BIO-DISTRICTS: BUILDING ATTRACTIVE TERRITORIES

Kim Assaël, Giuseppe Orefice

Abstract


Bio-districts are a new way to address the eco-sustainable reconversion of entire territories based on methods and techniques of organic agriculture. They represent a local strategy of territorial sustainable development, able to respond concretely to social needs, decay of environmental quality, progressive and constant reduction of rural population, financial crisis and climatic emergencies, promoting possible solutions.

The organic dimension has, as its main objective, the improvement of the quality and sustainability of production, land and agricultural products as part of the cultural heritage of a local community and a founding element of local identity. The district dimension focuses on sustainability and endogenous quality of development. Those elements, together with a form of governance that involves all the territorial stakeholders, make the system competitive, because it is based on products with a certified quality and on strong ties with the local territory. Organized in a multifunctional way – in economic, environmental and social activities – the Bio-district is a solution that is coherent with the objectives of the latest UN Assembly that commits all governments to promote innovation in every aspect of development, in a participatory, equitable and sustainable way, in response to territorial needs.

The article discusses the various types of Bio-districts, their diffusion at the national and international level and their innovative character. Born in Italy, precisely in Cilento (Salerno), today they include about twenty initiatives underway in the country and others in the implementation phase. The Bio-districts are associated in the international network INNER, presented in the KIP Pavilion in Expo Milan 2015. Finally, the authors report some results of the “Bio-district Cilento” which, since 2004, has the ambition of representing a “permanent laboratory for the experimentation of ideas for an ethical, equitable and sustainable development of the territory”. This is, actually, a strategic choice of quality development that captures important innovations: increased the growth of environmental and social awareness of consumers who become co-protagonists in the production of value; communication technologies that allow new forms of participation; the leading role of local communities that organize themselves to deal with disadvantages and to manage common goods; globalization which encourages the construction of local networks in a global dimension. All those elements contribute to the creation of more attractive territories that provide sustainable and replicable working tools for different but complementary realities.

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