06 March 2013

The Sense of Territory by Emanuele Plata (Planet Life Economy Foundation)

The Sense of Territory

by Emanuele Plata 
(Planet Life Economy Foundation)

Planet Life Economy Foundation is an ONLUS created by a group of businessmen that, at the end of the 90’s, sensed a deterioration in the entrepreneurial context they had been operating with for around 30 years. The process was especially evident inside  companies, with market reasons being forgotten and finance reasons arising instead. The perception at the time was that a tendency of this kind in the economic system could have devastating consequences on both the environment and the social context and that, in order to stop this vicious cycle, action inside companies and the economic world in general was to be taken.

a view of Lake Maggiore - Italy (Lombardy viewed from Piedmont)

The journey officially began in 2003, when Paolo Ricotti and seven friends of him started the Foundation, giving birth to an original concept and to a series of tools that allowed to understand and face a new model of sustainable economy, defined as  Consciousness Capitalism, able to propose a new paradigm and a New World.


To go into details, the contribution we brought is a result of our summary aptitude, therefore based on many scientific milestones elaborated by Academy and Research. Once selected and transferred to business practice, they become effective in the environmental context without us being ecologists, in the social context without us being experts in the service sector. 

The first point of this argument is that environmental, social and economic SUSTAINABILITY, as defined and accepted by the Brundtland Commission, is a commitment pervading any spatial and temporal activity (the Brundtland Report, also known as Our Common Future, is a document released in 1987 by the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) introducing for the first time the idea of sustainable development: «Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs »).

The lands around Novara (Piedmont - Italy), and their rice fields

The second point is that in order to be respected, this commitment cannot conflict with the profit ambitions of any individual involved in private or public business, and neither with the desire of the public for fulfillment and satisfaction. A COMPATIBLE sustainability is needed.
The third point is that this compatibility can be obtained by reconsidering the IMMATERIAL factor in each transaction and by reducing the MATERIAL factor through benefits of a lower entropy rate, higher social cohesion and higher value.
The fourth point is that the major reference value is ADDED VALUE: once it is set as a company’s goal (be it profit or nonprofit) it modifies the management method.
The fifth point is that the company method must be based on three combined guidelines: human resources, immaterial resources and SUSTAINABLE STRATEGIC POSITIONING.
The sixth point is that these guidelines will have to put BIO-IMITATIVE and PARTICIPATIVE processes into practice.  

The hills around Gattinara (the famous red wine of Piedmont - Italy)

What link does all that have with SENSE and TERRITORY? At first we had no idea, but once the conceptualization was completed it appeared, clear as day, that each point led right to TERRITORY. 

SUSTAINABILITY: the only Italian in the Brundtland Commission was the lamented professor Tiezzi, who stated: “We are in a closed system made of relations”; inside this closed system, namely the Earth, there are relations aimed at reinforcing a perimeter: territory.

Into the Ossola Valley, 
ancient caves of marble, today used as stage for high quality shows and concerts

COMPATIBILITY of profit and satisfaction with life: how do we measure it on an individual scale? In territory.
IMMATERIALITY: where does it come from? From a sediment of energies produced in the course of ages that finds in mankind, in nature and symbols of landscape and in knowledge its wealth: territory.
ADDED VALUE, as a difference between incomes and costs of sold goods, has an accounting individual sense but also a collective sense, not in the abstract key of national and international aggregates but only when linked to a community: territory. 

The main Piazza, at the Sacro Monte of Varallo (Val Sesia - Piedmont - Italy)

STRATEGIC SUSTAINABLE POSITIONING, as a distinctive summary of a competitive offer in the global field, has its uniqueness, not as a denomination of simple traceability but as a whole of excellences in territory.   
BIO-IMITATIVE and PARTICIPATIVE processes, which are inspired by the evolution from small to big, which give back the sense of time, which recognize energies in their own strengths and which allow all those interested to participate in the construction of companies and administrations’ decisions, can be found in territory.   

That is why our Foundation, in order to put its values and concepts into practice, started organizing summer schools called “Valorization of territory and its enterprises thanks to sustainability as a competitive stimulus”. We did not look for administrative territories, instead we saw a series of “popular” territories such as Maremma, Monferrato and Lomellina stepping forward spontaneously. These contexts all connect with a popular notoriety in which a blend of geological, climatic, historical and anthropological peculiarities is found: a sediment that made them become well-identifiable in the course of centuries.

Lake Maggiore, Italy. 
The Borromeo gulf, with the famous islands "Bella", "Madre" and "Superior"

And right from identity comes the first surprise, namely that in a borderless system it is more important and profitable to have strong different identities debating, rather than to see all the realities conforming to a single system.
What a surprise, for all those who stuffed themselves with “globalization”, to realize that all the systems conceived for globalized solutions, meaning concentrations and centralisms, are not sustainable!
For those companies adopting mass strategies of efficiency through acquisitions and outsourcing, it was actually a bad surprise to find themselves at risk of being irreversible and no longer able to be sustainable.
On the contrary it is a good surprise for small and medium enterprises to realize they are the most likely to successfully face the changes imposed by sustainability.

Sky slopes in the Ossola Valley, Piedmont - Italy

Here is why Italy, with its territories and its small and medium enterprises, has an extraordinary potential, not only in the renown - but neglected - tourist sector, but also in business, if the VALUES of sustainability are applied. 

From the experiences in its various territories of work, including the new ones of Ossola and Verbano, Lodigiano, Montefeltro, Asiago Plateau and valley of Belice, PLEF realized that many structures and infrastructures are already potentially active in local valorization. But cooperation, meaning saving time and money by promoting reciprocal synergy instead of competition, is not the only and most effective solution: most of all we need to throw light on the possibility to share a single view and to express the strategic positioning of TERRITORY. We know from experience that, with a little help, we can successfully reach this goal. 

The Ossola Valley, Piedmont - Italy

PLEF is ready to realize all that, and it is fascinated by the benefits that can result from a sharing of knowledge. Since we are also aware of the sense of urgency, we are ready to connect with bodies able to both act locally and work in a cooperative and functional frame of mind, so as to obtain a change of direction. It does not matter whether the tool is green economy, blue economy, enterprise start-ups or innovation and smart opportunities, as long as the VIEW is carefully and constantly cultivated.
Our friends of the Landscape Observatory state that the care we take of landscape expresses the care we take of ourselves and vice versa; careless or worse neglectful models lead even the most respectful pedestrian to throw a rock in the broken window; if that is true, let’s take care of ourselves first of all, by adopting successful methods and approaches: never isolate, never set aside, never consign to oblivion, always remain in the present and think about the future without forgetting the past.

Emanuele Plata
Milano, 21st  Feb 2013 

(traduzione dall' originale in italiano di Penelope Mirotti)

Read also (in the original text) on: Taccuini Internazionali, with pre-face and post-face by Enrico Mercatali,
The photos are about the territory of Lake Maggiore-Vergante-Ossola and Novara lands, in Northern-West of Italy.

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