does not cover radioactive waste, however. The Convention also aims to minimize the rate and toxicity of waste generated, to ensure its environmentally sound management as close to the source of generation as possible, and to assist Partner countries in the environmentally sound management of the hazardous and other wastes they generate.

The text of the Basel Convention was adopted on 22 March 1989 and entered into force on 5 May 1992. The Convention has been ratified by 189 countries, including the European Union. The United States of America and Haiti have signed but not ratified it.

The convention is the most comprehensive global environmental agreement on hazardous wastes and other wastes. It aims to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects resulting from the generation, the transboundary (crossing borders) movement and the management of hazardous wastes and other wastes. It aims to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects resulting from the generation, the transboundary (across borders) movement and the management of hazardous wastes and other wastes.

The convention regulates the transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and other wastes and requires its parties to ensure that they manage and dispose of such wastes in an environmentally sound manner.

The Parties also undertake to:

  • Minimise the quantities that are transported;
  • Treat and dispose of the wastes as close as possible to their place of generation;
  • Prevent or minimise the generation of wastes at source.

Source: Basel Convention on the control of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal, 1989

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants aims to minimise global emissions of these substances into the environment.

It focuses mainly on the following provisions:

  • To prohibit and limit the production and use of commercial products (pesticides and/or industrial chemical products)
  • The unintentional production of several polluting substances, produced and emitted during combustion processes, for example.

The Stockholm Convention establishes the criteria and procedures according to which other substances can be included in the Convention’s annexes. Substances must be highly persistent, subject to bioaccumulation in animals and plants, and be transportable over long distances. In addition, they must have proven toxic effects on human health or on the environment.

Transformers and capacitors containing PCBs must be decommissioned by 2025 and disposed of in an environmentally sound manner.

Source: Basel Convention on the control of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal

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Last update: 07/05/2024, 12:18