Dolomites forging climate resilience

The Italian Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are actively pursuing adaptation measures based on a systemic approach as part of their fight against the climate crisis. Under the Deep Demonstrations programme “Forging Resilience in Dolomites”, the authorities of four Dolomite provinces have for the first time jointly discussed climate change adaptation measures. The portfolio of co-designed actions touches on areas such as transboundary cooperation, education, youth mobilisation and democratisation of climate action in rural areas. 

This long-term process, which began in 2019, aims to support communities in the Dolomites to foster the resilience to extreme climate-related events. It also addresses the economic and financial uncertainties and the resulting social changes. The process brought together partners such as the Edmund Mach Foundation, the Innovation Hub Trentino and the University of Trento, Department of Civil, Environmental and Mechanical Engineering (DICAM).

The Dolomites area, comprising four territories: the Veneto Region, the Autonomous Region of Friuli Venezia Giulia and the Autonomous Provinces of Trento and Bolzano, is known for its high natural, artistic and cultural heritage and has been recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 2009. These landscapes attract several million visitors every year, but also experience an aggravation of extreme weather events such as landslide and debris flows, storms, heavy rains and droughts.

Climate lesson learned 

In 2018, the region was hit by a severe storm, Storm Vaia (or Storm Adrian) which caused massive damage to the mountain ecosystem. The winds, which reached 220 km/h, knocking down about eight million cubic metres of timber, and massive rain that caused flooding, killed eleven people in two days. The storm affected the forest-timber value chain and related activities such as tourism and agriculture. This highlights the dramatic consequences that extreme weather phenomena have on the environment, the economy and people’s lives in the region.

We have been concerned for many years about how climate change is affecting our region and how nature is changing. That is why we decided to join the EIT Climate-KIC community in 2017, but we focused even more intensely on resilience after storm Vaia hit our land. This raised the issue of resilience – the community was shocked and became determined to improve adaptation measures to prevent damage of this scale in the future. This turning point convinced us to move forward with the collaboration and to join the Race to Resilience programme.” – says Alessandro Gretter, Senior Technologist from the Edmund Mach Foundation.

The storm also brought together a sub-regional community of residents and institutions who decided to act together to repair the storm damage by planting new trees or reusing the damaged wood to make speakers or other products out of the fallen timber.

Together for a better tomorrow

The devastation caused by Storm Vaia has also prompted regional authorities and regional institutions to adopt resilience measures and develop adaptation strategies. This has led to an unusual cross-border collaboration between municipalities in the four regions, which until this point had been isolated from each other and not working together.

“There has been an amazing collaboration of people from different provinces and different sectors of society like city governments, business, education, sitting around the same table for the first time, and envisioning a sustainable future together. It gave them the opportunity to talk to each other, to collaborate and to think outside the box. These climate challenges do not care about administrative boundaries. The problem can only be solved if we manage to build a relationship that goes beyond them.” – adds Gretter. At that point, there had been a lot of micro-level activity in the region, but through the process, stakeholders concluded that resilience should be addressed at the system level.

Building an inclusive community

The collaboration has developed a portfolio of activities focused on three main areas: forestry and agriculture, tourism and community engagement. Activities related to forestry focus on promoting long-term conservation and biodiversity while maintaining productivity, mapping ecosystem services at the local level and modeling and forecasting the impacts on forests, promoting the development of insurance scheme for the forest ecosystem services (with the pathfinder project “Holistic Resilience”). The project also focuses on promoting sustainable tourism, flexibility and sustainable management of tourist flows, and how to mitigate and compensate the impacts of tourism. 

The initiative also aims to identify strategies and tools to support innovation in mountain areas, but also new technologies and new collaborations for warning systems that can reach remote areas. Current activities also focus on engaging citizens and tourists in mitigation strategies, as well as skills and capacity building among the younger generation. 

The power of youth 

“Social innovation is more than relevant. Building an active community and investing in youth is forward thinking because they will become our leaders one day. Young people in the Dolomites already feel empathy for the topics of climate emergency. The idea is to involve youth from different parts of the Dolomites, not only from bigger cities but also from rural, scattered regions.” – Gretter comments on mobilisation of the younger generations. Since people in rural regions are more vulnerable to extreme weather events, the project emphasises democratising climate action in non-urban areas. This requires greater engagement from the local community, but according to Gretter, there is already a big shift in mindset that is taking place over the years.

In order to mobilise the younger generation and get them more involved in community building activities, educational and cultural programmes are being carried out to find talent and draw their attention to climate change. For a number of years, there has been an educational programme for young people, giving selected participants the chance to attend the UN climate change conference. This year, twelve Trentino university students and researchers had the opportunity to attend COP26. The idea is to gain knowledge and experience and upon their return to put their new ideas into practice locally. To engage people in climate action, partners in the region also organise Climathon and many more initiatives.

EIT Climate-KIC is proud to be a partner of the UN High Level Champion’s Race to Resilience campaign, which is working to step-up global ambition for climate resilience in the run-up to COP26 and beyond. For more on the Race to Resilience partners and initiatives, or how to get involved, see here.

 
Location
Italy
Articles you may be interested in
In The News
Glasgow City Region pioneering forest economy innovation to drive climate acti...

Scotland’s largest city region is actively tackling climate change...

Glasgow City Region pioneering forest economy innovation to drive climate action
In The News
Forging sustainable timber construction in Europe

EIT Climate-KIC and Built by Nature, announce an initiative...

Forging sustainable timber construction in Europe
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC launches new Circularity Thinking training programme

EIT Climate-KIC is launching Circularity Thinking courses to tackle...

EIT Climate-KIC launches new Circularity Thinking training programme
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC announces four winners of EIT Community Booster

EIT Climate-KIC selected four cleantech start-ups to be part...

EIT Climate-KIC announces four winners of EIT Community Booster
In The News
Science reveals last paths to stop irreversible planetary damage

Climate change is going to get worse, but curbing global warming is...

Science reveals last paths to stop irreversible planetary damage
In The News
EIT Community presents New European Bauhaus Ideation Awards winners

Supported by the EIT Community, the New European Bauhaus...

EIT Community presents New European Bauhaus Ideation Awards winners
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC joins forces with the Government of Ireland to stimulate clima...

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Marine of...

EIT Climate-KIC joins forces with the Government of Ireland to stimulate climate innovation in the agri-food sector
In The News
Climate Lab: EIT Climate-KIC co-initiates hotspot for Vienna’s climate ambit...

Climate Lab in Vienna will give climate actors an...

Climate Lab: EIT Climate-KIC co-initiates hotspot for Vienna’s climate ambitions
In The News
Seven takeaways from the latest IPCC report

On 28 February, the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (AR6)...

Seven takeaways from the latest IPCC report
In The News
EIT launches new Global Outreach website

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) has...

EIT launches new Global Outreach website
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC and Amazon launch call for sustainable start-ups

Working on transformative, systemic innovation to accelerate a net-zero...

EIT Climate-KIC and Amazon launch call for sustainable start-ups
In The News
Votes open for the 2021 New European Bauhaus Ideation Awards – Audience Awar...

Do you want to support innovative solutions that integrate...

Votes open for the 2021 New European Bauhaus Ideation Awards – Audience Award
In The News
Brill Power’s new innovation radically increases battery life and storag...

Brill Power, supported by EIT Climate-KIC, has launched the...

Brill Power’s new innovation radically increases battery life and storage capacity
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC CEO Dr. Kirsten Dunlop gives TEDx Talk

EIT Climate-KIC CEO Dr. Kirsten Dunlop delivered a talk,...

EIT Climate-KIC CEO Dr. Kirsten Dunlop gives TEDx Talk
In The News
Putting theory into practice: EIT Climate-KIC Pioneer innovating the Greek mar...

To tackle complex climate challenges, we need a broader...

Putting theory into practice: EIT Climate-KIC Pioneer innovating the Greek maritime sector
In The News
EIT launches call for proposals to boost innovation in Higher Education Instit...

Unlocking the potential of higher education institutions for innovation...

EIT launches call for proposals to boost innovation in Higher Education Institutions
In The News
People-powered resilience: Andalusia announces new climate action plan

The region’s climate action plan has been announced, with...

People-powered resilience: Andalusia announces new climate action plan
In The News
Built by Nature: new initiative to accelerate the transition to sustainable co...

The built environment accounts for close to 40 per...

Built by Nature: new initiative to accelerate the transition to sustainable construction in cities
In The News
The State of California and EIT Climate-KIC advance partnership for climate in...

Glasgow, 8 November – The California Governor’s Office of...

The State of California and EIT Climate-KIC advance partnership for climate innovation
In The News
COP26: UN Climate Change and EIT Climate-KIC partner to establish new Global I...

A new digital Global Innovation Hub has been launched at...

COP26: UN Climate Change and EIT Climate-KIC partner to establish new Global Innovation Hub
In The News
ClimateLaunchpad announces 2021 competition winners

EIT Climate-KIC’s ClimateLaunchpad – the world’s largest green business...

ClimateLaunchpad announces 2021 competition winners
In The News
EIT Cross-KIC New European Bauhaus launches Ideation – Deadline Extended

EIT Climate-KIC has launched a call for ideas on...

EIT Cross-KIC New European Bauhaus launches Ideation – Deadline Extended
In The News
Call for proposals: Scaling the New European Bauhaus Ventures

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) has...

Call for proposals: Scaling the New European Bauhaus Ventures
In The News
Glasgow City Region in the race to resilience

Glasgow, which is hosting this year’s UN Climate Change...

Glasgow City Region in the race to resilience
In The News
Gipuzkoa’s quest for sustainability

Gipuzkoa, the smallest Spanish province located in the Basque...

Gipuzkoa’s quest for sustainability
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC to host week-long celebration of climate innovators

The EIT Climate-KIC Week of Action will celebrate, recognise...

EIT Climate-KIC to host week-long celebration of climate innovators
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC launches new series of circular economy courses

As companies and practitioners around the world are looking...

EIT Climate-KIC launches new series of circular economy courses
In The News
NetZeroCities: the new project leading European cities’ transition to net-ze...

Starting in October 2021, the new project NetZeroCities will...

NetZeroCities: the new project leading European cities’ transition to net-zero emissions by 2030
In The News
In the face of complex challenges, Europe stronger together, says EU President...

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen outlined her...

In the face of complex challenges, Europe stronger together, says EU President von der Leyen
In The News
New IPCC report reveals urgent need for climate innovation

The IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report has launched. The report...

New IPCC report reveals urgent need for climate innovation