Conducted, transcribed and edited by Fajr Alsayed
The European Green Party of Turin (Europa Verde Torino) is a newly reformed party in northern Italy. Its founders describe it as an environmentalist, pro-European, feminist, and progressive project. The party has recently published its open program; which aims at creating a network of circular economies and rebuilding and restructuring the city of Turin in an environmental, sustainable, and modern way. I sat with three of the Greens of Turin on a virtual roundtable, commissioner and spokesperson: Angela Plaku (BSc in International Development and Cooperation), member and social media responsible: Alice Massimiani (PhD program in Environmental Engineering), and member and media responsible: Giusipi Enrico Franchi (MSc in Media Technology and Games.)
A Motor City
Q– You are a newly reformed party in Turin; why does the city need a Green party, and why should people join you?
Angela: Turin is the most environmentally unstable city in Italy. We have terrible air quality, and face enormous challenges, not only climate threats, but also a social and economic crisis that has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are offering solutions and aspire to achieve sustainable development for the whole urban area, not just the city’s main centre.
Some of the solutions we are proposing, for example, are affordable housing and ecological transition. We want to ensure that the transition is not just a greenwashing thing, like some of the corporations do (take Shell, for example, who, by the way, are investing in research programs here at Turin’s University.) In fact, we want to avoid such greenwashing practices because we have to look for renewable sources if we wanted clean energy. We are calling for the adaptation of the European Green New Deal, and want to achieve that by becoming a circular economy.
Furthermore, our program does not only focus on the environment but also the society and the economy. So, we want to ensure safe access to food, safe access to energy, and create a modern and smart city.
Q- Unlike in other European countries, the Greens are not popular in Italy, why do you think that is and how do you plan to change it?
Angela: We have a problem with the media. We do not have a lot of TV or Radio Times. However, nowadays, with the lockdown and COVID, we started to use more virtual services. We are organizing webinars, and public calls with associations and movements.
Alicia: In a pandemic situation, we are trying to network with organizations, movements, and activists to mobilize the local community. We also have a specialized group dedicated to communications and social media. We are trying to use all sorts of online platforms to reach out to everyone. You can use the social network you like and find us there, trying to convey our messages.
At the same time, we try to communicate with associations and groups working in the area. We try to reach out to and consult active people in their communities and on the ground because we believe that there is so much for us to learn. Further, we hold both internal and public meetings to reach voters and community members.
An Open Program
Q- It seems like you are trying to encourage people to participate in the policymaking of the party?
Alicia: Exactly! Well, our program is an open one. It is one of a few political programs that are open to suggestions and feedback and, of course, criticism.
Global anthropogenic activities
Q– Do you think that the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the focus away from the fight against climate change and environmental advocacy?
Angela: Of course, the global COVID-19 crisis has shifted the attention from the climate crisis, but we also consider it a stage of the climate crisis. We believe the pandemic was a result of global anthropogenic activities. In addition, we understand that giving safe and free access to health is strictly related to a clean and sustainable environment.
Health and the environment aren’t two separate subjects. If we want to resolute the COVID-19 crisis, we also have to resolute the climate crisis.
Q- So, do you think, there needs to be a sort of international cooperation to protect the environment as much as working on developing vaccines?
Angela: We have to achieve the UN sustainable targets. The primary objective is to stop poverty to stop anger. The environment is a topic that covers all the goals, including health, poverty, hunger, and sustainable development.
Q- Turin is one of the biggest industrial hubs in Italy and hosts the headquarters for many automotive brands. Is the Green party of Turin planning to deindustrialize the city?
Alice: Turin is indeed famous for being an industrial city, for having these big car companies that shaped the city’s image and the way we plan its future. The key idea here is that we need to change the way we produce and consume. That is, by decarbonizing the sector and by applying carbon prices. For example, we must rethink the way we use materials and the way we recycle them.
The other point of focus is to decentralize economic production. For example, in the energy sector, we aim to replace the major energy production hubs around the cities with a network of production points where people can self produce and consume energy. We want to work with the industry sector to ensure a smooth, quick, and effective transition.
We plan to create a network of circular economies. Basically, change the way the system is working instead of building another one from scratch. We want to create a system that puts an end to the anarchy in the energy sector and renovates the way we think of consumption and how we consume energy, recycle it, and derive it from clean sources. For us, the environment, the economy, and social equity go hand in hand.
End of Part 1
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