Energie Sisma Emilia: summary of the ongoing project
The 2012 earthquake has shaken up collective understanding of a vast territory within the region of Emilia-Romagna, Italy. It struck the architectural and cultural heritage of 33 towns, the lives of 550,000 people, and the economic activities of an area that alone generates almost 2% of national GDP. It also profoundly impacted a vast majority of social infrastructures, such as the organization of services by the local health system, serving almost 230,000 people. The earthquake-affected areas are characterized by the presence of important industrial districts, such as the biomedical district, as well as agricultural districts, and by internationally-renown good practices of local governance. Private and public buildings, factories, offices and retail shops, historical and cultural heritage sites, have been severely damaged and must be promptly reconstructed to ensure the continuity of socio-economic activities and the quick recovery of local systems. Within the two year research project “Energie Sisma Emilia”, the team proposing EnSIR started a multidimensional analysis of the fractures that the earthquake brought about, not only in the physical structure of cities in that area, but also in their socio-economic fabric. The underlying idea is that the earthquake set in motion transformations whose consequences are not easy to foresee: different agents, at different levels, taking individual and collective decisions, generate a cascade of changes that interact with the evolution path of the local systems. Indeed, earthquakes pose challenges, but provide unprecedented opportunities: strategic decisions by economic and political agents, newly available financial resources, coordination or lack of coordination among main stakeholders, prompt tackling of the risk of organized crime profiting from the disaster, and so on. A key question to address, in order to understand what opportunities and challenges may emerge after the earthquake, is the relationship between the factors that were shaping the evolution of the local systems before and those that have now been triggered. The project has two main objectives: (1) carrying out an in-depth analysis of socio-economic and health impacts of the earthquake; (2) contributing to the design of informed policies that may improve the effectiveness of the reconstruction process.