Think Globally, Act Locally
Legambiente (League for the Environment) is the most widespread environmental organization in Italy, with 20 Regional branches and more than 115,000 members. It is acknowledged as “association of environmental interest” by the Ministry of the Environment; it represents the UNEP National Committee for Italy, it is one of the leading member of EEB (“European Environmental Bureau”) the Federation of European environmental organization, and of IUCN – the World Conservation Union. The headquarter is in Rome, with a staff made up of fifty professionals and experts on different fields of activity.
The processes of globalization which we have been confronted with in the past years have led to the inevitable consequence that an association as is Legambiente, traditionally involved in campaigns, in fighting and taking action with regard to issues on Italian territory, had to draw attention to and towards a more global and international dimension.
The issues developed from Seattle, examined in the Forum of Porto Alegre, Genoa and Florence have in fact represented a turning point from which those associations whose ambitions are creating a better world for everyone, must confront themselves with. Unless, that is, they accept being relegated to offering shire witness.
Legambiente therefore participates actively to the movement that involves many hundreds of NGOs around the world, having different priorities but following pacific, non violent and democratic methods. Associations which operate in the fields of international cooperation, of environmental protection, of the valorization of citizen’s rights, of the full recognition of the dignity of labor, that promote alternative and fairer economic models, forms of multiethnic coexistence and intercultural exchange, of peace commitment and fight against injustices. Thus Legambiente had decided to enforce and invest on the international field, and has decided in the past year on creating an International Department, to which all initiatives and sectors until then involved have flown: ranging from international cooperation, participation to the anti-global movement, international voluntary service, to the creation of a network of relations to other international realities.
The key words that characterizes our activities are the following:
Think Globally, Act Locally: we try to make people understand that it is by making local changes that we can create a better environment for everyone on a global scale;
Scientific Environmentalism: our every initiative to safeguard the environment is carried out on the basis of accurate scientific data. Every time we say ‘no’ to something that may be environmentally hazardous, we suggest a concrete and practical environmentally sound alternative;
Priority-attention to the problems deriving from environment and urban degradation, to energy issues and the development of the renewable energy sources and to the links between economy and the environment;
Strong involvement in international action against the neo-liberal policies of the globalization of today. We are taking action in order to fight the iniquity in access to resources, an ethical trade and, with our campaign “Clima e povertà” (Climate and poverty), we focus on the link between climate change and increase of poverty;
Constant interest in educating people on environmental issues;
Original and innovative approach to the issue of economy and employment. Our aim is to promote and enhance the large variety of production activities (local typical products, cultural heritage, technical innovation and urban and land maintenance) that are able to improve the quality of environment and give more competitiveness to Italy.
A strong involvement in the issues of nature conservation and to the policy of protected areas.Parks and reserve areas must be the first example of a economic and touristic sustainable and balanced development.
Legambiente is also active in the field of International Co-operation to Development, implementing development and socio-environmental projects, aimed at facilitating measures in the Third World and in Eastern Europe that safeguard ecosystems, offer experiences of concrete and sustainable development, and highlight the value of local human resources. Furthermore, the International Co-operation office of Legambiente promotes and supports initiatives of solidarity and linked to “emergency” situations.
Legambiente’s initiatives in the field of co-operation to development started in 1994 with the project “Ecoscambio”, implemented in Brazil, and have been growing quickly. We have built contacts, links and alliances, and we are carrying out projects to support local processes of eco-development. Such activities, realized in conjunction with other associations, non-governmental organizations, local entities, universities and research institutes and in collaboration with other branches of Legambiente (such as the network “Legambiente Solidarity”, the National Civil Protection, the regional and local branches of the association, etc.), are presently being carried out in the following areas: The Balkans, Latin America and Africa.
Legambiente activities are supported by:
Comitato Scientifico (Scientific Committee) made of more than 200 scientists and technicians;
Istituto di Ricerche Ambiente Italia (Research Institute for Italy’s Environment) that publishes an annual report on Italian environmental conditions;
Osservatorio su Ambiente e Legalità (Observatory for the Environment and the Law) which collects data and information on the connections between illegality and environment degradation. Particularly characteristic is the commitment against the ‘ecomafia’ (a new word coined by Legambiente to indicate all the crimes committed by the Mafia which end up by being somehow environmentally hazardous);
Centri di Azione Giuridica (Legal Action Centres) where people can report territory and environment predatory exploitation;
Centri di Educazione Ambientale (Environment Education Centres) which promote sustainable development, educate pupils and train their teachers to the safeguard of the environment.
Among the most important activities of Legambiente are the information and monitoring national campaigns, which put together the scientific analysis of environmental quality with the public awareness and mobilization to protect the environment:
Goletta Verde (Green Schooner): it is the widest campaign of analysis and information about sea pollution ever promoted and conducted by an environmental organization. Every Summer, since 1986, it has monitored the quality of our seas, for a total number of 5,000 water samples analyzed in a sailing of 10,000 km;
Treno Verde (Green Train): this ‘railway version’ of Goletta Verde started in 1988 and, since then, has monitored over 100 cities, collecting data on air and noise pollution;
Mal’Aria (Sick Air): many people live in areas in which pollution and traffic are major problems. Through this campaign, we try to sensitize municipalities so that they take the right course of action to create a better environment. People hang out white sheets from their balconies and windows to protest. After some days, the sheets grow grey, thus becoming indicators of the rate of air pollution;
Salvalarte (Save the art) : it promotes the safeguard of works of art. It has already analyzed the conditions of over 100 ‘forgotten’ monuments, trying to suggest solutions for their salvage;
Cento Strade per Giocare (A Hundred Streets to Play): it is a day – usually a Sunday in springtime – when boys, girls and children get hold of the streets to celebrate and play, thus cleaning traffic and pollution off the streets for the occasion. The 2000 edition celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Earth Day; Puliamo il Mondo (Clean up the World): the well-known campaign born in Australia is a day for volunteers to clean up the environment of empty bottles, garbage, etc. In the 2000 edition more than 400,000 persons was involved in the cleaning of more than 3,500 sites in 1,300 municipalities;
Spiagge Pulite (Clean up Beaches): a day to clean up our beaches and to celebrate the World Environment Day in Italy, but also an international event organized
and coordinated by Legambiente: Clean-Up the Med Sea Action, a three days cleaning up of
our beaches in all the Mediterranean Basin: in more than 20 countries
involved, more than 100 organizations among which municipalities,
ecologically sensitive hotel chains, schools, universities.
Volontariambiente (Volunteers for the Environment): every summer, thousands of volunteers and children spend ‘ecological’ holidays committing themselves to safeguard and improve the environment.
We also publish a series of magazines for our members. Whether you are an adult, a boy or a girl, a classroom or a teacher, you will receive a magazine which is designed especially for you (La Nuova Ecologia/adults, Legambiente Ragazzi and La Nuova Ecologia Junior/boys, girls and pupils, Formazione Ambiente/teachers). We also have a Documentation Centre Legambiente is the most widespread environmental organization in Italy, with 20 Regional (Centro di Documentazione), where you can find hundreds of books, magazines, reports and documents about the environment and/or our initiatives.
Climate and poverty, a different world is possible
The following aims are ambitious but can be reached to contribute to the drastic reduction of the number of people who suffer from hunger in the world: to reduce by 6.5% the emissions of carbon dioxide, to destine 0.7% of the GNP to programs of cooperation and development, to reduce by 50% in the next 20 years the dependence of our energy system on oil.
In order to obtain a different world we must act against climate change and underdevelopment. Legambiente’s campaign Clima e Povertà (Climate and Poverty) focusing on the strong link between climate risk and poverty intends to call the rich world upon its responsibilities.
Only a small percentage of the emissions of greenhouse gasses comes from the Developing countries. Although their limited responsibility the Developing countries are the main victims of the increase of the Earth’s temperature contributing to phenomena as desertification and the widespread of endemic pathologies as malaria. Moreover, the Climate change in the South of the World increases the poor life conditions suffered by millions of persons already victims of hunger, poverty and illness. For all these reasons stopping the green house effect is a necessary step in the path leading to a better world. In order to achieve this goal all the developed countries must first of all reduce their oil consumes and the usage of fossil energy (the main source of the greenhouse gasses) and transfer to the poorest countries the technological know-how in order to have a truly sustainable development. When this will happen the campaign Climate and poverty will have played its role in achieving a different world.