Interview with Jacopo Galli about the “Citta Campus" initiative and the role of the institution

The Press Office of the Global Campus of Human Rights interviewed the Project Manager of the Venice World Capital of Sustainability Foundation / Venice Sustainability Foundation (FVCMS/VSF) Architect Jacopo Galli about the “ Citta Campus “initiative and the role of the institution.

-Can you tell us something more about yourself and where the idea of creating a Venice World Capital of Sustainability Foundation came from?

I am an architect and researcher in architectural composition at the IUAV University of Venice. Furthermore, I am project manager on behalf of the Venice World Capital of Sustainability Foundation / Venice Sustainability Foundation (FVCMS/VSF) for the Venezia Città Campus project. The idea of creating the Venice World Capital of Sustainability Foundation was born from the need to generate an integrated approach to numerous and pressing challenges, which allows us to recreate in an innovative and stable form that experience of use (residential, work, tourism) which for centuries has made Venice a place without equal. The Foundation is chaired by Renato Brunetta, Venetian, teacher, former minister and currently president of the CNEL. The president has always had his hometown close to his heart, appreciating its merits and suffering from the lack of solutions to his problems. Today tourism, which also generates wealth, appears like a voracious animal, which devours everything around it, without caring too much about sustainability: the last twenty years have seen the establishment of an economy with low added value and a low employment rate, which exploits scarce and precious resources, such as houses. The phenomenon of residents fleeing, common in historic centers and not only in Italy, takes on peculiar aspects in the lagoon context. The alternative is, however, possible. It is suggestive to think how, in its first millennium of history, the wealth and very existence of the lagoon city was based on a high added value economy, of production and trade of precious goods, different in different historical periods. The intrinsic potential of the metropolitan area of Venice is very many, it can and must be connected and systematized. The history of Venice, a city built in an "impossible" place, if we read it correctly, is a path of sustainability that spans the centuries: the idea is therefore to rediscover this common thread and re-tie it, combining history, development and sustainability. Furthermore, the topic of sustainability is perceived today as among the most relevant in a global sense. In this sense, the Foundation indicates in its name the desire to promote Venice as the "world capital of Sustainability", that is, an objective to be achieved in the continuation of its history and, possibly, a reference for everyone.

-What is the mission and scope of the Foundation's activities and its connection with academic institutions and universities?

The Foundation wants to facilitate the creation of solutions for the complex challenges posed by the territory, to be shared with other entities. We wish to promote an innovative and integrated model of sustainable environmental, cultural, economic and social development. The Foundation has a large group of founding members (13) and co-founders (33). Institutions, public bodies, universities, businesses, each willing to provide their contribution for the sustainability of Venice. The activities are divided into a series of areas of intervention, currently nine, as well as some transversal project initiatives, currently three. Each area brings together, due to interest and expertise, different members of the Foundation and establishes a program of activities. Some areas of intervention are already active. They are called as follows: “Hydrogen”, which aims to develop the hydrogen hub in Veneto, also as one of the keys to the economic regeneration of Porto Marghera; “Energy Transition and Environment”, to promote the supply chains of renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable mobility and infrastructure, as well as the circular economy in the Venetian area; “Venezia Città Campus”, a disruptive initiative which aims to expand the local academic offer, to train the human capital of the future, but above all to create an urban cluster of knowledge which is an employment and residential driver also in the historic center and which develops, at the same time, , teaching, research, innovation, collaboration with businesses and services, consistently with the international spirit that has always distinguished this city, a crossroads of peoples and cultures. In 2024 we also want to start the activities related to the areas "Residentiality", "Sustainable tourism", "Innovation", "Social inclusion", "Culture of legality" and "Innovative cultural productions". Transversal projects, on the other hand, are multi-thematic or instrumental initiatives for the best success of the Foundation's activities. Today we have 3 active. The most strategic is "Objective Scenario" which aims to outline, with the members of the partnership, a reference scenario for the sustainable development of Venice. to become the point of reference for the activities and projects that Foundation accompanies. At the same time, the project aims to measure the effect of the initiatives implemented in Venice, through the creation of an index that feeds an observatory on Venetian urban sustainability. Finally, in developing the scenario exercise, it will be useful to reconstruct the history of modernization and resilience of a space as peculiar as the territory in which we live. Through the “Sustainable Bonds” project, however, we provide those seeking financing for their sustainability ideas with an accompanying service in the use of sustainable finance tools, provided that the proponent undertakes to achieve positive impacts for the Venetian socioeconomic system. Finally, in 2023, organized the first "Biennial of Sustainability", a program of events, every other year, which aims to create a space for international debate and exchange on the best sustainability practices of the territory, starting from those that arise from our places . Last year's edition, called "The Mose Era", was dedicated to safeguarding Venice from tidal events through a work of mobile hydraulic engineering that has no equal in the world. It represents not only a pride for our nation, but also the true game-changer of Venetian development, as it enables the socio-economic development of a territory finally protected by the sea.

-What type of events and services does the association provide to its members and how is it working nationally and internationally?

Our main modus operandi is to accompany and accelerate the projects proposed by the partners, acting as a "facilitator", thanks to the competence and plurality of the subjects that make up the partnership, as well as their respective relational networks. At the time of affiliation, members decide which areas of intervention to concentrate their contribution on. There is no limit to the ambition of projects that can be conceived in an "impossible" city like Venice, which can exploit the attractive charm of a global brand with incredible strength such as that of the lagoon city. Last year, eight seminar events were held in different areas of intervention and, of these, seven were part of the programming of the Biennial of Sustainability. I remember that 2023 was the first year in which the Foundation, established on 14 March 2022, operated at full capacity. Five international conferences were held, which saw the overall participation of over 900 people. High-profile speakers from Italian and foreign institutions, research bodies and universities took part in the meetings. Among them the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport, Matteo Salvini, the Minister of the Environment and Energy Security, Gilberto Pichetto Fratin, the Minister for Civil Protection and Maritime Policies, Nello Musumeci, the President of the CNR, Maria Chiara Carrozza and the President of OGS, Nicola Casagli, the CEO of the Green H2 Organization, Jonas Moberg, the Director of C40 Cities Climate Resilience, Sachin Bhoite, the Head of the Italian Civil Protection Department, Fabrizio Curcio, the Director of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), Paola Albrito. they were joined by the mayors of Biarritz and Porto, several executives of the European Commission, technicians and institutional representatives from the USA, EU, United Kingdom, Japan, Nigeria, Lebanon, Mexico, Norway, and Caribbean states. Alongside the conferences, we created the exhibition "Venice and science, two centuries of sustainability", organized together with the Veneto Institute of Sciences, Letters and Arts - IVSLA (over 3500 visitors in one month of programming), which offered a compelling story of how the scientific and technological progress of the late 19th and early 20th centuries changed the city, overcoming the serious economic crisis caused by the fall of the Serenissima and making it an active part of the modernization process. The 2023 Sustainability Biennial also included seven "side events", such as conferences, workshops and exhibitions. Furthermore, the monograph "MOSE ingenza italiano" was created with the magazine Fortune Italia. In it, we wanted to tell - in Italian and English - the entirely "Made in Italy" success of the great engineering work, with interventions by institutions, builders and experts. Finally, the monograph was an opportunity to describe the Foundation and its partnership to a wider audience. In October we will co-organize the first "Venice H2 Forum", together with the Green Hydrogen Organization, an international meeting between institutions and upstream, midstream, and downstream operators interested in the hydrogen sector. The forum will promote discussion between European, North African and Middle Eastern actors, to develop, starting from the Mediterranean, infrastructures serving the hydrogen economy.

-What value do you place on human rights education to help solve these challenges?

Although the Foundation does not specifically address the issue of human rights, this is clearly a fundamental and indispensable dimension of the sustainability of development. Hosting the presence of the Global Campus of Human Rights in Venice is an undeniable added value. Internationalization and discussion of delicate issues such as this bring Venice back to its central value: that of a city that has always been a crossroads of peoples and cultures, therefore of exchange and sharing. But access to education and education also fall within the sphere of fundamental rights: with the “Venezia Città Campus” project, for the development of the knowledge economy in Venice, we want to bring new life to the city, betting on its ability to train young people and retain talent. To do this, we need to provide the infrastructure and services necessary to make our places competitive in training, research, and innovation. And to do so compatibly with the carrying capacity of a very peculiar and fragile territory.

-Can you leave a message for faculty, alumni, students and staff of the Global Campus of Human Rights?

“Everything of value in human society depends on the opportunities for progress that are afforded to each individual”. The sphere of human rights is indispensably upstream, in the middle and downstream of this illuminating quote by Einstein.

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Elisa Aquino – Andrea Cammarata – Francesca Sante

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