Italy seeks EUR 40 billion for flood prevention

 
By David Singh

GENEVA, 18 December 2012 - The Italian Government is urgently seeking EUR 40 billion over the next 15 years for flood prevention following a week of heavy rains that began on 10 November in the north and then wreaked havoc in Umbria and Tuscany in central Italy.

Italy's Environment Minister, Corrado Clini, recently presented a proposal to the country's Inter-Ministerial Committee for Economic Planning (CIPE) on combating hydro-meteorological risks linked to climate change. The plan includes measures to adapt infrastructure for water management including drains and collection systems.

This plan will also provide for the review of land use, because "in the face of climate change we have to envisage a situation where it is no longer productive to authorize settlements in vulnerable areas. A national fund is already on the cards for "the safety of the area" for the next 15 years. "It's important that it is stable. If we have EUR 1 -- 1.5 million every year for 15 years, it would be a great result," Clini stated.

Helena Molin Valdes, UNISDR's Chief of Advocacy and Outreach, has also urged governments to invest much more in anticipating, reducing and transferring the different levels of known and emerging risks. "Strengthening risk governance capacities is an absolute must if contemporary societies are to reduce risks that can be reduced, transfer those that cannot, and anticipate and prepare for emerging and realistic threats that cannot be easily identified or measured", she stated.

The November storms battered ancient towns and left large swathes of farmland in Tuscany under water, prompting the region's governor, Enrico Rossi, to state that "climate change is making us get used to ever more violent flooding".

Leading Italian meteorologist Mario Giuliacci said: "The Mediterranean has warmed up by 1°C to 1.5°C in the last 20 years. An average of 80 mm [8 cm] of rain should fall in Italy in November. In the last 40 years it has gone over 100 mm [10 cm] 11 times, seven of which are since 1999."

"Despite being a particularly fragile territory, Italy has built too much, especially in areas at high risk of flooding and landslides. said Ilaria Borletti Buitoni, President of the Fund for Italian Environment (FAI). "Italy urgently needs to consider territorial security as a priority. Some 50 percent of our country is at hydro geological risk, therefore it is necessary to intervene immediately with a nationwide project of safety measures," Buitoni said.

The heavy rains in November started in the north and moved to Umbria in the centre of the country. In neighboring Tuscany around 200 people were evacuated from their homes after nearly 30 cm of rain fell in just four hours, sweeping away vineyards and olive groves. Damage to thousands of acres of farmland may cost up to EUR 100 million said farmers' lobby Coldiretti. Floods also forced part of the country's main north-south highway between the Lazio and Umbria regions to close.
The United Nations General Assembly requested UNISDR to facilitate the development of a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction The United Nations General Assembly requested UNISDR to facilitate the development of a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction.
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