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ATLANTIS MAGAZINE is available for iPad! - ATLANTIS

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In this issue

In this issue - ATLANTIS

Gianluca Buccilli, Admiral.


Pietro Calamia, Ambassador.


Mario Caligiuri, Professor.


Domenico Letizia. Journalist.


Eleonora Lorusso, Journalist.


Marta Ottaviani, Journalist.


Tobia Sgnaolin, Reasercher.


Romano Toppan, Professor.












Cover: Ursula Von der Leyen

Cover: Ursula Von der Leyen - ATLANTIS

Ursula von der Leyen’s Biography

Political Carrier:

Since December 2013: 

Federal Minister of Defence

2009 - 2013

Federal Minister of Labor and Social Affairs

Since October 2009

Member of the German Bundestag

2005 - 2009

Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth

March 2003 to November 2005

Minister for Social Affairs, Women, Family Affairs and Health in Lower Saxony

2001 - 1004

Various local political positions in the region of Hanover

Professional and Academic Carrier:

1998 - 2002

Member of the academic staff, Department of Epidemiology, Social Medicine and Health System Research, Hanover Medical School (Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, MHH)


Market analysis, Stanford Health Services Hospital Administration


Auditing guest: Graduate School of Business, Stanford University

1988 - 1992

Assistant physician, Women's Clinic, Hanover Medical School



Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)




State examination and license to practice

1980 - 1987

Studied medicine at Hanover Medical School


London School of Economics

1977 - 1980

Studied economics in Göttingen and Münster

1971 - 1976

Attended grammar school with a special focus on mathematics and science, Lehrte

1964 - 1971

European School of Brussels




Italian Navy toward Space

Italian Navy toward Space - ATLANTIS

 A bit of history

Modern communication, detection and control systems that nowadays make use of satellites have accustomed us to constantly having certain services and technologies available. Such an intense use has become an integral, and sometimes decisive, part of our lives.

Nonetheless, sometimes we do not seem to fully understand the formidable technological progresses made in the last 60 years, nor the fact that in the 1960s Italy was amongst the nations on the forefront of space projects, having been the fourth country in the world (after USA, USSR and Canada), and the first in Europe, to autonomously build, launch, place in the orbit and control an artificial satellite. This amazing achievement was reached by means of ingenuity, technical-industrial capacity and national political will, which were all merged into the San Marco Project, a bilateral collaboration between National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Aerospace Research Center (CRA) of the Sapienza University of Rome, together with the support of National Research Council (CNR) and Italian Air Force.

On December 15, 1964, the launch of the San Marco 1 satellite from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility started the Italian space adventure, representing the first historical result of the above mentioned Project, which would be shortly followed by the construction and commissioning of the world’s first ocean launch platform, located off the coast of Kenya (at a latitude of 002° 54' South).

From this site, on April 27, 1967, the San Marco 2 was launched and it was the first completely autonomous launch of an artificial satellite, carried out by Italy and Europe.

In those years, the Italian Navy, also playing an active part in the Italian missile and space technologies research and development, implemented a “cold-launch” system of ballistic missiles from surface naval units, by which the missile is expelled from its container by compressed air, while its booster (using solid fuel) is activated only when the ejection is completed, in order to avoid damages both to the launching platform and the missile during the ignition phase.

An entirely nationally developed missile, namely the Alfa missile, was also designed, tested and brought to full operational capability. It was the Italian evolution of the US Polaris missile, that was meant to be assigned to the soon to be created Franco-Italian-German nuclear force, which was wrecked by the French President of the Republic De Gaulle, who, following his election in 1959, decided to equip France with an autonomous nuclear arsenal.


The current Italian situation


After the 1960s’ glories, the Italian space base of Malindi, forgotten by Italian politicians, is substantially used only for low profit services, neglecting the high-profit activities, such as launches. The result is that today the country keeps on spending a huge amount of money for its maintenance, much more than those rendered.

Italy, in the meantime, has chosen to pursue the path of international cooperation, tying itself, in particular, to the European Space Agency (ESA)  and to France, another important European space actor, within the context of Ariane Program and Vega launcher.

This choice has led our country to be, at the moment, the main net contributor of ESA, with an investment of about three billion euros per year, without however being able to obtain any significant return under the economic or political point of view. France and Germany (which precede Italy only by a few decimals as gross contributors), on the other hand, have ensured the aforementioned return, the first through the Kourou’s Centre Spatial Guyanais, in the French Guiana, made available to ESA - whose headquarters are  in Paris - and the second with the Darmstadt’s European Space Operations Center (ESOC), where ESA’s satellites are controlled from their launch to their dismissal.

It can therefore be said that, for various reasons, the strategic advantage achieved by our country in the 1960s has now been lost, while other actors have established themselves in the management of space services, and in the consequent acquisition of international funds; thus relegating Italy to the gregarious role of a competent and generous contributor, clearly not that of main contractor, on which the main economic and political returns of space activities fall.


The technical-operational aspects


Before analysing the strategic and economic aspects connected to space use, it is necessary to underline some fundamental technical-operational aspects related to the launch of artificial satellites, which, in general terms, should preferably be placed on equatorial geostationary orbits, allowing a wider coverage of Earth’s surface compared with areas covered by satellite with different orbits, such as polar orbit satellites.

It is no coincidence that satellites on geostationary orbits provide about 80% of the total need for the services requested, which, obviously, makes them strategically more interesting and economically more attractive also from a commercial point of view (for services such as television, communications, data transmission, etc.).

One of the main problems to solve before launching an artificial satellite into the orbit is the definition of the “minimum speed to be imparted to a spacecraft to escape the Earth’s gravitational field”, known as escape velocity. In this regard, it must be considered that, at any point on Earth’s surface, a carrier rocket, at departure and without propulsion, already has a certain speed, due to the effect of Earth’s rotation. While this speed is zero at the poles, it increases proportionally with the latitude’s decrease, reaching its maximum on the equator. For this reason, launching from the equator is extremely advantageous, particularly when the launch is towards the East, as, in this case, Earth’s rotation can be used as a sort of slingshot, providing the missile with a significant additional thrust, which allows either to save fuel or to add payload. For example, in comparison to a launch carried out from the well-known US base of Cape Canaveral (located at 028 ° 30 'North latitude), a launch from the Equator for a geostationary orbit satellite, with the same thrust power, allows to transport between 17 % and 25% additional payload.

After establishing that launch from Equator and towards the East is definitely “energy convenient”, there is a further problem that must be taken into account. It is extremely important to ensure large free spaces in the direction of the launch (i.e. towards east), both to avoid the fall on populated areas of additional tanks and parts of the carrier rocket after their detachment, and to avoid potential damages due to the fall of the missile itself, or of its scraps, in the unfortunate case of an accident during the first phases of its flight. We all remember the terrible images of January 28, 1986, when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after launch, killing the seven astronauts on board, a toll that could have been enormously greater, should a densely populated area have been East of the launch point.

To get an idea of the safety distances, it should be remembered that, at the altitude and speed at which the detachment of the first stage normally occurs, the debris falls about 366 km from the launch point, while, for the second stage, the fall takes place about 1,600 km from it. This means that the (uninhabited) safety zone extends for about 2,000 km east of the launch point This limits the “potential zones” for launching satellites to a few areas in the world. Looking at a map, it can be seen that in the narrow belt around the Equator (where - as said before- the slingshot effect has the maximum effect), areas “open to east”, and therefore useful for launching activities, are definitely much more numerous on the sea rather than on land.

Furthermore, legal aspects are to be taken into account. Launching activity, either from a land base or a platform at sea (within the territorial waters of a coastal State), is subject to legal and administrative constraints that can be summarized with the need for an authorization by the State of jurisdiction, as well as to a clear definition of legal and economic responsibilities, in particular in the event of an accident.

The authorization for the construction of a fixed base in a certain area cannot be granted free of charge, but it is necessarily linked to an economic or political return for the State of jurisdiction, which adds significant expenses and constraints for the users. Moreover, with regards to responsibilities, it should be noted that the “Convention on international liability for damage from space objects” (which entered into force on September 1st, 1972) is now inadequate, as it does not clarify the division of launches’ responsibilities between the State from whose territory or installations a space object has been launched and the country effectively launching the satellite. In this framework, which can be very complex - think, for example, of the hypothetical case of a German satellite, launched from a Russian base, located on Indian territory (or territorial waters) -, it is evident how a possible accident could open long and expensive international controversy on the responsibilities of the various subjects involved and the related compensation for any damages.

In summary, the best possible solution for launching activities relies on an autonomous control base, positioned at the Equator, in international waters and with a sufficient uninhabited space toward the East.


From atomic age to space age - The strategic aspects


While space dimension had already had a military connotation in the past, mainly related to Russia’s and United States’ mutual verification of the effective nuclear weapons’ reduction, in accordance with the strategic agreements in force among the two superpowers, space has assumed over the time an increasing importance, becoming the ultimate frontier of a new race, with the military sector joining the civilian and the scientific sectors.

In this context, the focus, once limited only to remote surveillance and communications, is nowadays on the use of effective geolocation systems and the positioning of discovery equipments to be placed in the orbit, which are indispensable for controlling hypersonic weapons – another game changer in the competition for deterrence – whose role without the support of satellite data would be enormously reduced. For such reason the (relatively) new use of military satellites is increasingly taking on the deterrent connotation that was (and in many ways still is) characteristic of the atomic weapon during the Cold War. 

There is however a profound conceptual difference between the two means. During the nuclear era, in fact, atomic weapon could not prevent countries that possessed it from being hit, but nevertheless it constituted a deterrent because it was still able to ensure, even to those who had suffered the first strike, the destruction of the opponent (as the expression mutual assured destruction effectively indicated). Instead, in the space era, deterrence is given by the ability of the satellite sensors to identify any enemy actions well in advance, ensuring countries possessing them adequate defense and substantial protection from enemy attacks.

Military satellites are therefore the element able to significantly contribute to the modification of world political balance, changing them as fast as the technological progress will make new means and sensors available.

Increasingly complex satellites, capable of monitoring opponents, discovering hostile initiatives and providing real time information, will not only affect characteristics of future military actions but will inevitably modify structure, balances, rules and procedures of the international system, at least as we know it today. Among the consequences of this change there will be the division of the international community into two categories: countries having the capacity to operate in and from space and those that, instead, have not. The first will be able to exploit this condition, mainly in political terms rather than military. Moreover, this will also entail a reassessment of the alliance systems, now in a relative identity crisis, which will fully return to be an instrument of foreign policy.

In this context, any country, or alliance, willing to have a credible defense system, either autonomous or collective, must therefore be able to count on adequate support from space. This does not mean having nuclear weapons in space – an hypothesis that is legally excluded by Treaties, as well as impractical due to the real danger that any atomic explosions in space may have unforeseen consequences, including damage to own satellites – but rather it implies access to advanced means of sighting, detection and control which make an attack increasingly difficult, thus strengthening national security conditions.

In order to maintain this advantage, these satellites need to be protected but, as mentioned, their defense cannot be guaranteed by conventional or nuclear weapons positioned on the Earth's surface. For this reason, the so-called “killer satellites” are being studied, designed to destroy opposing satellites, preferably using laser weapons or atomic particles. “Anti-killer satellites” will be their contrast, to ensure the protection of own satellite systems. Those systems, by the way, may possibly also operate against other types of targets, such as, for example, missiles launched from the Earth’s surface or enemy military installations.

Space, therefore, is fated to become an increasingly crowded place, where strategic interests of the major powers will clash, and any future conflict will necessarily begin with an attempt to “blind” the opponent, eliminating or making unusable its early warning space systems.

In order to address the issue with due seriousness and competence, Italian Armed Forces have promptly reorganized, establishing in 2019 the General Space Office at the Defense Staff, responsible for “space policy”, and in 2020 the Joint Command for Space Operations (COS), in charge of space operational activities.

Also Italian Navy has adopted an ad hoc organizational element, setting up in the same year, within the Navy General Staff, its Space and Technological Innovation Office, responsible for addressing the space sector issues with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, as well as with other branches of Defense and civilian organisations dealing with the matter, in order to provide a real contribution to Defense for “... strengthening cyber and space dimensions, in a vital trinomial with the sea, always more central to everyday dynamics . 

Italian decision to pay due attention to the space dimension follows similar choices of main European countries, as well as Russia (which since 2015 set up a military Space Force), United States (which in 2019 established US Space Command), NATO, which has decided to activate its own Space Command and related Center of Excellence (CoE), and China, which is organizing its military Forces in the same direction.


The economic prospects


Beyond the technical-organizational and strategic-military aspects, the economic prospects of space activity are also worth great attention. While the interest of private individuals in this sector is constantly growing, there is a constant increase also in the number of countries, nowadays about fifty, that have started commercial and scientific exploitation projects of the new frontier, being facilitated by the technological progresses which have led to a significant reduction in the management and operating costs. The single launch of a satellite, for example, which costed around $ 200 million until a decade ago, can currently be carried out at a total cost of around $ 50 million. The forthcoming introduction into service of reusable rockets, already in an advanced state of testing, promises to further reduce overall expenses, which in any case will never be entirely negligible.

In this regard, Limes magazine writes that “ in 2016 this sector investments as a whole amounted to 360 billion dollars, a quarter represented by government spending in various countries and the remainder by private actors. According to Morgan Stanley (2019), the sum of 1.10 trillion dollars will be reached in 2040. Nine countries commit a billion dollars every year and almost 20 have a government expenditure of around 100 million ...”. Furthermore, Gian Carlo Poddighe (CESMAR) underlines how, in the communications satellite sector alone, the need to cyclically replace such devices – due to their obsolescence and the need of replacing them with more modern and performing models –, allows us to talk about a number between “... 90 and 100 launches per year for the launch of over 300 satellites, with a clear tendency towards those defined as “micro launches”, for reduced loads and low orbits…”.

This business is so profitable that as early as 1995 Sea Launch, a multinational consortium created by the Norwegian naval engineering group Kvaerner, the Russian company RSC-Energia, the US Boeing Commercial Space and the Ukrainian NPO-Yuzhnoye, offered paid services for placing commercial loads (mainly geostationary communications satellites) into orbit for international clients.

It is therefore quite understandable the interest shown by many countries, such as France and Germany, in guaranteeing not only possible profits deriving from the aforementioned activity, but also the visibility and political returns that will follow and, above all, the possibility to access substantial international funding related to this endeavour.

In this regard, on January 28, 2021, France managed to place the headquarters of NATO Space Activities Center of Excellence (CoE) in Toulouse, to the detriment of Germany, which had instead proposed the city of Kalkar (North Rhine-Westfalia), where the Joint Air Power Competence Center (JAPCC) is already located, as a team of multinational experts whose task is to provide effective solutions to problems relating to the air and space domain.

Anyway, in  summer 2020 Berlin began to think about having an autonomous space capacity, including a small mobile launch base, which should be built in the North Sea, in order to put into orbit an artificial satellite of still unspecified characteristics in the shortest possible time. As pointed out by Matthias Wacher, president of German industrial association, Germany believes that it is necessary to put its own “footprint” on the matter as soon as possible, in order to influence, more than competitors, future (European) choices. The coordinator of German aerospace policy, Thomas Jarzombek (CDU), provided an institutional backing to the aforementioned statement, inserting the new launch base among start-ups, in order to facilitate its financing through the EU recovery fund tool. German space initiative, therefore, would have above all a political value, and not only a technical or strategic-military one, as the launch of a satellite, even from an high latitude (which is not a fully convenient position in terms of energy and payload), would be a way to accredit its national space capacity and, consequently, secure the European and NATO funds allocated to these activities.

In such scenario, it should be considered that the ability to place satellites in orbit will soon greatly concern also private actors, including, for example, those as Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and others, who, in order to operate efficiently in the space economy, will have a growing need for technical-logistic support, as well as for data and information, and will consequently be ready to pay full market prices for such services.


The idea of Italian Navy: ITS Garibaldi as a launch base


In the described context, the recent Italian Navy’s will to reconfigure ITS Giuseppe Garibaldi aircraft carrier as a launching base for small satellites is very interesting, being an initiative that – if implemented at the end of the preliminary trials, which will end in 2023 – would give our country an autonomous capacity to access space, resulting in great value both on a political and economic level, with additional positive repercussions in terms of technical skills and know-how for the entire national industrial sector.

The availability of a suitable platform for launch and control of small satellites, able to move independently, and with relatively little expense, in a proper position for launching activity (i.e. at the equator, in international waters and with a sufficient uninhabited space towards the East), would actually represent a substantial change in the Italian and European space game which, in addition to shuffling Franco-German cards, could also favour a growing collaboration between the private sector and the Defense, with important returns for both parts.

The use of ITS Garibaldi as a launching base for military and commercial satellites, in other words, would provide a valuable service to Italy, which could also be extended to European Union, NATO and all those potential users who would ask to use it.

The idea is completed by a specific research project, called “SIMONA” (acronym of Sistema Italiano Messa in Orbita da NAve, meaning Italian Ship-based Orbiting System), regarding the development of a launch system with an extraction tube and a missile cold departure before its first hot booster stage is ignited, which Italian Navy has sponsored as part of National Military Research Plan (PNRM) 2019.

In a growing demand for space services, the proposal of the Italian Navy, if realised, would ultimately allow to fill a strategic and economic gap, offering a very valid alternative to fixed installations, definitely more expensive from an economic, logistic-organizational and juridical-administrative point of view.




While space, recently recognized by NATO as the fifth domain for military operations (equivalent now to land, naval, air and cyber domains), guarantees, to those who have the ability to access it, many fundamental services and applications, which are decisive for countries in terms of security and political weight, activities related to the positioning in orbit of satellites and the use of space can be a source of significant economic and technical-industrial returns.

For such reasons, a fundamental geopolitical and strategic game is being played around the space question, from which Italy cannot be excluded. In addition to a proven experience in the field, our country also possesses recognized technical-scientific skills, to which it is possible to add – as a power multiplier – the availability of a naval platform. Such asset not only possesses strong command and control capabilities, but it is, on the one hand, large enough to be used both as a launching base and an assembly unit (thanks to its internal hangar), and, on the other hand, small enough to be managed with relatively low costs (which, in any case, could be, at least in part, offset with the revenues deriving from services offered to third parties).

In the current extremely dynamic and competitive situation, Italy is therefore in an incredibly favorable position, which must be adequately exploited to beat international competitors, as the space sector can represent a precious source of economic, political and technical-industrial growth for the entire country.

In this perspective, it will be essential to play a real and effective team game, recalling that too often our country has been held back by individualisms and parochialisms. It will therefore be necessary to realistically consider and prioritize interests, considering their concreteness and materiality as well as their political, economic, military and industrial implications. It is important to avoid  those limited parochial visions that, due to strategic blindness, or an often misunderstood concept of “competence on the subject”, pursue only partisan interests, primarily, if not exclusively, focusing on funds control, with an attitude that penalizes the whole country, and risks to relegate it to an undeserved figurant role.

In this respect, the Italian Navy’s farsighted initiative, which, as mentioned, proposes to readapt ITS Garibaldi as a sea-based launch platform, would allow our country – if implemented – to have a real national strategic asset, relatively cheap, autonomous and equipped with effective command and control capabilities. In addition to increasing its international prestige, it would significantly help to enhance national security and, if made available to allies and friendly countries, as well as to those organizations which Italy is part of, and also to third parties such as, for example, agencies and private individuals, could generate an important income from the supply of services, producing further benefits for the country, with particular reference to the high-tech industrial, maritime and communications sectors.

It would therefore be an excellent investment, through which Italy could be again part of the small group of countries at the forefront of space projects, of which it was already a full member in the 1960s.

This is one of the main challenges the country has to face, knowing its role in future geopolitical balance will most likely depend on this result.


Evolution and new frontiers of Warfare.

Evolution and new frontiers of Warfare. - ATLANTIS

Evolution and new frontiers of Warfare.

The role of the elites in democracy

 Mario Caligiuri

 To anticipate trends in global scenarios, the indispensable relationship between public and private must be developed through useful in-depth stimuli, enhancing the contributions of the armed forces, intelligence, universities and businesses.

In this context, creativity becomes important, that is, intellectual commitment, indispensable for understanding the extraordinary and very rapid changes of this time.

However, it should be borne in mind that creativity develops more outside than inside Italy, for an obvious reason: ours is not a country for young people and consequently it is not a country for creativity either. And since the context is always fundamental, it should also be noted that, even in this context, there is a national abyss between the North and the South. Now, however, Italy could become a Cyber ​​power even without the need for excessive economic investments. So far we can only record the allocations of the 2016 Finance Law of the Renzi Government, the funding provided for the definition of the national cyber security perimeter (which needs four regulations to be implemented, the drafting of which is not always simple and immediate) and the foreseen funds. in the Defense White Paper.

However, it is important to develop Cyber ​​Education because there is a need for awareness in the use of the Internet, given the high vulnerability of our critical infrastructures, which is 90%, and can reach up to 99% in the case of advanced attacks. Therefore, it is necessary to spread the culture of national security by quickly putting all the public and private resources available to the country into a system.

Numerous and rapid evolutions have occurred in the sector, starting from cyber security to get to Quantum Computing. There is considerable uncertainty, accentuated by legal limits, as huge sums are invested in the world for cyber warfare, second only to investments in armaments: just think that in 2018 these are figures close to 1,800,000 billion dollars. . The Cyber ​​Operations of the States are therefore relevant, just as the Cyber ​​War can be considered the war of the present and the future. In this context, the hybrid conflict is a strategy that combines different elements, starting with the use of all the power factors, legal and illegal, available to the State, within which Intelligence has a decisive function.

All of this brings further complications, because hybrid warfare adds to other forms of conflict without replacing them.

Despite this, there is an arrogant lack of interest in politics, which does not carefully discipline the cybernetic matter, as it probably has not matured the cultural categories to be able to intervene. Therefore, not only the intellectual instruments are lacking, but also the juridical ones. The issue is that states operate within national borders, while global rules seem to be absent or dictated by the strongest actors. And, in both cases, we can run into extreme dangers, especially as Italy is among the last in Europe in cyber defense investments.

Of great interest are the analyzes on the security of Cyberspace contained, starting from 2010, in the Reports that the DIS submits to Parliament every year. Among these, the considerations of 2013 are very interesting, following the issuance of the Monti government decree in which a National Cyber ​​architecture is beginning to be defined. In 2015 a “visionary intelligence” is hypothesized that tries to project itself in the long term, to make them assume an essential predictive function.

In my opinion, in the previous reconstruction there emerges a constant evolution of linguistic terms rather than changes in content: almost a specialized and almost always inevitable re-edition of the Annual Report on the social situation of the Censis Country which every year uses new and imaginative terms to describe what surrounds us.

In fact, it is always difficult to understand reality, because we do not even have the words to describe what is happening, as explained by Arjun Appadurai, who believes that the economic crisis of 2008 stems from a linguistic breakdown. In 2017, DIS was identified as the coordinator of national cybersecurity. From the Report on the Security Information Policy it emerges that cyber threats increase considerably and systematically, and central themes such as 5G and IOT emerge.

Therefore it is essential to guarantee cyber national security, which to define "perimeter" seems a contradiction in terms. In this context, as is known, important functions are assigned to the DIS and to the MISE.

In the background there is the vital question about artificial intelligence which allows undoubted advantages, which however, if not properly managed, could also cause immense damage. Therefore, rather than leaving the decisions affecting the community to the machines, it is necessary to strengthen people's cognitive abilities.

Obviously this is a task of the ruling classes that poses the urgent problem of selecting the public elites, who are required to make choices in the interest of the community.

Today this is the key to the problem. From my point of view, every organization functions in relation to those who manage and represent it. Globalization, by its very nature, requires quick decisions to be made.

In democratic states, public elites are identified through elections and competitions, methods that do not always bring out the most suitable people to fill the relative functions.

According to the scholar Daniel Bell, democratic systems are unsuitable for producing efficient ruling classes and this puts them in difficulty not only in relation to authoritarian states but also to financial multinationals, which dictate global rules in much of the planet, and to criminal organizations. and terrorists, who identify their elites by taking greater account of the criterion of "merit" applied to efficiency, since their survival in their respective organizations depends on their quality.

Ultimately, any kind of politics, understood as a strategy to ensure greater conditions of survival and well-being for the community, needs capable public elites.

The NATO of vaccines” and the geopolitics of healthcare

The NATO of vaccines” and the geopolitics of healthcare - ATLANTIS

The NATO of vaccines” and the geopolitics of healthcare

Eleonora Lorusso

The pandemic has brought back old rifts and new alliances, such as the EU-US Atlantic agreements for the distribution of doses. But Russia and China are not standing by. What role for Europe and Italy?


After the first months of a health emergency, which saw an effort by the scientific community to pool the knowledge, data and studies available to tackle the threat of the Sars-Cov2 virus, now we are experiencing a new phase, that of distribution. and commercialization of anti-Covid vaccines, characterized by increased competition and new global challenges.

Europe (again) at the crossroads

It is not risky to say that geopolitics also passes through health care, so much so that many analysts speak openly of the new "Born of vaccines", of a Cold War climate in which, for example, the US-China clash on duties has been replaced by that on vaccines . On the one hand, there is the Western world, which has Joe Biden's America as the leader in the race for mass vaccinations, which inevitably also requires the production of effective serums; on the other hand, the Asian world, more oriented towards favoring the export of doses rather than internal administration. In the middle, once again, there is Europe which is struggling on the one hand with the difficult balance between the need to procure vaccines for health and economic reasons and on the other with its strategic role in the world order. The Russian "sirens", which pass through the opportunity of having an extra vaccine such as Sputnik V, are contrasted by the US "call", which invokes the historic Atlantic alliance. In this context, the official contacts between the EU and the US are framed on the one hand, in the figures of the EU Commissioner, Thierry Breton, and the head of the US task force, Jeffrey Zients, while on the other hand there remains strong pressure from Moscow, especially on Berlin and the so-called Visegrad countries. Instead, China with its Sinovac is aiming above all at the countries of the African and Middle Eastern continent.

The new "NATO of vaccines"

There is no doubt that Europe, one year after the start of the pandemic, has chosen to supply itself above all with vaccines Made in the USA: this is the case of Pfizer which, despite its German origins, has long been a giant of the Big Pharma branded America and based in New York; but also of Moderna with its headquarters in Cambridge (Massachusetts) and Johnson & Johnson, based in New Jersey. A case is itself represented by AstraZeneca which, despite being Anglo-Swedish, has an important share of production in the United States, so much so that Brussels has urged Washington to allow the export of millions of doses of the vaccine to Europe, asking to unblock shipments of crucial ingredients for production. The confirmation of the choice of field came from the words of the EU Commissioner, Thierry Breton: “The problem with vaccines lies in producing them. And the solution will come from Europe and the US, nowhere else ". Despite the delays in supplies from AstraZeneca, also denounced by the president of the EU Commission, Ursula Von Der Leyen ("Less than 10% of what was agreed"), Breton himself reiterated: "We have decided to work together, because our two continents they are the only ones on the planet who will allow us to get out of this situation ”. The goal is to produce doses of American serums in Europe, thanks to a new transatlantic alliance, which someone has renamed a new "Born of vaccines”.

Russia and China “conquering” new markets

The EU-US agreements, in fact, have the effect of reducing - at least in the short term - the ambitions of China and especially Russia, particularly to commit to marketing their own vaccines. From this point of view, the approval process for Sputnik V in the EU is exemplary. If at the beginning of January a phone call between the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, opened the way for a rapid introduction of Russian serum, with Berlin ready to support Moscow also in the collection of documentation to be presented to the EMA, there was a setback after Joe Biden took office in the White House. However, relations with Russia are also underway in Italy, in particular for production at local factories, confirmed by Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian fund producer of Sputnik, a guest half an hour more on Raitre on 7 March . The president of the Italian-Russian Chamber of Commerce, Vincenzo Trani, also cited "an agreement with the company Adienne Pharma & Biotech for the production of Sputnik V in Italy, signing the first European contract for the local production of the vaccine". Von Der Leyen herself insinuated doubts about the Russian (and Chinese) strategy: "We still wonder why Russia offers millions of doses when it has not yet vaccinated its entire population, this will have to be answered". Nonetheless, in Europe, Sputnik was purchased autonomously first by Hungary, then by the Czech Republic and Slovakia, without waiting for the go-ahead from EMA. The Hungarian premier, Viktor Orban, on the other hand, got vaccinated with the Chinese Sinovac, the same one that Poland got. The Russian serum was also chosen by San Marino and Serbia, but Dmitriev announced his intention to extend the collaboration in the Old Continent, aiming to close "20 collaborations by June”.

China to conquer Asia, Latin America and Africa

In all this, if the Silk Road sees Europe (and Italy in particular) as a leading player, in the game in vaccines, Beijing looks above all to the East and Africa. Sinovac is the most widely distributed product in Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore, East Timor and Malaysia, where Moderna, AstraZeneca and Pfizer are also marginally present. In Africa, the Sinopharm vaccine is the most widespread, except for some countries bordering the Mediterranean such as Tunisia, where Sputnik was purchased, while Latin America sees the presence of both products.

Between the USA, Russia and the hypothesis of a conspiracy: what will Italy do?

The rush to distribute vaccines is underway and also includes cross-accusations of "espionage" and mutual boycott between the US and Russia. The Wall Street Journal, citing sources from the State Department's Global Engagement Center, reported on Russian intelligence activities that, via several online publications in recent months, have questioned the safety and efficacy of Western vaccines. Moscow denies and counterattacks: "There are 'enemies' who make vaccine politics," said Dmitriev. Brussels, in the middle, replied through the EU Commission ("We are no one's enemies"), but on the possibility that individual European states sign contracts with Russia, as in the case of Italian production, the spokesman of Von Der Leyen intervened, Eric Mamer: “We repeat that they can do it, the vaccination campaign is the responsibility of the States”. Ema's chairman of the board, Christa Wirthumer-Hoche, caustically: "Giving emergency authorization to the Sputnik V vaccine is like Russian roulette". In short, the game is always open.


Foreign debts, new international markets and the leading role of agri-food durin

Foreign debts, new international markets and the leading role of agri-food durin - ATLANTIS

Foreign debts, new international markets and the leading role of agri-food during the health emergency

by Domenico Letizia


Foreign markets have undergone profound transformations with the emergence and spread of the health emergency. In the course of 2020, a world volume of 24 trillion in debt has accumulated, which has led the total debt to reach 281 trillion, equal to 355% of global GDP.

The weaker economies have been helped in some way: the IMF has extended ad hoc credit lines providing liquidity for 32.3 billion dollars in 83 countries, of which about 16.7 billion towards Sub-Saharan Africa, about 5.4 billions to Latin America and approximately 3.9 billion to the Middle East and North Africa. Even the member countries of the G20 have moved with the initiative to suspend the debt service and allow the most fragile economies and most affected by the consequences of the shock to reduce the debt at the same value. The recent report published by SACE, the Cassa Depositi e Prestiti company, published the risk map for Italian exporting companies, highlighting problematic destinations, potential danger factors and confirming commercial certainties linked to the Mediterranean and to the growth of the region. Of the 194 countries analyzed in the SACE report, only 22 did the level of risk decrease. 52 countries are stable and 120 are deteriorating. “This deterioration can be found above all in the sovereign component due to the sharp increase in public debt levels”. Of particular concern is Sub-Saharan Africa with the North African and Middle Eastern area, in particular it is Zambia that reported the greatest increase in the risk score. Russia and countries in the area such as Lithuania and Ukraine have benefited from relative stability and fewer restrictions imposed on the economy. For Latin America, in a generally less good context, the rapid succession of elections during the year weighs heavily: Ecuador and El Salvador in February, Peru in April, Mexico in July, Argentina in October and Chile in November. European countries and Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea, China and Vietnam dominate the consumption electrification ranking. In this scenario of uncertainty, explains the SACE dossier, expectations of recovery for 2021 and the following two years are emerging, albeit at less sustained rates than in the past.

The economic and geopolitical context we are experiencing has also triggered new dynamics. Brexit has produced a thousand new prospects for UK foreign trade. Starting January 1, 2021, Brexit has officially entered into force. The UK has left the European Union and is no longer covered by the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and Europe (CETA). To continue to have fruitful relations, the governments of Canada and the United Kingdom have signed a transitional agreement, which will remain in force until a final bilateral trade agreement is reached. This agreement, which together with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), launched and applied until a new trade agreement is reached, keeps alive the commercial conditions already operational between the two nations with CETA. However, some economic changes are clear in the elaboration and definition of a new agreement between Canada and the United Kingdom. On 10 December 2020, the governments of Canada and the United Kingdom signed a transitional agreement to strengthen free trade between the two state entities, called the Trade Continuity Agreement between Canada and the United Kingdom for Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the TCA), which the Government of Canada proposes to implement by signing a Business Continuity Act between Canada and the United Kingdom. The TCA commits the UK and Canada to enter into negotiations on a new trade agreement and to finalize reaching such an agreement within a couple of years. Commercial relations between Canada and the UK remain essentially unchanged after January 1, 2021. Preferential tariffs between the two countries will continue to apply as long as the MOU is in effect. In addition, with regard to a specific aspect of agri-food cooperation, under both the MOU and the TCA, UK cheese exports to Canada will continue to be handled under the capacity and commercial share of cheese of the United Kingdom. Europe, until December 31, 2023.

Some recent analyzes elaborated by the Commonwealth Organization show that investments and foreign exchanges between the various members are experiencing difficulties due to the lack of a common system for resolving legal disputes and the inactive debate among the members of the business community of the 'organization. Numerous common capacities for economic growth remain inactive as most of the small and medium-sized enterprises in the community do not undertake initiatives to spread to international markets. One of the obstacles to international trade is caused by the uncertainty of resolving legal disputes. International commercial arbitration is a tool that companies can already use as is the case in the maritime sector and in that related to the exchange of raw materials. The problem highlighted by Commonwealth experts concerns more than half of the countries adhering to the international organization that do not have adequate legal and economic structures and a smaller number of states do not have a legislative framework that contemplates commercial arbitration. Experts highlight specific solutions with calls for action and accession to the New York Convention on Foreign Arbitration Awards with the adoption of a modern arbitration law that is linked to the model established by the United Nations Commission for International Commercial Law . The problem highlighted by Commonwealth experts is represented by 30% of the organization's member states that do not adhere to the Convention. The expert analysis reports: "Countries that have not signed up to these hallmarks with modern and effective international arbitration risk losing countless foreign direct investments, considerable commercial losses caused by the lack of a modern dispute resolution regime made available and enforceable. in favor of the business community and business leaders ". Due to the countless and diversified economic profiles of the countries adhering to the Commonwealth Organization, the strategic choices of export and environmental protection are not always integrated and aligned. Resource exporters such as Canada, Australia, most of the Caribbean and African countries are economically but not legally linked to countries such as the United Kingdom and India.

The European Union is working to ensure that European states do not precede the signing of single key agreements with the United Kingdom, presenting a common strategy of action and commercial rules shared by the entire Union. Topics that deserve attention and correct communication. Meanwhile, the UK is moving to strengthen trade relations outside the European context and enhance synergies with the Commonwealth. In September, the UK concluded its first major independent trade deal with Japan. Further access to the foreign market took place under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which aims to provide UK companies with a gateway to the Asia and Pacific region. and help increase the resilience and diversity of the offer. In addition, the United Kingdom is also trying to get closer to the United States, although this has raised fears about the lowering of food safety standards and logic related to sustainability. In the European context close to the UK, Brexit and Mercosur are the main concerns for Irish farmers. Instead, in relation to the policies of the Mediterranean, the quality and traceability of food have become the cornerstone of food safety policies, designed to make food choice transparent. The aim is also to provide consumers with accurate information on the products, so that they can make informed choices but, above all, guarantee the circulation of healthy and wholesome food thanks to the possibility of reconstructing the entire path of the products, from the raw material to the final consumer. and to be able to promptly manage products considered at risk. Among the various examples, the numerous projects of the Gi & Me Association, chaired by Franz Martinelli, linked to the promotion and dissemination of native Mediterranean cereals and processed products, such as pasta and bread, allowed the Association to understand the importance of connect all the components of the food chain, which are involved in the traceability system, that is, from the collection of the product, passing through processors and distributors, to the final link: the consumer. Each step, from one component to another, must see the registration of food or incoming products, allowing the company that markets the complete product to be able to trace the raw materials of origin. The Association works on the protection and enhancement of the Mediterranean also with the Surefish project which is one of the most active international realities in terms of disseminating sustainability and traceability of the catch. The innovative "Fish traceability system" allows all operators in the fishing sector, fishermen and marketing operators, to comply with EU legislation on the labeling and traceability of fish products. The computerized traceability system of the fish supply chain was born from the idea of ​​on-board monitoring through the use of sophisticated but easy-to-use technology. At the time of the declaration of landing of the catch, the batch identifier is automatically generated.

In Italy, the health emergency has led to changes in purchasing behavior, changing the commercial and export logic of companies operating in our geographical context. Important differences between the generational targets stand out, as shown by the analyzes of Retail Institute Italy, the reference association of Retail in Italy: if the over 65s have discovered online for the first time, Gen Z and Millennials have "deepened ”New points of sale and new digital purchasing methods. If the analysts present the final data and derive possible trends from them, thanks to their presence in the field, the operators have the pulse of the trends while they are manifesting themselves. Investments in innovation and digital transformation have become a priority for the economic growth of Italian small and medium-sized enterprises and the entire Mediterranean. The classic forced lanes will be replaced by open digital agora and the different ways of buying and using Food & Beverage will fade into a continuum that goes from on-site consumption, to in-store purchase, to click & collect and delivery, up to digital commerce. . 




The European Commission for Democracy through Law

The European Commission for Democracy through Law - ATLANTIS



The Venice Commission


The European Commission for Democracy through Law, known as the Venice Commission, named after the city in which it meets, is an advisory body of the Council of Europe. Established in 1990, the Commission has played a key role in adopting constitutions that conform to the standards of the European constitutional heritage.

Initially conceived as an emergency constitutional engineering tool, in a context of democratic transition, the Commission has seen its activity progressively evolve to become an independent, internationally recognized body for legal reflection.

The Commission contributes significantly to the dissemination of the European constitutional heritage, which is based on the fundamental legal values ​​of the continent, and guarantees states "constitutional support". In addition, the Venice Commission plays an essential role in the management and prevention of conflicts by drawing up rules and advice on constitutional matters.


Legal nature and composition

Established in May 1990, as a partial agreement between the then 18 member states of the Council of Europe, the Commission became an extended agreement in February 2002, with the consequent possibility of welcoming non-European countries as members.


The Venice Commission is made up of "independent experts of international renown for their experience in democratic institutions or for their contribution to the development of law and political science" (Article 2 of the Statute).


The members are in particular university professors of constitutional law or international law, judges of supreme or constitutional courts, and some members of national parliaments. They are appointed for four years by the Member States of the Commission but they act in full autonomy and independence. Since December 2009, the President of the Commission has been Gianni Buquicchio.

Member states

All the member states of the Council of Europe have joined the Venice Commission. Furthermore, Kyrgyzstan became a member in 2004; Chile in 2005; the Republic of Korea and Montenegro in 2006; Morocco and Algeria in 2007; Israel in 2008, Peru and Brazil in 2009, Tunisia and Mexico in 2010, Kazakhstan in 2011, the United States in 2013, Kosovo in 2014, Costa Rica in 2016 and Canada in 2019. These new members have brought the number of states to 62. members of the Commission. Belarus participates as an associate member. The states that enjoy observer status with the Commission are: Argentina, the Holy See, Japan and Uruguay. South Africa and the Palestinian National Authority have a special cooperative status, similar to observer status.

The European Commission and the OSCE / ODIHR participate in the plenary sessions of the Commission.


Commission activities

The work of the European Commission for Democracy through Law is articulated around the three key principles of the European constitutional heritage: democracy, human rights and the primacy of law, which are the basis of all the activities of the Council of Europe. These principles materialize in the four key areas of the Commission's work:

Constitutional assistance

Elections and referendums

Cooperation with constitutional courts

Transnational studies, reports and seminars


The Venice Office of the Council of Europe

"Italy is one of the founding members of the Council of Europe and Venice is a cultural center recognized all over the world. - underlines Luisella Pavan Woolfe, Director of the Office - It is a crossroads of trade and civilization, one of the most visited cities in the world, a meeting point for peoples, countries and traditions. An important academic center, it hosts three universities, numerous international foundations and research centers. Venice adheres to the network of Intercultural Cities of the Council of Europe. The network helps cities to examine their policies through an intercultural lens and to develop comprehensive strategies for managing diversity in a positive way. Venice is also one of the four laboratory cities of the Faro Convention in Europe. In this city, the Council of Europe intends to verify how civil society and local authorities put into practice this relatively recent Convention on democratic participation in cultural heritage. Venice participates in the Jewish Heritage Itinerary certified by the Council of Europe. The itinerary crosses the city and stops in the ancient Ghetto, which turned 500 years old in 2016, and in the historic Jewish cemetery. In other words, Venice is a workshop and a testing ground for certain policies and some particularly significant and innovative programs of the Council of Europe.

The office is located in the heart of the city, in Piazza San Marco in the Procuratie Vecchie. It supports the Strasbourg headquarters in organizing activities ranging from culture, to cultural heritage, to training on human rights and democracy ".




A three-day study on world governance in Jesolo

(6th-7th-8th May 2021) International Festival of European Geopolitics


A yearly meeting to examine in depth geopolitics and global governance. This is the main goal of the International Festival of European Geopolitics which will be taking place on the days from 6th to 8th of May 2021 in Jesolo.

The seaside city, by adding this ambitious as well as prestigious event to its agenda, has decided to fully carry out its international vocation and thus become, for three days, a space to reflect on, examine in depth and debate all these subjects: diplomacy and international relations, security and defence, economics and finance, news, environment, healthcare and human rights, foreign affairs and international cooperation. 

All of these subjects will be view through an original approach: not just from an Italian but also a European point of view. It will be a chance to talk about Italy and the Continent, in a global geopolitical context and in a multidisciplinary way.

We have learnt like never before, in a year like the last one, that everything is more connected than we have previously thought. A health emergency is not just an event that has an impact on health, but has immense repercussions on economics, science, diplomatic relations, human rights, wars, the environment, energy policies. This conference aims at showing a picture of the contemporary world in which we live, with a look to the future but also with the awareness of having to learn from the past.

Maurizio Molinari, Director of La Repubblica, will open and close the first edition of the Festival on European Geopolitics, organised by the City of Jesolo together with the International Affairs Magazine ATLANTIS, the European Council, the Association for Diplomatic Studies in Rome, the Research Centre for Geopolitics and Naval Strategy (CESMAR), JesoloVenice Consortium, which will feature journalists, diplomats, academics, politicians, doctors, economists, military personnel. Many speakers with different backgrounds, all gathered to discuss current issues from as many perspectives as possible.

Among the many personalities who will appear on the scene, Michele Boldrin, economist and professor at the Washington University in St. Louis; Matteo Bassetti and Fabrizio Pregliasco for the healthcare panel; Sergio Costa, former Minister of the Environment; Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata, former Minister of Foreign Affairs; Luisella Pavan Woolfe, Director of the Italian Office of the European Council; Giorgio Saccoccia, President of the Italian Space Agency and Luca Capasso, from the Space General Office.

There will be contributions from important institutional figures from other countries, such as the Israeli Minister Alon Simhayoff, and Robert Needham, the US Consul General in Milan.

Also the Undersecretary of State to the Presidency, with a mandate on European Affairs, Vincenzo Amendola, will attend.

The Festival will begin on day 6th with a panel on diplomacy and one on space, a frontier where important strategic interests are at play. Of the various conferences of the following day, Europe will be the protagonist, grappling with the economic restart and with the Mediterranean, and will see the participation of the three Chiefs of Staff and the retired Head of the Carabinieri. But it does not end there: precious time will be devoted to analysing the problem of the energy transition and the protection of biodiversity, with the attendance of the President of Confindustria Veneto Enrico Carraro and the manager Paolo Scaroni. Finally, on the morning of the 8th, the focus will be on Italy in its role in the Union. We will honour Pietro Calamia, the great Italian Ambassador, of whom a collection of writings has recently been published, with the contribution of the General Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Elisabetta Belloni, together with the co-Presidents of the Association for Diplomatic Studies, the two Ambassadors Casardi e Melani. Professor Giuliano Amato will conclude.

The journalist Eleonora Lorusso will introduce the Festival. She will be together in the various panels with moderators from some of the main Italian newspapers.

The Festival aims at uniting culture and entertainment. To debate so called “serious” topics does not mean to give up the pleasure to participate in something emotionally and aesthetically engaging. We will see the contribution of Carlotta Melchiori, artist, musician and soprano singer, who will introduce the panels playing the piano and singing pieces, including national anthems. 

Hosted on the stage of the Vivaldi Theatre, the event will be broadcast in live streaming on the social pages of the Festival (Facebook: @FestivalGeopolitica) and those of the Municipality of Jesolo. More information on www.festivalgeopolitica.it

Organization and architectural structure postcovid

Organization and architectural structure postcovid - ATLANTIS

The covid 19 pandemic will revolutionize

Hospitals and RSA

Changing organization and architectural structure

Last year we became dramatically aware of how our health has a very close relationship with architecture and construction. Both buildings used for the care of the sick and those that house people unable to provide for themselves must be designed in such a way as to better manage emergency situations.

The RSAs were particularly affected by Covid19: we all remember the high number of victims that were recorded in these environments. But the advanced age of the subjects is not the only responsible factor. The material conditions in which the elderly found themselves living also played a role. Most of our residences for the elderly, unlike, for example, those in other countries such as France, do not allow for effective social distancing. The double room facility is a reality that negatively impacted the health of guests once the pandemic broke out. As Bertrand Barut, health director of a RSA in the Veneto, explains to us, once the first critical phase of the pandemic was passed, where the urgency was to procure health material (masks, tampons, PPE), the problem became organizational. . There was a lack of space to isolate the positives and to clearly separate the guests from the working staff. Confinement by nuclei had to be promptly used.

This problem, of a construction nature, is not easy to solve. It was necessary to study the compartments between one floor and another, in order to organize all those internal movements that must not cross (between people entering and people leaving, but also between the clean material to be received and the dirty material to be dispose of). One of the solutions implemented in the Barut RSA was, for example, to create a space between one department and another, by installing curtains, to use it for dressing and decontaminating staff.

Obtaining these spaces was not easy, bearing in mind that walls cannot be knocked down either in a short time or without first going through the consideration of an expert. Another problem was that of special waste which must be collected by certified and specialized companies and taken to incinerators within set times. But the volumes were such that the waste accumulated beyond the limit established by law. Looking ahead, this encourages thinking about how to increase the number of stairs, lifts and hoists.

To renovate a building, a substantial investment is required on the one hand, and the contribution of professional experts on the other, and redevelopment is not necessarily sufficient or feasible. Only new structures, built from scratch, can exploit all the opportunities and thus fully adopt the criteria necessary for the management of infectious diseases. We recall that, beyond the Covid19 pandemic, we are increasingly confronted by an increasing number of hospital infections, whose patients must be placed in isolation. And here the needs of physical space are making themselves felt again. All accommodation facilities, including mental health centers and prisons, where there are crowds, must undergo readjustments. Just as we have anti-seismic or fire prevention regulations, efforts will also need to be doubled to regulate buildings from an epidemiological point of view.


On the other hand, hospitals have proved to be much better equipped than RSAs to cope with the epidemic, although there is room for improvement. There are entire areas of research from which to draw, such as urban health, which studies how to combine the development of cities with the health of its inhabitants, and hospitality design, which deals directly with the design of places for health. As Stefano Capolongo, Director of the Department of Architecture, Construction Engineering and Built Environment of the Politecnico di Milano illustrates, the hospital is a sort of city within the city, a reflection of how the urban environment is able to respond to different requests. . In other words, architecture is the final swan song, which translates the sum of a whole mass of economic, environmental, social and epidemiological issues into a physical space.

In the past year, the hospitals, albeit in an improvised and precarious way, have been able to accommodate the large number of sick people. What did not hold up was the management system. We will not have to build new hospitals, but quickly apply innovations already studied by researchers. The planning must always be done with an eye to the future, foreseeing the epidemiological situation that will exist between 40-50 years, which is the average life time of a hospital.

Getting down to the concrete, we should look at these guiding principles.

First, location, which is the precondition for a hospital to function. Here we are talking about both physical and digital accessibility, within the infrastructural network. In large, more densely populated centers, contagion is favored. We need a sort of health belt that performs a double function: to protect cities and make themselves easily usable for those who live outside.

Second, flexibility, that is, the ability to structurally adapt to cope with emergencies, not only epidemics, but also earthquakes. Better to locate such buildings in areas that allow them to expand with the addition of buildings.

Third, resilience, that is, the ability of hospitals to be able to function normally and continue to treat ordinary pathologies (for example chronic-degenerative diseases) even in the event of an emergency, without transforming, as in some cases, into totally Covid hospitals.

From an architectural point of view, differentiated routes must be provided for dirt and cleanliness, for loading and unloading of goods, for staff and patients from outside. It is not certain that we will return to the old pavilion hospitals, but will be designed in nuclei, more easily isolated in any eventuality, to which aggregate volumes will be added, by way of combs.

It will be necessary to design for the nucleus also from the plant engineering point of view (mechanical ventilation and sectorized air handling units, to avoid the transmission of viruses, use of innovative materials with special antibacterial and antiviral properties). Monitoring the quality of the air is always very important, even for example in the case of hospital infections, which are increasingly on the rise. It is useful to think for operating blocks that have their functional autonomy, and this is also useful for routine maintenance. In addition, it will be important to bring the plant component to most of the hospital, so as to be able to convert spaces to intensive care places if necessary.

The future could hold us new pandemics and at that point it will be necessary to have treasured the lessons we have taken in facing the present, which has yet to die out. health and disease also pass through architecture and our relationship with the built environment.

2021 International Year of Forests

2021 International Year of Forests - ATLANTIS

Forests, ancient myths and sustainability

Romano Toppan

Mythological references of trees

The restoration of forests is the theme of the international year of forests in 2021. Trees give man health and happiness, but modern man lacks a deep inner conviction that, on the contrary, primitive peoples had.

The quantity (and quality) of the mythological and literary references on the theme of woods and forests is impressive (without mentioning other forms of art, such as painting, landscape architecture, history, anthropology and even psychoanalysis ).

However, it is certain that little importance is given (and this is due to ignorance) to the "meaning" that the myths, legends and even fables had around the theme of the forest.

The meaning of this huge mythical "narrative" is that the forests and woods represented something "sacred and fascinating" at the same time: they were the very symbol of life, beauty and prosperity of a territory and many peoples dedicated a care to them , an almost religious respect and “covering”.

The difference between us moderns and ancient peoples (or peoples still linked to forests such as the Indians of the Amazon or the tribes of Papua, or the peoples of tropical Africa, or the aborigines of Australia) is profound, in the sense that these peoples , which we call "wild and primitive", had projected on the forests and woods a dignity, a sacredness, which represented much better a defense of the environment and nature than our institutional Superintendencies.


Just one hint: if our Superintendencies or the relevant institutions do not "see" (either by inertia or because they are corrupt), we moderns are capable of destroying woods and forests, we men of progress and advanced technology, we consider them almost only as a source of materials, business, speculation, with an approach totally devoid of any sign and symbol that gives them another dimension that is not purely materialistic.

The ancients, the primitives, the savages, on the contrary, elaborated the myths and with them the presence of the sacred (of gods, nymphs, and even taboos and narratives full of fear, that is, fear) because in them the "Superintendence Was assimilated into the center of their own inner life.

Against the speculative mentality


We all know how much better a society and an ethics of behavior is, which rests or has the good fortune to be based on an inner belief, on an intrinsic motivation, rather than only on an extrinsic motivation, such as that of the legal type.

There is widespread in our society, especially the Italian one, a mentality that is ready to observe the laws, rules and behaviors of respect for the environment, only if it senses the threat of a sanction, but in people's hearts it does not exist. no trace of intimate conviction that makes us behave in a morally integral way, towards nature, the landscape, environmental and cultural assets, regardless of the very existence of a criminal law or external coercion.

In this the ancients, the primitives, the savages undoubtedly demonstrate their civil and social superiority with respect to our so-called advanced civilization, in which growing masses of citizens do not have within themselves the moral law that induces them to behave well, towards others and nature, by virtue of an indelible and permanent inner conviction: today opportunism, cunning, personal utility as the dominant law, amoral familism as the material constitution of the Republic reign supreme, much stronger than the Constitution legal and all the Declarations of the rights of nature, such as the now innumerable documents of states, regions, municipalities, and the European Union, UN, etc. indicate, in their quality of guidelines in favor of sustainability, biodiversity, the reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere and so on.


Sustainability: forests as privileged witnesses


We all remember the 5 documents issued by the Rio de Janeiro Conference almost thirty years ago, in 1992, with the World Summit on Sustainable Development: the General Programmatic Declaration, the Document on climate, which will then take the name (with little luck, unfortunately ) of the "Kyoto Protocol" (almost as if it were a Curtense ceremony in a salon of mummified aristocrats), and then the Document on biodiversity and, finally, the Declaration on Forests, to which 2021 is dedicated.

It is no coincidence that one of the five global programmatic documents was dedicated to Forests to ensure the sustainability of the world's development and guarantee the survival of the planet also for future generations, as the beautiful definition of sustainability given by Gro Harlem Brundtland says. extraordinary woman, who headed the Preparatory Committee of the Rio Conference.

In fact, forests are the fundamental source of life, together with water: the virtuous circuit between water, forests, absorption of carbon dioxide through the chlorophyll process, fertility of the earth to allow the production of food and so on.

Even after the Rio Conference, international and national meetings, documents, laws, and finally the Next Generation EU fund continued, set up at the European summit in July 2020, in order to stem the damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, relaunching the economy through investments in the green and digital economy.

Getting lost in the forest: in search of an alternative economy


The effort of all this enormous mass of documents, principles, laws, norms and directives, is intended to introduce into our inner conviction the same respect that the ancients felt, but the success of this respect was in the ancients much higher, lasting and intact. of ours: they internalized it with an act of faith, with the "religio", which etymologically means "bond", or through the myth, which means "story", narration of the origins of the world, of things, of creation, through the presence of the gods (as in the Greek, Latin and Germanic culture) or of the ancestors, as in the cultures of the aborigines of Australia, of the North American Indians as well as of the South.

Never in the history of humanity have we had, as today, mountains of written laws, norms, solemn declarations, rhetoric by writers, orators, politicians, actors and jesters, on respect for forests, trees, nature, water, of mother earth, and never as today have there been so huge, devastating and pernicious immoral and uncivil conduct: from the oil tankers cleaning their slums in the sea, to the catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, to the houses welded with tape that collapse at the first earthquake ...

We are certain that, when in 100 years, someone makes the history of the epoch of these last 50 years, they will say that the moral and cultural backwardness of our age is one of the worst ever seen, and that the ethics of the gnomes of Wall Street makes you shiver in comparison to the ethics of the Gnomes of Nordic mythology, who instead live in the woods and guard the humus, the roots underground, the trunks, the leaves.

Although these gnomes are also considered dwarves, they were beneficial, unlike these other spirit dwarves, who with a single click on their computer wreak havoc on entire nations.



Alternative economies


The currents of thought that advocate these "alternative economies" are innumerable, but they can be summarized, in their best known forms, in three groups:

The group of alternative economies inspired by "sustainability".

The group of alternative economies inspired by "solidarity".

The group of alternative economists inspired by "happiness".

In this chapter we will give some brief indications on the first two groups, while we will devote a larger space to the economy of happiness in the next chapter.

In our strategy, the three groups of "alternative" orientation to the current economy are considered here in a single perspective or "vision", because it is now clear that the current of thought that interests us most in this relationship, namely the economy of happiness or well-being, cannot be achieved if the other two are not simultaneously implemented: it is from them, in fact, that the most significant outcomes of a lifestyle, both individual and community, inspired by well-being, draws its foundation, above all because of the profound turning point in the field of consumption (waste, emissions and all that threatens our common future) - and this is what sustainability now requires of us in an increasingly urgent way - and, secondly, in the field of social interactions, human relations, cooperation and the overall quality of social capital, as the tables of values ​​and priorities of the economies show us. mine of solidarity.

There are of course many other forms of "alternative economy" but, in a nutshell, all are substantially attributable to these three models or paradigms.

Sustainable development


Sustainable development has become, today, the touchstone of the very value of a policy and a method of governance: it means, first of all, that in the formulations of the balances between costs and benefits of economic development initiatives, they are explicitly introduced impact assessments on local resources, first of all on environmental ones, but also on those of culture, traditions, systems of social relations, of the "table of values", on which the local community in which the development.

Secondly, it means adopting a development model that "meets the needs and expectations of well-being of current generations without compromising the ability of future ones to have an adequate response to theirs".

Programming sustainable development therefore involves "designing" a set of investments, actions and initiatives that start from the management of the territory, avoiding the usual dissociation between economic development and conservation / enhancement of the environment, and guiding the reconciliation between utilities advocated by investors (public and private) with the stability and equilibrium of the system, and its ability to regenerate over time the set of "products" (including social and intangible) that identify its ability to compete on the market.

The methodology that inspires sustainable development does not envisage a mere reference to the statistical growth of purely economic and monetary flows and exchange values ​​(the so-called GDP), but an orientation to the systematic and widespread production of integrated factors of well-being and quality of life for citizens.

It is, in fact, the existence of these factors that virtually represents an increasingly appreciable value even on the monetary level, considering the relative rarity that in the current economic panorama possess the countries that know how to maintain their integrity and offer, to the growing demand for authenticity of products, environments, landscapes and lifestyles, a satisfying and organized response.

Each area, in a scenario of globalization, cannot compete except in a regime of unimitable specificity, and therefore with a programming that adopts the paradigms of sustainable development.



The paradox of competitive advantages


It is a paradox, writes Michael Porter that "lasting competitive advantages in a global economy are based more and more on local things - knowledge, relationships, motivation - that distant competitors cannot have". Including trees, flowers, fruits.

The paradox, in fact, of the success of products in the post-industrial era, which is the era of satiety, of the interchangeability of alternatives, consists in the inversion of the dependent and independent factors of production: economic policy continues to consider economic results (traditionally connected with industries and commerce) as an “independent variable” to the achievement of which all the rest of water, soil, landscape, forests and woods [...] must be submitted and inevitably we end up with the specific resources being exhausted. If, on the contrary, these are assumed as an independent variable, the resulting economic results are not reproducible elsewhere, are more stable and lasting, difficult to imitate, strictly connected to the resident population, its roots, its social and cultural perceptions, its management and communication methods, including "commercial".

It is for this reason, in fact, that the term "sustainable" (more commonly used today) is sometimes replaced with the term "durable" (in the French language, for example, sustainable development translates as développement durable): what lasts over time is always the one that has its roots in the local economy and in “endogenous” development.

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Other paths, other paths, can certainly offer opportunities: often, however, these opportunities have either turned out to be temporary and ephemeral, or have been intelligently placed within a strategic "trigger" and start-up project for other related initiatives. in a more profound and significant way with the territory and its enhancement, such as the transformation of an abandoned factory into a museum of contemporary art (Glasgow) or even the construction of “vertical woods”.



A better world in fifty steps: from separate collection to ecological tourism


In this sense, the very recent case of Eugenie Harvey, an expert in communication and public relations, appears interesting and instructive, because she was able to solve one of the most evident critical issues: the translation of the concept of sustainability into an accessible, convincing, concrete language, easily understandable to the generality of citizens and consumers, who often, despite having a propensity for a life marked by sustainability, do not have semantic codes of interpretation capable of formulating this lifestyle in an immediate and directly applicable way.

In her bestseller on 50 Little Things That Change the World, there is hardly anything extraordinary or rare or original: she simply flew so low that she was able to make herself understood even by children or housewives most lacking in doctrine and her copy strategy couldn't be smarter and more effective, as evidenced by the overwhelming success your book has had.

This is a list of the (fifty-one) things that can be achieved by every single person with results that really contribute to reducing the greenhouse effect. Some proposals seem trivial, but their implementation has important repercussions.

Among these, the replacement of traditional light bulbs with energy-saving ones, or the attempt to use public transport as much as possible. But also, for example, the use of lukewarm water to wash clothes in the washing machine and then allow them to air dry: a cotton t-shirt washed in hot water and then "artificially" dried can enter the atmosphere even 2 kilos of carbon dioxide over its lifetime.

On the list there are other more curious but equally effective initiatives. Those who have a garden, for example, find space to plant bamboo canes: it is a plant that grows very fast and absorbs carbon dioxide in almost double quantities compared to many other ornamental plants. Or, start recycling some clothes, especially those in "fleece": a mountain clothing company has discovered that recycling the fibers of sweatshirts and jackets saves 76% of energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 71%.

There are also initiatives that can happen once in a lifetime, but if done wisely they can be extremely important for the atmosphere. This is the case, for example, of those who build a house. There are now many examples of "passive houses", which, although costing from 5 to 8% more than a normal house, save up to 90% of energy. The "passive house" was born from an initiative of a German-Swedish industry that uses the most diverse systems to capture energy inside the house: from the heat produced by the stove to that emitted by the human body. Among the 51 ways to save energy there is also the invitation to turn off computers when they are not in use, to reduce the use of meat (the transport of which produces an enormous amount of greenhouse gases) and to spread the habit of using clothes. second hand.

To these choices, which affect the single person, obviously we must add those taken at a higher level, which require political choices: for example that of ensuring reforestation: according to the WWF, benefits of 140 billion euros per year are obtained from reforestation , restoring at least 350 million hectares of forests by 2030. Or to stow carbon dioxide produced by power plants in deep rocks or use organic fuels for transportation. But why wait? 

The testimony of Pope Francis


Another exceptional witness for this new path towards sustainability is Pope Francis, who, in a message addressed to the participants in the "Countdown", a digital event of TED on climate change, recalled his encyclical Laudato si 'as a manifesto of an ecological economy :

"Five years ago I wrote the encyclical letter Laudato dedicated itself to the care of our common home to propose an integral ecology, both to respond to the cry of the earth and to the cry of the poor. It is an invitation to an integral vision of life, starting from the conviction that everything in the world is connected and that, as the pandemic reminded us, we are interdependent on each other and dependent on our mother earth. From this vision derives the need to look for other ways of understanding progress and measuring it, without limiting ourselves to the economic, technological and financial dimensions ".



The example of ecological tourism in all its forms


Some of our contemporaries reconstitute the essence of ancient myths about forests and woods through that form of sustainable tourism we call ecological.

The document of the World Tourism Organization on ecological tourism is wonderfully articulated in codes of behavior that reflect in secular and rational terms what ancient myths assigned to religious and sacred terms.

This translation or interpretation becomes explicit precisely from that target, fortunately growing, that experts consider as nature-loving "tourists", respectful of the environmental resources of the sites, with a preference for parks and protected areas.

In Italy we have a total of 871 protected areas: 24 National Parks, 30 marine protected areas, 147 state reserves, 134 regional parks, 365 regional reserves, 171 other regional protected areas. Many of these sites have been baptized SIC, sites of community interest.

An imposing wealth, which deserves to be known and valued no less than the Italian cultural heritage is recognized and admired.

But to enhance this environmental treasure, it is necessary to reverse the attitude: institutions must not guarantee the integrity of the sites, the prosperity of the forests and woods, the respect for those authentic monuments of life that are trees: but it should be the intimate conviction of consciences, to the point that those who love ecological tourism become “contaminators” (with a kind of “viral” marketing) of all the others.

The interventions, for example, that many schools carry out with their children, teenagers and adolescents, aim exactly at this involvement, at this responsible tourism starting from the heart.

And if we want to identify which and how many suggestions the wood or the forest can give us, only on the cultural and educational level, we are spoiled for choice, because the number of writers is incalculable (for example Herman Hesse and his hymn to trees in the short novel "Vagabondaggio" that we report at the end of the article), of poets, artists, cultural traditions, anthropologists, even psychoanalysts, who develop thoughts, intuitions, sometimes mysterious not to say "mysterious" paths, such as they may be the revival of druidic cults, the conception of the Christmas tree, the weddings of trees in the arcane ceremonies of May in some areas of the south, which I myself have witnessed.

In this we recognize the imprint of a tourism that transforms all these suggestions into attractions, emotions, experiences: when Mauro Corona talks about his villages and woods, he actually marches behind the footprints of memory, that is Mnemosyne that , as we all know from ancient Greek myths, he was the lover with whom Zeus created the nine Muses.

And then the memory of the ancient crafts of the wood becomes fruition, the fairy tales with the strange and unresolved disappearances of human beings, the presence of poisonous mushrooms but also of delicious fruits, and, above all, the great charm of "wood": with the which the architectures and the landscape of the most beautiful and admired places become almost a seal of a new life, the open door for access to beauty and health / salvation.

But also the memories of fatigue, hunger, pain and fear can emanate a sign of fragility and precariousness, in the face of the greatness of nature and the shadows of the forests and woods, which give a remorse, a return to our true dimension, an incisive attack against our mania for grandeur, our prosopopoeia of people who believe themselves to be gods, authorized to do violence to everything, just to prove that we are the masters of the universe.

The Greek myth of hubris is exemplary: the shipwreck of our self-referential mythology, with the idea of ​​unlimited and irresponsible development, is welded precisely to the mysterious myths of the wood and forests, especially that tree of life and the other tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which are narrated in the first chapters of Genesis.

The definitive and crucial choice of his destiny, man has played it from the beginning in front of two trees: the one that gave him life ("by eating this fruit you will live"), or the one that gave the knowledge of good and evil and by eating this tree man chose to want to put himself in the place of god, to want to have an unconstrained behavior, to do whatever he wanted with the world.

But man was shipwrecked right in the face of the wrong choice: even today we find ourselves in front of a tree. If we accept this tree as a source of life, as the breath of the world, whether it is on the Cansiglio or in any other part of the world, we can obtain enjoyment, joy, oxygen, health, and live in the grace of God. If, on the other hand, we destroy him, we deprive him of his life, in reality we deprive ourselves of ours, and we live in mortal sin.

In this lies the message that mythology, but also theology, tell us about trees, woods and forests: it is not a futile theme and only for trips and outings, but a profound question about our own destiny.



Trees are the memory of the world and guardians of the fertile land


Happiness derives from Latin and Indo-European roots that mean "fertility" and man as the only "thinking" creature is, therefore, above all "memory" (and the fathers of the economy of happiness confirm this thesis unequivocally, especially Kahneman, the most illustrious of them and Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002).

As for the care of the "earth" as the root of both creative intelligence and all forms of art, it finds in the first book of the Bible an original and absolutely unedited revelation. God's condemnation of Adam to "work" the earth with the sweat of his brow suggests that the Greek verb αροω and the Latin word "plow" contain the Indo-European root "ar" (in Sanskrit) and derive from this root, in Latin, the words "ars" and artifex: man as the architect of his destiny through his creativity and responsibility, begins with working for the land and its fertility and creativity. It is the first and fundamental act of responsibility and creativity, on which all other forms of development and creation rest.

Some special trees, heralds of peace and resilience


At the foot of these centuries-old trees, you can breathe the atmosphere of hope that man can discover better ways to live in harmony with nature.


Tree of Peace in Beirut: flourishing in all directions, a riot of fantastic and cheerful colors ....

(Garo Haddad)




The 1500-year-old tree of life, one of the oldest living beings in the world. It is located in South Africa, from where, according to some paleontologists, a nucleus of hominids survived after all other forms of hominid became extinct. This tree of life therefore also has a symbolic meaning.

(Source: fbcdn-sphotos-c-a.akamaihd.net)



Toborochi tree:

The legend about this tree has it that the forces of darkness do not like people. One day, Aravera, the beautiful wife of the God Colibri, becomes pregnant with a boy. Evil spirits decide to kill this boy.

Aravera escapes the village with the help of her husband to save her son's life. But evil spirits follow them. To save her son, Aravera hides, with him, in a Toborochi tree and remains there until the child grows up. And once grown, she leaves the tree, takes revenge on evil spirits and saves her mother.

All symbols of salvation, both of the protagonist and of the mother (earth).

The tree is located in Santa Cruz, Bolivia (Extract from Esra Çınarlı from the Culture and Curiosity group)

Source: Elisabeth Topinka



The Oaxaca Tree: The Oaxaca tree in Mexico is the tree with the largest trunk diameter in the world. Its circumference reaches nearly 197 feet (nearly 60 meters) and it has a height of nearly 138 feet (42 meters). The approximate age is 2,000 years. Montezuma cypress (Taxodium mucronatum) or Ahuehuete is the national tree of Mexico.

Source: www.facebook.com/parlalberi/posts/455784054449767





Trees are sanctuaries. Who knows how to talk to them, who knows how to listen, perceives the truth. they do not preach doctrines or recipes but preach the primordial law of life.

A tree speaks: in me, says the tree, there is a grain, a spark, a thought, I am the life of eternal life. One is the attempt and the birth that the eternal mother dared with me, unique is my figure and the ribs of my skin, only the slightest play of leaves on my summit and the smallest wound of my bark. My task is to represent and signify the eternal in the inlay of uniqueness.

When we are sad and we can no longer bear life, then a tree can speak to us and tells us: be quiet! watch me. Living is not easy, living is not difficult. These are childish thoughts. Instead, let God speak in you. Homeland is not here and there, homeland is within you. So the tree murmurs in the evening, when we are afraid of our own childish thoughts. Trees that have long thoughts, dilated and quiet… they are wiser than we are. But as soon as we have learned to listen to them, we just want to be who we are. This is the homeland, this is happiness. (Hermann Hesse - Wandering)