Nature Restoration Law: A Regulatory and Strategic Framework

22 May 2024

The INU, National Institute of Urban Planning, expresses concern over the lack of support from the Italian government for the European Union’s proposed Nature Restoration Law. The Institute views it as a regulatory and strategic framework.

“The lack of support from the Italian government for the European Union’s proposed Nature Restoration Law cannot be shared by urban planners and territorial planners,” begins the INU’s statement.

“Urban and territorial planning in Italian cities, metropolitan cities, provinces, and regions is fully committed to the process of ecological and digital transition with the aim of creating intelligent and sustainable territories to combat climate change and increase competitiveness in the global economy. In this scenario, the law provides a regulatory and strategic framework that uniformly and coherently directs initiatives at different levels of territorial governance, which would otherwise risk remaining episodic and fragmented, losing much of their effectiveness.”

“The law consolidates and institutionalizes practices and knowledge developed experimentally that follow the paradigm of working in harmony with nature, an approach rooted in a long tradition of international urban planning that can be traced back to masters such as Geddes and McHarg, and in our country, continued by Salzano, Campos Venuti, Magnaghi, and currently fostered by a multitude of active INU members. Restoring natural environments, especially within metropolises, conurbations, and generally in anthropized areas, is essential to sustainably combat air, water, and soil pollution, to mitigate natural hazards with approaches aware of the complexity of biotic processes, to strengthen biodiversity, which is functional not only to the diversity of living species but also to make the living environment healthier—combating, for instance, heat islands and, more broadly, providing a wide range of ecosystem services.”

“If the opposition to the law stems from the fear of its radical and dogmatic application, it is necessary to overcome this obstacle with the awareness that planning itself will be capable of adapting to local conditions and establishing processes and paths for a progressive implementation in the complexity of real contexts, always seeking to harmonize interests and find positive-sum solutions that can satisfy all involved stakeholders. This suspicion is fueled by the translation of ‘restoration‘ with the term ‘ripristino‘, which has a completely different meaning from ‘restauro,’ evoking a mythical and impossible return to origins rather than a realistic assessment of what can be concretely recovered in the changed environmental and historical conditions.”

“INU will continue to ask its members to work on perfecting theories, techniques, and practices aimed at restoring rivers and watercourses to their permeable soil environments, flora, and fauna; repopulating peri-urban wastelands with woods and forests; depaving impermeable soils; promoting sustainable urban drainage; and designing green and blue infrastructures. The widespread knowledge of the benefits of this line of work and the ability to verify the practical effects with concrete experimental realizations can be the most effective support we can offer for the advancement of the law.”