The day after the partial restart of our country thanks to the start of “phase 2” of the fight against the health emergency, the Alliance published a Report evaluating the effect of the crisis on the various dimensions of sustainable development, proposing a series of actions considered necessary and urgent to stimulate recovery.
The Report “Policies to tackle the COVID-19 crisis and implement Agenda 2030 for sustainable development” was produced by 600 experts divided into working groups and found that the shock from Covid-19 has a serious impact on economic capital (drastic reduction in production capacity, accelerated by the fall in investment, and thus capital accumulation; fall in current and prospective wealth; etc.), human capital (unemployment and underemployment reduce the knowledge of individuals; the lockdown has a negative impact on training activities for young people, adults and workers; etc.) and social capital (reduction of interactions; operational difficulties for the Third Sector; etc.). The effects on natural capital, positive in the lockdown phase of socio-economic activities, may become negative in the restart phase if measures are not taken for the correct disposal of personal protective equipment (masks, gloves, etc.), to reduce the use of disposable plastic in catering and company canteens, to avoid the widespread use of private means of transport and to avoid the abandonment of ecological transition and decarbonisation programmes.
In any case, as confirmed by recent Eumetra MR surveys, the current difficulties seem to have given a further boost to the relevance of sustainability issues in people’s perception. Of particular note is the fact that the ranking of the Objectives indicates a substantial change in the priorities: if Goal 6 “Clean Water and Health” and Goal 13 “Fight against Climate Change” still remain in the first two places, the underlying positions are upset. Goal 2 “Defeating hunger” takes third place, Goal 1 “Defeating poverty” fourth and Goal 8 “Decent work and economic growth” fifth. This ranking shows how actions related to the protection of the individual and its dignity, in this period of pandemic emergency, seem to receive more attention than environmental issues.
“Italy must decide which direction to take: whether to continue in the direction indicated by the Budget Law for 2020, much more oriented towards sustainability than the previous ones, and the strategic orientations of the European Union, or whether, in the name of GDP growth at all costs, it will sacrifice the progress made or planned for the coming years, first of all the process of decarbonisation, worker safety and social equity”, stressed the spokesman of ASviS Enrico Giovannini.
With this in mind, the Report suggests a number of cross-cutting actions that would help the country “bounce ahead” towards more sustainable development:
- simplification of administrative procedures to allow rapid activation of public investment, also with a view to the timely use of future European funds;
- the reassessment of the role of the State, to complement and support the action of the private sector, for the protection of common goods and the promotion of economic behaviour oriented towards the well-being of all. This involves speeding up the transition to a circular economy, greater protection of workers’ health and rights, the extension to medium-sized enterprises of the obligation to report on the social and environmental impact of their activities, and the introduction of financing with a public guarantee for sustainable development;
- the acceleration of the digital transition as a driver for sustainable development, to be combined with measures to reconcile life and work (with particular attention to the condition of women, which in this situation risks being sacrificed) through corporate welfare and smart working, with positive effects on mobility and advantages for the climate and air quality;
- considering the natural capital, the basis of our health, well-being and development model, as central, and promoting an action plan for housing policies, urban regeneration and energy upgrading of the building stock;
- safeguarding and strengthening the cultural infrastructure, in each territory and at national level, by fostering an integrated relationship between the worlds of culture, education and tourism;
- taking up the challenge of distance learning to improve access to knowledge, the quality of learning, reduce inequalities and also provide adults with opportunities for lifelong learning;
- using rapidly, and from a systemic point of view, the European and national cohesion funds from the 2014-2020 programming that have not yet been committed by the State and the Regions for projects in the Mezzogiorno.
“The objective of public policies must be to minimise the negative effects of the shock and stimulate the “transformative resilience” of the socio-economic system. This is why all forms of capital deteriorated by the crisis, especially human capital, must be “rebuilt” as soon as possible”, concluded Giovannini.
In addition, together with the Report, the Alliance has also published an analysis of the “Decreto Liquidità” Decree Law 23 of 8 April “Urgent measures regarding access to credit and tax compliance for companies, special powers in strategic sectors, as well as interventions in health and work, extension of administrative and procedural deadlines”, in the light of the 17 Sustainable Development Objectives with the same methodology used for the analysis of the “Cura Italia” decree (here the link to the news of 31 March).