The Social Effects of Eco-Innovations in Italian Smart Cities

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 16:30
Location: Hörsaal 10 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Beretta ILARIA, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Brescia, Italy
The European Union promotes the paradigm of ecological modernization and the effectiveness of eco – innovations (EEA, 2014). This is evident, in particular, from the political and financial support that the Institution is devoting to smart cities. Thus far, most of the ‘smart’ projects developed in European cities focus on the theme of the environment and its efficient management (UE, 2014).

 However, what has not yet been adequately investigated, so far, is the issue of the social impact of these smart environmental projects (Beretta, 2015). In particular, what seems important  is the question of whether the projects with environmental objectives also yield beneficial results from the social point of view, with special  reference to the issue of social inclusion. Who are the real beneficiaries of the projects of eco - innovation? Do the benefits extend to all citizens? Or are they likely to go to only some sectors of the population, often the wealthier ones, risking - among other things - promotion of the phenomenon of eco - gentrification? In more general terms, can we say that smart cities represent the ‘ideal’ settings for the achievement of simultaneous environmental, economic and social development?

 This paper reports results from research conducted on smart environmental projects implemented in Italy and presented at the Smartcity exhibition 2015 in Bologna, the leading Italian exhibition on smart cities. The project consisted of a qualitative analysis of the environmental projects presented, in order to analyze their social impacts, especially referring to the question of social inclusiveness (with ‘inclusiveness of the projects’ meaning that they cover/include all the different segments/groups of the population, from the strongest to the weakest and wealthiest to poorest).  More generally, the analysis helps clarify whether the eco - innovations represent an effective tool for achieving sustainable development in the Italian context.