Hidden Gems

These 10 facts about Italy will astound you



Published: Mon 25 Apr 2022, 11:55 AM

For Italy, tackling the Covid-19 pandemic and the climate crisis represented a significant opportunity to make the economy and society more sustainable, healthier, and therefore more future-proof. It was a fundamental challenge that required the best technological, institutional, political, social and cultural resources. It had to be taken forward without leaving anyone behind, without leaving anyone alone. Europe had accepted this challenge by mobilising significant assets around the themes of cohesion, green transition, digital economy, innovation and by committing to the goal of reducing CO2 emissions to zero by 2050.

Italy can play an essential role in this process, drawing on its strengths, which are often little known. Even for Italians, as recalled by Prime Minister Mario Draghi. The data shown in these ‘selfies’ tells us about records in the circular economy, green economy, and design across all the Made in Italy industry. These records are hidden in the folds of the land. The main protagonists are sometimes pocket-sized multinationals, small and medium enterprises, and talents that Symbola records, narrates and connects through its initiatives, implemented together with many travelling companions. An Italy that makes Italy, active on international markets thanks to its ability to combine competitiveness, the environment and social cohesion, innovation and ancient traditions, empathy and technology, beauty, human capital and communities. A country that, together with Europe, can contribute significantly to “not wasting the crisis” and to building a safer, more civilised, friendlier world. To give new strength to hope in a difficult situation.

1 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS IN THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY

Italy is the European country with the highest recycling rate in total waste. At 79.3 per cent of waste sent for recycling, it accounts for almost twice the EU average (39.2 per cent) and stands higher than the other major European countries: France (55.8 per cent), the United Kingdom (50.5 per cent), Spain (43.5 per cent) and Germany (42.7per cent).

The replacement of secondary raw material in the Italian economy results in an annual saving of 23 million tonnes of oil equivalent and 63 million tonnes of CO2. The country also ranks first among the major EU countries for waste reduction: 43.2 tonnes per million euros produced, while Spain has 48.7, Great Britain 60.8, Germany 59.5, France 74.7 (EU average 78.8).

2 THE LARGEST RENEWABLE ENERGY OPERATOR IS ITALIAN

Enel, with its subsidiary Green Power, is the world’s largest private operator in the renewables sector with 47 GW of managed capacity as of the third quarter of 2020 from wind, solar, geothermal, and hydroelectric plants located in Europe, the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania. Enel is the global leader in the ESG rating by Refinitiv in the ‘Electric Utilities and Independent Power Producers’ sector, out of almost five thousand companies assessed based on sustainability performance. At the same time, in November 2020, it ranked first in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index for the Electric Utilities sector. Due to these choices, it has recently reached a new record in market capitalisation, exceeding 90 billion euros in value, establishing itself as the leading company in the European utility sector.

3 MADE IN ITALY IS GETTING GREENER

More than 430,000 Italian companies in industry and services with employees (31.2 per cent of the total) have invested in green technology and products between 2015 and 2019. A growing value compared to the previous five-year period when 345,000 companies invested (24 per cent of the total). The figure rises for companies managed by under-35s, where the investment rate was 47 per cent. Since 2015, the number of investments has almost tripled: from 7.9 per cent of businesses to 21.5 per cent in 2019 (equivalent to 300 thousand firms). The investments in energy efficiency and renewable sources are in the lead, together with cutting water and waste consumption, followed by reducing pollutants and increasing the use of secondary raw materials. Companies that invest in green technology export, innovate and employ more people.

4 SECOND IN THE EXPORT OF GREEN PRODUCTS

According to a study by the University of Oxford, Italy ranks second in the world as per the Green Complexity Index, behind Germany, thanks to the number of patents registered, low CO2 emissions and strict environmental policies. The index, measuring the ability to export technologically advanced green products, estimates that Italy ranks first in potential development ahead of China, Spain, Germany and France. A confirmation that sustainability represents a strategic asset for the future of Made in Italy and that the country has a key role in both growth and economic competitiveness in the green transition challenge.

5 DESIGN BRINGS STRENGTH TO MADE IN ITALY

Italy has the highest number of design companies with 15.5 per cent of the EU total, followed by Germany (13.6 per cent), France (13.1 per cent), the UK (10.7 per cent) and Spain (3.2 per cent). This record is to be attributed to the strong link between design and Made in Italy. The 34,000 Italian design companies employ 64,551 workers and generate an added value of over 3 billion euros. They contribute up to 14.8 per cent of turnover in the EU. Milan is the capital of design: the city accounts for 18.3 per cent of national added value and 14 per cent of employees.

6 WORLDWIDE YACHTING SPEAKS ITALIAN

In the yachting industry, Italy leads the way in terms of trade balance, with more than $2 billion (2.2), ahead of the United Kingdom (1.5), the Netherlands (1.4), Germany (0.7), and Poland (0.5), and is one of the major exporting countries, being second only to the Netherlands, and ahead of the United Kingdom, the USA, France, and Germany. The Made in Italy yacht industry has a global turnover of 4.78 billion Euros, of which 1.64 billion in the internal market, and 23,510 direct employees.

7 ITALIAN WOOD FURNITURE LEADING THE WAY IN CIRCULAR ECONOMY AND EXPORTS

Italian wood furniture industry is first in Europe for the circular economy: 93 per cent of particle board produced in Italy is made of recycled wood. Belgium follows with 84 per cent, Denmark with 60 per cent, Germany with 59 per cent and France with 50 per cent. Italy produces less climate-changing emissions than other major EU countries: 26 kg of CO2 equivalent per thousand euros of production, compared to 43 in Germany, 49 in France, 79 in the UK and over 200 in Spain. At nearly $10 billion ($9.8 billion), Italy ranks third in the world for trade balance in furniture: only China ($96 billion) and Poland ($11 billion) have a higher balance, while Germany (-$3.2 billion), the UK (-$7.6 billion) and France (-$7.8 billion) have negative balances.

8 ITALIAN AGRICULTURE TAKES THE LEAD IN EUROPE FOR SUSTAINABILITY

Italian agriculture is one of the most sustainable in Europe, with emissions of 30 million tons of CO2 equivalent. The sector has cut pesticide use by 20 per cent (2011-2018), and where other countries have seen growth (France and Germany), it has increased use and production of renewable energy and reduced water consumption. The sector boasts 305 PDO/PGI products acknowledged at the EU level and 524 PDO/PGI wines, 5155 traditional regional products and the highest number of organic farms. In 2020, the agro-food sector set a record in exports with a value of 46.1 billion (+1.8 per cent compared to 2019). Italy has the highest number of young people in the EU (more than 56,000 under-35s run farms) and women in agriculture (one in four — the 28 per cent — is run by women: almost 210,000 entrepreneurs).

9 PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY: PRODUCTION LEADER IN EUROPE, THANKS TO GROWING EXPORTS

Italy maintains a leading role in Europe for pharmaceutical production, with 32.2 billion euros (2018), just behind Germany with 32.9 billion euros, followed by France (23.2), the United Kingdom and Spain, with a growing value of 34 billion euros in 2019. Another reason for this is the growth in exports, which between 2009 and 2019 rose by 168 per cent, almost twice the EU 28 average (+86 per cent) and more than the other European big players (Germany +72 per cent, Spain +51 per cent, France +31 per cent and the United Kingdom +11 per cent). Over the last ten years, the sector has cut energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent.

10 ITALY IS EUROPE’S LEADING BICYCLE EXPORTER

Italy is the leading European exporter of bicycles for a total value of 609 million euros and a 15.2 per cent growth over the previous year; we sell 1,776,300 bikes to foreign countries (2019), more than Portugal (1,537,046), the Netherlands (1,276,834), Germany (945,450) and Romania (903,591).

Italy accounts for 16.6 per cent of total European exports. The country ranks first for saddle exports, 53.9 per cent of the total worldwide. The bicycle industry counts 3,128 companies and generates a turnover of 1.03 billion euros. A major contribution to sustainable mobility.


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