Circularity in Italian cities: interesting development for international collaboration

May 12, 2021

As part of the ‘Business Day Italy’ online event organized by The Netherlands Enterprise Agency RVO, Holland Circular Hotspot facilitated an event, in collaboration with The Netherlands Embassy in Rome, tackling one of the hottest Circular Economy topics: Circular Cities!

During the session led by HCH director Freek van Eijk, the speakers shared insights on and examples for circularity in Italian cities under different dimensions. Read further for a summary of the event.


Rewatch the Circular Cities Session!


Highlights of the event

Starting off the presentations was Director of the Italian Foundation for Sustainable Development, Raimondo Orsini, who shared some best practices from major Italian cities such as Verona, Parma, and Prato. He highlighted the importance of the Next Generation EU recovery fund, of which a significant portion (around 40%) will be invested in green and circular projects.


“Circularity is historically embedded in the DNA of Italian cities. It is time to awaken this huge potentiality” – Raimondo Orsini.


The presentation titled ‘Moving Towards Circular Economy: The Case of Milan’, was presented by Manuela Ojan, Environmental Transition Director at the Milan Technical Agency AMAT. In her presentation, she gave a 360 degree view on Milan’s efforts in transitioning towards a circular and green economy, with projects in sectors including waste management, food, energy, design, mobility, and construction. Milan has multiple ambitious goals and commitments including international commitments with the C40 city network in cutting CO2 emissions by 60% within the next 10 years.


“Italian cities are champions in waste recycling and circular material use. Italian creativity is a plus in rethinking and redesigning business models and reinventing cities. Milan is leading by example” – Manuela Ojan.


Mr. Andrea Tota, Head of Real Estate at The Student Hotel (TSH) explained how TSH adopts a hybrid model that allows interactions between different types of clientele, resulting in a stimulating and unique experience for all guests. The organization’s strategy also avoids prime locations for its new developments in order to play a role in developing non-central and under-represented areas within cities, rendering them more lively and attractive for external initiatives, all that while ensuring sustainable practices during the construction phase of their projects.


“Italy has an amazing business network that serves a well known and qualified market. The synergy between the most important cities is crucial for business development, further in our country they are well connected in terms of infrastructure and services” – Andrea Tota.


Last but by far not least, we were joined by Mr. Antonello Magliozzi, Head of Design and Engineering at Arcadis Italia. Mr. Magliozzi shared his presentation titled “The Italian Urban Regeneration New Wave” in which he shared the firm’s newest assignment to re-invent the famous Loreto square in the heart of Milan. The project will result in a new public space for the community and contribute to the well-being of the city as a whole. Arcadis has many more examples for regenerative developments in Italy, and pays much attention SDGs within the firm’s development through their urban regeneration process.


“Italian cities tell a story of anthropic transformations in harmony with the territory, the inhabitants and the economies. A harmony that, although interrupted in the last century by mainly industrial development, is now achievable thanks to the presence of a heritage of urban and environmental connections. Reusing and regenerating this heritage tells indeed the trajectory of the Italian cultural “renaissance” of the 21st century according to the principles of a full circular economy” – Antonella Magliozzi.


In conclusion, Italy is already a European leader when it comes to circular economy. With well over 8,000 municipalities across the country, Italy is a country of cities, many of which having non-comparable historical value. With recovery funds flowing in the country, Italy is well on its way to up its sustainability and circularity game. The momentum and timing cannot be better! To take advantage, feel free to get in touch with The Netherlands Embassy in Rome for further information and support.