We The Italians | Italian Good News: GreenItaly 2017

Italian Good News: GreenItaly 2017

Italian Good News: GreenItaly 2017

  • WTI Magazine #97 Nov 18, 2017
  • 46

The green economy is a formidable factor of competitiveness and has been, in these difficult years, the best response to the crisis, a road that looks ahead and faces the challenges of the future by crossing the deep nature of our economy: the drive for quality and beauty, social cohesion, natural allies of the efficient use of energy and matter, innovation and high-tech.

A courageous and successful "bottom-up" evolution of the system, which is based on investments and produces work, sustains the cohesion of communities and intertwines with the territory. This is demonstrated by the figures of GreenItaly 2017, the eighth report of Fondazione Symbola and Unioncamere, promoted in collaboration with the Conai, under the patronage of the Ministry of the Environment and with the contribution of Ecopneus.

The report measures and weighs the strength of the national green economy: more than one in four companies since the beginning of the crisis have bet on the green economy, which in Italy means more research, innovation, design, quality and beauty. In fact, 355,000 Italian companies, or 27.1% of the total of industry and services have invested or will invest in green technologies since 2011 to reduce environmental impact, save energy and reduce CO2 emissions.  This share rises to 33.8% in the manufacturing industry, where the green orientation is confirmed as a strategic driver for Made in Italy, translating into greater competitiveness, growth in exports, turnover and employment. And this year there has been a real acceleration in the propensity of companies to invest green: as many as 209,000 companies have invested in sustainability and efficiency, or will do so by the end of the year, with a share of 15.9% of the total, which has exceeded 2011 levels by 1.6 percentage points.

Our green economy already has created 2 million 972 thousand green jobs, i.e. employees who apply "green" skills. This corresponds to 13.1% of total national employment, which is expected to increase further by December. In fact, 320 thousand green jobs will arrive this year from our "green" economy, and considering also the hires for which green skills are required, an additional 863 thousand jobs will be added. Together with employment, the green economy also creates wealth: the almost 3 million Italian green jobs contribute to the formation of 195.8 billion euros in value added, equal to 13.1% of the total.

The competitive and innovative leap made by companies thanks to the green economy also draws strength from the strong combination of "green-R&D", because, for example, the medium-sized industrial companies that will invest this year in research and development are 27% of those that focus on eco-efficiency, while only 18% among others.

This figure is confirmed by the data on green jobs (energy engineers or organic farmers, rather than green purchasing experts, mechatronic technicians or installers of low-impact thermal systems, etc.): in the area of design and research and development, green jobs represent 60% of the expected hiring for 2017. This is a theme that links in two ways with the National Plan of Enterprise 4.0, that is the public commitment of the government to support the fourth industrial revolution. Indeed, many of the technologies mentioned in the Plan address the needs of companies to reduce energy and/or environmental impacts rather than making processes more efficient (e.g. by reducing waste and reusing materials). It is no coincidence that medium-sized industrial companies investing in the green sector are much more aware of the other measures contained in the Plan (two thirds, against half of non green investors).

GreenItaly 2017 tells us that the green economy is an effective lever for development, a production paradigm that is increasingly strong and widespread in the country. In terms of companies, which are making increasing numbers of green choices. And in terms of results, in budgets, in employment. A model that cares about the growth of communities and the quality of life in the territories. 69% of medium-sized green enterprises are committed to supporting the development of their own territory, while among non-green enterprises this percentage drops to 36%.

Green companies are protagonists of research and export

The Italian "green" companies are more inclined to invest in research: in 2017 the spread of the research and development division among medium manufacturing companies that have invested in green products and technologies in the three-year period 2014-2016 is 27%, compared to 18% of non-investors.

Research and development support the results in terms of turnover and exports. In 2016, medium-sized manufacturing companies investing green had a much higher dynamism on foreign markets than the rest of companies: they increased their exports in 49% of cases, compared to 33% of those not investing green. Driven by exports and innovation, turnover increased between 2015 and 2016 in 58% of companies investing green, compared to 53% of others. And for this year they expect to have a 57% increase in turnover of green companies compared to 53% of the others.

The green economy is good for employment

There are 318,010 green jobs planned by the Italian companies for 2017. Those required by green jobs, although so important and of growing interest to our production system, are skills that are more difficult to find for companies, for which more experience and a higher level of qualification is required. Aspects which have important implications for training. These jobs are characterized by greater contractual stability: permanent employment is more than 46% in the case of green jobs, when in the rest of the other positions this share drops to just over 30%. In addition to the green jobs in the strict sense, 863 thousand additional green jobs are also required.

European leadership in environmental performance

These companies, including SMEs, have pushed the entire national production system towards European leadership in environmental performance. Leadership that makes the pair with our international primacies in competitiveness, and indeed that contributes to these primacies. Eurostat says that Italian companies, with 256 kg of raw material per million euro produced, not only do much better, using less of it, than the EU average (454 kg), but are ranked second among those of the large EU economies after the British (223 kg), ahead of France (340 kg), Spain (357) and well ahead of Germany (424 kg). From raw material to energy, where there is a similar dynamic: we are second among the European big players, behind only the United Kingdom.

From 16.6 tons of oil equivalent per million euro in 2008, we have increased to 13.7 tons: Great Britain burns 8.3 tons of oil equivalent per million euro, France 14.4 tons, Spain 15 tons and Germany less than 18 tons of oil equivalent per million euro. Placing second after Great Britain is worth more than just a second place: London is an economy in which finance and services play a very important role, while ours is an economy more tied to manufacturing.

Italy is also doing very well in reducing waste. With 41.7 tons per million euro produced (3 less than 2008) we are the most efficient in Europe, again much better than Germany (65.5 tons). And in atmospheric emissions: second among the five major EU economies (101 tons of CO2, latest data available in 2014), behind only France (86.5 tons, in this case favored by nuclear power) and, once again, ahead of Germany (143.2 tons).

According to the latest Eurostat data, Italy is also the European country with the largest increase in packaging sent for recycling from 1998 to 2014 (+4.4 million tons). In 2016 alone, 67.1% of the packaging - steel, aluminum, paper, wood, plastic and glass packaging - put on the market throughout Italy, for a total of 8.2 million tons for recycling. 

In the packaging sector, in fact, more than 50 million tons of waste have been recycled over the last 20 years by CONAI and the Consortia working on this field, contributing to the growth of a sector that currently has 6,000 companies and 155,000 employees and that has continued its positive trend even in times of recession.

Geography of eco-investment

Many green enterprises are in the northern regions, but their presence is widespread throughout the country. Lombardy is the region with the highest number of eco-investing enterprises, with 63,170, followed by Veneto with 35,370 units, Lazio with 30,020 green enterprises, Emilia-Romagna with 29,480 and Tuscany with 29,340. Then we find Piedmont with 24,470, Campania (24,230), Sicily (23,940), Puglia (22,070) and Marche (9,820). At the provincial level, in absolute terms, Milan and Rome lead the ranking clearly detaching the other Italian provinces thanks to the presence, respectively, of 22,300 and 20,700 companies investing in green technologies. Third, fourth and fifth place, with more than 10,000 eco-investing companies are Naples, Turin and Bari.

Where green jobs are most in demand

The first region for absolute number of planned green jobs in the strict sense is Lombardy, where there are 81,620, or just over a quarter of the national total (25.7%), followed by Lazio, with 35,080 hires (11% of the national total), Emilia Romagna with 32,960 green jobs (10.4%), then Veneto at 30,940 and Piedmont with 24,340. We find Campania (17,680), Tuscany (16,470), Puglia (14,300), Sicily (12,250) and Liguria (9,300).

Getting even closer to the territories, the first provinces for absolute number of planned green jobs are the great realities of Milan, with 42,910 hires, and Rome, with 29,480. In third place is Turin, where the demand for green jobs is 15,070 employees, fourth in Naples with 9,670 hires, fifth in Brescia with 9,110 hires.