Calabria is the tip of the Italian peninsula; it borders with Basilicata and stretches between the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Ionian Sea in the direction of Sicily, from which it is divided by the Strait of Messina. Geographically, Calabria has its own distinct individuality, due to its peripheral and almost isolated position, compared with the rest of Italy, its characteristic conformation and morphological structure. 42% of Calabria’s area, corresponding to 15,080 km2, is mountainous, 49% is hilly, while plains occupy only 9% of the region’s territory.
Calabria Region has five provinces. The capital city of Calabria is Catanzaro. Its most populated city, and the seat of the Regional Council of Calabria is Reggio Calabria. The other three provinces are Vibo Valentia, Crotone and Cosenza.
Over time, the population has favored the coastal zone, through a disorderly urbanization and the gradual abandonment of inland and less accessible areas. The settlement system comes as disjointed, in the light of the large number of municipalities and of the low population, that characterizes them. 323 out of 409 municipalities (79% of the number of municipalities in the region, 5.7% of the number of municipalities in Italy) have a population of no more than 5.000 inhabitants, being therefore classified as small municipalities. Usually, only 33.5% of the residents lives in these municipalities. On the contrary, almost 470.000 people (24% of the regional population) live in five municipalities (Reggio Calabria, Cosenza, Catanzaro, Lamezia Terme and Crotone) with more than 50 000 inhabitants. The municipalities with up to 1000 inhabitants are 79 (24.5% of the number of small municipalities and 19.3% of the number of municipalities in the region). In recent decades, the low-density settlement growth led to an excessive loss of land. The urbanized area increased though a reduction of the population was registerd, which over the past 20 years has been more than 111,000 units. In 2011, the average percentage incidence of dwellings occupied solely by non-residents or non-employed amounted to 32.6%, corresponding to more than 366,000 homes, the highest value in Italy after Valle d’Aosta (46.7%). The national average is 17.2%.
Energy and spatial planning in Italy
To date, there has not been an integrated and holistic view of the actions and interventions involved in a planning process: every area has its own plan (i.e. Waste Plan, Environmental Energy Plan, Regional Territorial Framework), given the segmentation of energy issues , environment and urban planning, afferent to different departments and sectors. Although this situation implies a relatively high complexity of the system, however, there is a tendency to integrate the skills and act so as to involve the multiple stakeholders from the different sectors of Energy, Environment and Spatial Planning / Urban Planning / Public Works.
The Regional Operative Programme 2014-2020 of Calabria, infact, dedicates an entire section to the INTEGRATED APPROACH TO TERRITORIAL DEVELOPMENT.
The Integrated Development Policy of the OP is guided by two principles:
- to make sectorial policies more responsive to the needs and potentials of the different types of territories;
- to support the integration of sectorial instruments in order to provide more effective answers to economic, social and environmental challenges that territories face.
This Policy, which combines different Funds in integrated packages, built on the specific needs of homogeneous local contexts, is related with two types of territories, Cities and Internal Areas, already identified as strategic priorities in the Partner Agreement.
These types of areas show different tendencies, needs and potentials which require different strategies of intervention.
In relation to this, the Region desgined three Strategies to be deployed through the instrument of Integrated Territorial Investments (ITI).
Sustainable Urban Development Strategy for the main urban areas of the Region –
Cosenza-Rende, Catanzaro e Reggio Calabria
The main urban areas, even in a marginal productive context as the Calabrian one, are the engines of the regional economy and concentrate within them the main functions and services for the regional area. At the same time, these are the areas with the main problems of poverty, unconfortable living conditions and social exclusion.
The most evident signal of these fenomena is the presence of marginal neighbourhoods, characterised by critical and persistent issues in relation to the provision and quality of base services and affected by social distress. Based on this, action will be focused on the them of urban regeneration with the aim to enhance living conditions, energy efficiency in the public estate and services for social inclusion. The Programme will act in these areas as provided by art. 7 of the ERDF Regulations.
Sustainable Urban Development Strategy for smaller urban areas –
harbour cities and regional service hubs
This Strategie aim at strenghening the other two provincial capitals, Crotone and Vibo Valentia, the urban system of Corigliano-Rossano, the city of Lamezia Terme and the Harbour City of Gioia Tauro (including Gioia Tauro, Rosarno e San Ferdinando).
These areas are characterised by economic, social and environmental issues which require: on one hand urban regeneration actions, as for the main urban areas of the region, and on the other, actions aiming to strengthen the productivity and the attractiveness capacity.
Strategy for Internal Areas
The Calabrian territory is largely made by Internal Areas. During years, a big part of these areas has been affected by a strong reduction of the residential population and has been subject to a gradual process of marginalization. These areas are central for the provision of environmental goods and services, for local food chains and for the production of renewable energy. The Region aims at supporting these areas through actions which improve the essential services and promote the economic development through the valorization of existing potential.