The coronavirus pandemic is upsetting habits and ways of life. This difficult period can be an opportunity to rethink our lives, to try to better understand the challenges of our time and learn some lessons. The pandemic is also questioning consumption and waste management models and causing a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, traffic and pollution. Circular economy, decarbonisation and sustainable mobility: what must and can we do to support these major green challenges during and after the pandemic? The pandemic also opens a reflection on how to rethink homes, intermediate spaces (terraces, balconies, condominium gardens, etc.), cities to overcome the challenges of green cities.
These issues are addressed by the “Pandemic and green challenges of our time” dossier, one month after the start of the measures of social distancing, in web conference by the Green City Network and by the Foundation for sustainable development in partnership with Ecomondo – Key Energy.
“During this pandemic, consumption has decreased, the attention on food consumption has grown – said Edo Ronchi, President of ASviS – but afterwards we will return to the previous starting point, as if nothing had happened, or we will have taken a few steps forward to understand better the challenges of our time? How important and delicate food consumption is, characterized by high waste and high impact and how the quantity of materials we consume has grown enormously and is now unsustainable “.
The severe lesson imparted by this dramatic event must push us to rethink the relationship between man and food, starting right from the cities that in 2050 will host 70% of the world population. It is an opportunity to carry out a careful analysis of the various critical issues determined by some agricultural and livestock production models – which have become progressively dominant – and by unexpected distortions of food behaviors, which in recent years have dangerously increased their incisiveness.
“We are having difficulties in waste management and recycling – continues Ronchi – Greenhouse gas emissions are falling, but we must not neglect the climate crisis and decarbonisation measures because after the crisis, emissions will start growing again if we do not change. Traffic in the city has collapsed, but will it resume as before or can we reflect on how to make our mobility in the cities less polluting and less congested? “
The Dossier also recalls the need to limit the damage caused by this pandemic to the separate collection and recycling system. Furthermore, the collapse of energy consumption in production, industry and services, and in transport is generating a reduction in CO2 emissions in the short term. The reduction in emissions that we are experiencing during the coronavirus pandemic is not expected to last after the crisis and should not lead to an underestimation of the necessary and long-term commitment to tackle global warming.
Cities have been practically traffic-free since the coronavirus forced everyone to stay at home. To prevent the crisis from returning to congested and polluting traffic in our cities, we must take advantage of this to open up a reflection on the model of urban mobility and how change it when the coronavirus is gone. The dossier also indicates good green practices to make mobility in cities more sustainable, to reduce unnecessary travel, to reduce the use of cars in cities and to promote the use of greener vehicles.
In the second part of the Dossier some reflections and analyzes are advanced that start from how the use of spaces in homes has changed during this pandemic to think about how these changes can affect our vision and planning of Living even after the pandemic. The spaces equipped for smartworking inside the home, the home no longer conceived as just a dormitory, but also a place of work, study and culture, leisure and sociality.
“Probably, even if the emergency has eased or passed – said Fabrizio Tucci, Professor of Sapienza University of Rome and Coordinator of the international group of experts of the Green City Network – the way of life will remain affected and changed in its nature and in its modalities and “live”. We could experience this incredible period of forced collective experimentation as an opportunity to be taken to decide to produce new forms and new spaces of living, better for the community, more just and more inclusive for the weaker groups, and more in line with their own objectives of what we call the green city approach”.
The pandemic taught the importance of balconies, terraces, courtyards and gardens, including condominiums, all intermediate spaces in general that can play important roles, also from an environmental point of view, with the green building approach. The coronavirus emergency also made us rethink the importance of urban space, an urban structure that ensures proximity of residences to services, work and recreational facilities, so as to reduce travel from one area of the city to another and commuting.