Italy, Latin America and a model for the cities of tomorrow

Published on Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Working together for sustainable growth was the theme chosen for the 9th Italy-Latin America and Caribbean Conference (10 October), an event organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs every two years in order to help strengthen the relationship between our country and Latin America.

Over 3,500 Italian companies are operating in Latin America, with a total annual turnover of 54 billion dollars (compared to 38 billion in Asia).

The commercial interaction with the region stands at a figure of 23 billion euro a year. As Italy’s Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio pointed out in his opening speech, Italy’s leadership in the energy market and its significant presence in the car, building and manufacturing industries mean we have a special, strategic relationship with that region of the world. This partnership is now being called upon to face “even more complex” challenges, especially in terms of social and environmental sustainability. As executive director of the International Energy Agency Fatih Birol told the audience at the Farnesina, the Rome headquarters of Italy’s Foreign Ministry, these themes will take centre stage at the next World Climate Conference COP 25 which will be held in December in Latin America, in Santiago, Chile, to be precise.

Di Maio told national delegates from 38 countries that, particularly in the field of renewable energy, “Italy is an important player from the point of view of know-how and technological development,” and that “the digitalisation of the economy makes it possible to rectify many mistakes that have made our development less sustainable – from an environment point of view, for example.” As a result, the Foreign Minister hopes for a “win-win alliance” between Italy and Latin America in areas like the fight against climate change, the challenge of renewables and technological innovation.

Our Group is already forging these alliances. During the conference Ernesto Ciorra, Enel’s Head of Innovability, described the sustainability projects we are developing in Latin America with a view to creating the circular cities of the future. These range from the fleet of electric buses we have introduced in Chile and Peru to the e-bus recharging terminals in Colombia and the extremely innovative Vila Olímpia-Urban Futurability project we presented a few days ago in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Here a Digital Twin Network will create a faithful replica of the local electrical infrastructure, the first “digital twin” to be developed in South America. These are tangible examples of Innovability, i.e. innovation going hand in hand with sustainability.

“Pier Paolo Pasolini said that the difference between growth and progress is that progress also involves social growth, quality of life and culture. We share this vision and we are convinced that it will always play an increasingly central role in societal progress”, said Ciorra as he announced the new edition of Enel’s position paper on circular cities, entitled “Circular cities. Cities of tomorrow.”

The world is experiencing an unprecedently powerful wave of urbanisation, a phenomenon that is under way in Latin America and Asia and is gradually gaining momentum. Ensuring essential requirements like access to energy for a constantly growing population, and combining it with greater social inclusion and reduced emissions is the challenge facing us all for the future, and has inspired the circular cities model. In the words of Luca Meini, Enel’s Head of Circular Economy and author of the afore-mentioned paper, “Circular cities provide a model whose final aims are competitivity, environmental sustainability and social inclusion, where the circular economy is the approach to adopt to achieve these aims and where technology and innovation are fundamental facilitators.”

Download the position paper “Circular cities. Cities of tomorrowhere.