giovedì 19 giugno 2008

Local Economy

Local development is based on growth processes not only in economic parameters, but primary in those parameters related to the quality of life of local communities through positive relations among endogenous resources (human, environmental, economic resources): in particular, various forms of richness deriving from such a process must remain within the territory rather than dispersed away. In addition, local development cannot be linked to activities generating impacts only in one economic sector but they must contribute to the development of an area as a whole. When travelling in many rural areas in Italy I often realize that these rather obvious concepts are absent in the decision making processes and however not well understood causing a continuing erosion in the territorial resource base and an extreme weakness of the initiatives locally made and locally operating. A normative confusion, an ossified bureaucracy, inefficient and incompetent local administrations, difficulties to access to credit, strong competitive pushes among different groups, individualism and apathy make the starting up of new activities extremely difficult and sometimes impossible. Notably, a scarce or the lack of a development culture in many local administrators (confusing often a village festival with a real territorial promotion, or confusing folklore with tradition and so on) may waste a large amount of financial resources in very expansive and low or zero and even negative impact actions. A real local development requires sound ethic foundations and cannot be achieved without a deep culture and awareness of the territory as a network of environmental, cultural and economic resources. It requires also a participatory approach in decision making processes, competent and efficient local institutions, transparency in procedures and above all a strong feeling of cooperation and solidarity among local agents. Frequently positive models may be activated by few motivated individuals who may trigger innovative processes and “domino effects”. For example buying local products, usually vegetables and food products rarely available in supermarkets because small scale productions, implies, together with a reduction in transportation costs and in pollution emissions, a reconstruction of the linkages between food producers and food consumers. In addition the euros spent in local products may re-circulate within the same local community. These circuits may also stimulate the development of local enterprises in handicraft, small scale industries, services, small restaurants and local tourism. So we cannot wait for a "miracle" from the above or for the others' intervention. An effective local development strategy thus doesn’t mean the selling of villages and territories to the best offer, but a valorisation of present and tacit potentials of local systems and the richness of the peculiarities and specificities of rural areas also on the base of our personal direct involvement and committment.

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