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July 3, 2012 / landscapeiskingston

Rio+20 conference – Green Innovation in Tourism – “Slow Tourism” in Ferrara


Rio+20 conference – ‘Green Innovation in Tourism’

The tourism sector – including waterways related tourism – has become one of the world’s most prominent drivers of economic progress and development. The rate of growth, the links to other sectors and the dependence on an intact natural environment puts the sector in a unique position from a sustainable development perspective. Tourism has also been identified as one of the ten sectors that can lead in the transition to a low carbon and inclusive Green Economy. Shifts in tourism practices can yield major benefits, stimulating change towards greater sustainability within the tourism supply chain and in other sectors. Furthermore, sustainability, and green innovation in particular, play an important role in improving the sector’s resilience, enhancing competitiveness and reducing costs.

Additional benefits include employment generation, improved resource efficiency and biodiversity conservation, which can cut costs and increase competitive advantages for companies and destinations while also enhancing visitor experiences. Recognizing these potential gains, tourism businesses and policy-makers are turning to green innovation to enhance environmental, economic and social performance of the sector. Innovation in tourism revolves around problem solving, value adding and/or identifying more efficient ways of delivering goods and services. 

Waterways Forward partners Provincia di Ferrara are involved in ‘Slow Tourism  – a project part financed by the Italia-Slovenia 2007-2013 Cross border Cooperation Programme.  Provincia Ferrara is currently organizing an educational tour for Italian and Slovenian travel agencies scheduled for September / October 2012. This activity will start a mutual exchange of opinions and experiences, that will eventually promote the entire project area, particularly the slow points and routes, that are currently being implemented through the project.   Included in the schedule is a bicycle ride around Comacchio center, visit of the Manifattura dei Marinati, Valli di Comacchio and Valle Foce.

During the Waterways Forward Partners’ meeting in Milan/Ferrara in September 2010 the Landscape Interface Studio team from Kingston University was invited to take a tour of the Po Delta.

From its source, the springs at Pian del Rei, the river travels West for some 615km collecting the waters of the country’s largest catchment area.  Upon meeting the sea, where the river’s waters slow, a brackish delta of distinct natural and cultural value discharges 42.6 billion cubic meters into the Adriatic annually. Located to the South of this aqueous landscapes rests the town of Commachio.  Sited upon 13 isles that are navigable by a network of canals, bridges and cobbled embankments, this outpost sits in a landscape without a “firm place in time and space”.1

Travelling South from Commachio today, only a small fraction of the “valleys” or marshland depressions that once existed can now be found.  Although the ecological potency of this environment has been dramatically weakened as a result of historic transformations, natural riches still exist.  While flamingos fly overhead, eels are caught below the water’s surface, preserved and tinned in time for the annual Eel Festival . In 1999 the importance of this environment as an “outstanding planned cultural landscape” was formally recognised.  An extension to Ferrara’s existing World Heritage inscription now finds the Po Delta recognised alongside the historic city.

1. Touring Club Italiano. The Po River. Milano: Touring Club Italiano, 2008.


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