At Festivaletteratura we have long been committed to raising public awareness about the environment and its protection.
In 2011 we started the Consapevolezza Verde (Green Awareness) project, which ensured a more formal and widespread presence of themes and protagonists focused on the ecology debate in our programme. Since then, further meetings have inspired concrete initiatives aimed at decreasing the festival’s ecological impact and the development of an agenda that harmonizes organizational needs and environmental sustainability.
Over the years, thanks to meetings, lectures, interviews and workshops with scientists, politicians, activists, storytellers and science journalists (Naomi Klein, Jonathan Safran Foer, Vandana Shiva, Stefano Mancuso, to name but a few) we wanted to turn the public’s attention to the importance of the environment and its protection and contribute to the development of a collective ecological intelligence. A debate that, thanks to the recordings kept in the Festivaletteratura
digital archive, we try to nurture throughout the year.
In 2019, at the invitation of the Municipality of Mantua, we joined the Local Urban Group for European project C-change, which aimed to transfer the good practices developed by the Manchester Arts Sustainability Team (MAST) to local groups in the project’s partner cities. The goal was to mobilize the cultural sector with respect to the climate crisis, to achieve a progressive reduction of the sector’s carbon footprint and greater public awareness of the issues surrounding the climate crisis.
Since 2020 we are one of the founders of Arc3a Mantova - Azioni per la resistenza climatica collettiva di cultura e arte (Action for the Collective Climate Resistance of Culture and Art), the new incarnation of the local C-change urban group. This continues the collaborative work started in 2019 and sets new goals for climate action every year, paying particular attention to the training of cultural operators around the question of the climate crisis and the promotion of light mobility among the public.
Thanks to our participation in this project and the advice of the Environment Department of the Municipality of Mantua, we have been calculating our carbon footprint since 2020.
This renewed awareness of the impact of our event gave rise to a strong push to resume all the good practices already in place since 2011 - the year in which we achieved a Zero Waste certification - and to integrate them with new initiatives and challenges. Initiatives that have merged into our Climate Action Plan drawn up for the first time in 2021 and available on our website.
There are several areas of intervention on which we have focused in the plan, but thanks to the work on our carbon footprint we have been able to understand which elements have the greatest impact. This is, as highlighted by the infographic, the travel undertaken by our audiences, something that is echoed in almost all outdoor festivals in Europe.
It’s precisely for this reason we have paid particular attention to experimenting with various initiatives that might reduce this impact.
The primary objective we have set ourselves as a festival in terms of mobility is the promotion and improvement of an articulated system of cycle and pedestrian mobility, supported and integrated by the public transport network.
To promote sustainable mobility among the public, we have worked on several fronts by setting synergies in motion with local stakeholders.
In collaboration with Ride Movi for example, we have devised hubs for bike sharing in conjunction with car parks that provide special rates for attendees of the event.
In collaboration with the Municipality of Mantua we are able to extend the timetables of the shuttles that go to and from the car parks and have created a map, both in digital and paper format, in which the main cycle routes to the city (with travel times), the main car parks with free shuttle service to the historic centre and bike sharing services, are highlighted. The map also contains all information relating to the Ride Movi service and any special rates or deals during the event.
To reduce the impact of travel by authors who are guests at the event, we encourage the use of train travel at the regional and national level, with possible transfer services to and from the most important stations near Mantua (Verona, Parma, Modena and Bologna).
The use of the plane is therefore limited only to international travel and connections with the islands. Furthermore, thanks to our collaboration with the Ferrari Group dealership in Mantua, we employ a fleet of hybrid cars for the transfer of authors to and from stations and airports.
As for initiatives taken to encourage light mobility within the city, we provide authors, journalists and volunteers with bicycles for travel between the event’s venues; thanks to our collaboration with Apam, we also offer a shuttle service from the city centre to the venues that are the most difficult to reach.
On Saturday 9 April 2022, with the help of members, volunteers and friends, we created a new riverside forest in a publicly-owned area on the banks of the river Po in the area of Dosolo.
Over an area of land covering about one hectare, we recreated a typical lower plain woodland, planting over 975 trees, including white and black poplars, oaks, ash trees, elms, alders, and 325 shrubs. Thanks to their flowers and abundant production of berries, the latter will play a useful role in the pollination of insects and wildlife.
This reforestation programme is our committment to reducing our carbon footprint.
We also take part in projects to restore the Po. In the absence of active
intervention, the restoration of the Po river habitat would have required a long time to take place naturally and would have had an uncertain outcome due to the hydrogeological and ecological modifications carried out on the Po.
Thanks to this forest we will be able to enjoy various environmental benefits, including a progressive absorption of CO2. Based on the scientific data currently available, it is estimated that between 300 and 400 tonnes of CO2 will be sequestered from the atmosphere and absorbed by the wood and soil.
All this would not have been possible without the support of the Cariverona Foundation and Reflexx Spa, and without the work and attention of the Consorzio Forestale Legno-Ambiente (Wood-Environment Forestry Consortium), whose Deputy Chairman, Francesco Mattioli, gave us a gift of 200 small oak trees.
Also, since spring this year we are partners of the European Festival Forest. Festivaletteratura is one of the “pioneers” of this ambitious pilot project, which aims to plant a large European festival forest. The forest will be planted in areasof Iceland that have been freed of ice because of melting glaciers. The project is a collaboration with Skógræktin, the Icelandic forest service, and some of the most
important European festivals.
Since the spring of 2022 we have also partnered with the Municipality of Mantua in the realization of the “Mantova Hub” project aimed at the recovery and upgrade of the large urban area called “Fiera-Catena - S. Nicolò - Valletta Valsecchi”.
In this context, and more specifically in the new urban park of Valletta Valsecchi, we are committed to renovating and regenerating the access area; repopulating some of the areas destined to become an urban oasis; using the spaces inside the new park for some of the events scheduled for the next edition.
Arianna Tonelli, after an experience in the Marketing Department of the Royal Opera House in London, in 2002 he joined the Organizing Secretariat of Festivaletteratura to deal with sponsorships. Since 2010 he has been responsible for the Green Awareness project within the program of the event and from 2019 his role as Environmental Sustainability Manager of the festival has been formalized. In 2022 he obtained the certification of the Carbon Literacy Project for his Course in Climate Literacy for Culture, the first course to be developed in Italy with the Anglo-Saxon methodology recognized by the United Nations as 1 among the 100 Transformative Actions at the COP in Paris in 2015.