| ||organisation: Varese Ligure municipality|
activity: local administration
intro: Varese Ligure is a small rural municipality in the region of Liguria, Italy. The municipality is characterised by its small population (2,400 inhabitants) spread around 27 hamlets in an area of 14,000 ha. 95% of the land has not been built on and is covered by forests. Around ten years ago, Varese Ligure found itself in difficulty. Its economy was weak, the settlements were decaying and people were moving away. This prompted the mayor to try to do something to reverse the trend and revitalise the municipality by investing in its main resources within the framework of sustainable development.
what: the village launched its overall development strategy with the renovation of the city centre. On the economic side, policy has focused on promoting agriculture and tourism and encouraging farmers to take up organic farming. The administration put a great deal of effort in the protection and promotion of the environmental quality of the village, which eventually allowed it to become the first ISO 14001 certified Italian municipality (October 1999) and the first European EMAS-registered municipality (November 1999). The development of Varese Ligure began with the rehabilitation of its historical buildings thanks to regional, national and EU funds. The municipality worked on public buildings first, and has subsequently supported private-building renovation by disseminating information and helping private citizens to move in the same direction.
how: an important aspect of the environmental strategy is its focus on renewable sources of energy and on energy saving. All these actions have resulted in important synergies that support each other to reach the final aim, which is for the municipality to be 100% renewable and 100% organic with in the next few years. The strategy is managed by the City Council under the direct supervision of its mayor.
results: the municipality already has two wind generators (4 million Kw) and will be installing a further two in the near future (two million Kw). A third solar photovoltaic installation on the public wastewater treatment station is scheduled. In the field of biomass, the authorities are promoting the use of pellet boilers by encouraging local production of pellets as a means of generating income and contributing to forestry maintenance.
- The two PV installations that are already in operation enable emissions avoidance of 9,600 Kg/year of CO2 and the third will account for another 9,700 kg/year. The wind farm allows saving 8,000 tonnes of CO2 annually.
- There has been a reduction in waste production (350 kg/per capita versus an average of 530 kg/per capita of the province), and a strong increase in separated garbage collection (more than 25% of the total waste amount).
- Today, organic farming in Varese Ligure represents 95% of its total agricultural production.
getting involved: Varese Ligure constitutes only one among the many examples of local administrations on the forefront of sustainability. These often small but brave, clever and enlightened local communities need help and encouragement from all citizens, especially those with special skills in public administration and/or urban planning, energy, waste and water management, etc.