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POLITICS

Five Star Movement has abandoned its promises to protect Italy’s environment: activists

Italy's anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) made the environment one of its main campaign themes in 2018. But eight months after coming to power in a populist coalition with the hard-right League, it has little to show for it, say environmental activists.

Five Star Movement has abandoned its promises to protect Italy's environment: activists
The Ilva steel plant in Taranto, which the M5S promised to turn into a clean energy park. Photo: Alfonzo Di Vincenzo/AFP

READ ALSO: Understanding Italy’s Five Star Movement

“We expected much more from them in terms of climate and the environment,” admits Stefano Ciafani, national head of Italy’s environmental lobby Legambiente.

No fewer than 52 pages were dedicated to the chapter on the environment in the M5S electoral programme, the fruit of a wide-ranging consultation online with the movement’s members. Between the general election in March, and the drawing up of a “government contract” with the League at the end of May, “the environment, the green economy and zero waste” was cut to three pages. 

“Those who do not respect the environment do not respect themselves. We must… put the ecological issue at the centre of politics,” the contract read.

But the toxic mix of Italy’s colossal public debt and an economic downturn saw both parties prioritise their flagship measures — pensions and an income support plan — over the environment.

READ ALSO: ‘We breathe in poison’: Why the Po Valley is one of the most polluted places in Italy


Photo: Nasa/AFP

Funds cut

It was a familiar scenario: according to a WWF report, “in the last ten years, resources for the environment ministry have been cut in half” in Italy, from €1.65 billion in 2008 to €880 million in 2018.

While the M5S had promised to pour in resources, the budget is set to be slashed once again in 2019.

“The high expectations raised by the Five Star Movement during the election campaign as regards the environment, energy and climate have been dashed somewhat,” Ciafani says. “This government’s policies are geared to addressing three topics — immigration, pensions and income support,” he said.

“When the M5S was in favour of protecting the environment, it was ideological; it actually supported protests against any industrial project,” Ciafani said. “But now that they are in government they are faced with their responsibilities and are forced to make proposals, which they have never done.”

READ ALSO: These are the 55 most polluted towns in Italy


Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Premature deaths

The Movement has had to swallow a bitter pill in accepting the steel giant ArcelorMittal takeover of Italian steelmaker Ilva. It had promised voters the site in Taranto in southern Italy — one of the most polluted in Europe — would be shut down and transformed into a renewable energy park.

The air pollution figures across the country make for gloomy reading, with “90,000 premature deaths due to smog” a year, according to the environment ministry.

Italy comes bottom in Europe for the number of inhabitants living in areas where air pollution limits are exceeded, according to the European Environment Agency. 

READ ALSO: Italian steel plant blamed for spike in child cancer cases


Photo: Alfonso Di Vincenzo/AFP

BY AFP’s Ljubomir Milasin

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ENVIRONMENT

MAP: Which regions of Italy have the most Blue Flag beaches?

The list of Italy's high quality beaches has grown again this year. Here, we take a look at the regions where you can find the most beaches that meet the highest global standards.

MAP: Which regions of Italy have the most Blue Flag beaches?

A total of 427 beaches across Italy have been awarded the internationally recognised and coveted bandiera blu (Blue Flag) status for 2022. That’s 11 more beaches than the 416 awarded last year, and up from 246 in 2020.

The north-western coastal region of Liguria took the top spot for the number of best beaches again, claiming 32 stretches of coastline of Blue Flag quality.

It’s followed by Tuscany, Puglia, and Campania, with 18 beaches each.

Beaches only get awarded this status if they meet excellent water quality and environmental standards, assigned by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE).

According to the latest edition of the list, Italy is home to 10 percent of the Blue Flag beaches worldwide.

Having a clean sea or good water quality standards aren’t enough to claim the recognition. The criteria for achieving the Blue Flag status comprises 33 areas of environmental, safety and educational specifications, including beach waste management, recycling, the presence of lifeguards and the cleanliness of changing facilities.

READ ALSO: Is Italy’s west or east coast the best place for a holiday?

We looked at the regions with Blue Flag status across Italy, based on the latest FEE data. In this map, you can find where to go for a beautiful and environmentally safe day by the sea.

Watch out for the specific beach with the classification, as some municipalities have been known to put flags across the whole coastline, rather than just on the stretch where the award applies.

Here’s a list of the Blue Flag beaches, according to region:

Liguria – 32 beaches

Bordighera, Sanremo, Taggia, Riva Ligure, Santo Stefano al Mare, San Lorenzo al Mare, Imperia, Diano Marina. Ceriale, Borghetto Santo Spirito, Loano, Pietra Ligure, Finale Ligure, Noli, Spotorno, Bergeggi, Savona, Albissola Marina, Albisola Superiore, Celle Ligure, Varazze, Camogli, Santa Margherita Ligure, Chiavari, Lavagna, Sestri Levante, Moneglia. Framura, Bonassola, Levanto, Lerici, Ameglia.

Liguria’s beaches have the highest concentration of Blue Flag status in Italy. Photo by Florencia Potter on Unsplash

Tuscany – 18 beaches

Carrara, Massa, Forte dei Marmi, Pietrasanta, Camaiore, Viareggio, Pisa Livorno, Rosignano Marittimo, Cecina, Bibbona, Castagneto Carducci, San Vincenzo, Piombino, Marciana Marina, Follonica, Castiglione della Pescaia, Grosseto.

Puglia – 18 beaches

Rodi Garganico, Peschici, Zapponeta, Margherita di Savoia, Bisceglie, Polignano a Mare, Monopoli, Fasano, Ostuni, Carovigno, Castellaneta, Maruggio, Ginosa, Melendugno, Castro, Salve, Ugento, Nardò.

READ ALSO: OPINION: How tourism could help save Italy’s coastline – instead of destroying it

Campania – 18 beaches

Vico Equense, Piano di Sorrento, Sorrento, Massa Lubrense, Anacapri, Positano, Capaccio, Agropoli, Castellabate, Montecorice, Pollica, Casal Velino, Ascea, Pisciotta, Centola, Camerota, Ispani, Vibonati.

Marche – 17 beaches

Gabicce Mare, Pesaro, Fano, Mondolfo, Senigallia, Ancona, Sirolo, Numana, Porto Recanati, Potenza Picena, Civitanova Marche, Fermo, Altidona, Pedaso, Cupra Marittima, Grottammare, San Benedetto del Tronto.

Breathtaking Puglia waters. Photo by Massimo Virgilio on Unsplash

Calabria – 17 beaches

Tortora, Praia a Mare, San Nicola Arcella, Santa Maria del Cedro, Diamante, Roseto Capo Spulico, Trebisacce, Villapiana, Cirò Marina, Melissa, Isola di Capo Rizzuto, Sellia Marina, Soverato, Tropea, Caulonia, Roccella Jonica, Siderno.

Sardinia – 15 beaches

Badesi, Castelsardo, Sorso, Sassari, Santa Teresa Gallura, Aglientu, Trinita’ d’Agultu e Vignola, La Maddalena, Palau, Budoni, Oristano, Tortolì, Bari Sardo, Quartu Sant’Elena, Sant’Antioco.

Abruzzo – 14 beaches

Martinsicuro, Alba Adriatica, Tortoreto, Giulianova, Roseto degli Abruzzi, Pineto, Silvi, Pescara, Francavilla al Mare, Fossacesia, Vasto, San Salvo, Villalago, Scanno.

Sicily – 11 beaches

Alì Terme, Roccalumera, Furci Siculo, Santa Teresa di Riva, Lipari, Tusa, Menfi, Modica, Ispica, Pozzallo, Ragusa.

To find your nearest blue flag beach, you can search the interactive map here.

Trentino-Alto Adige – 10 beaches

Bedollo, Baselga di Pine’, Pergine Valsugana, Tenna, Calceranica al Lago, Caldonazzo, Lavarone, Levico Terme, Sella Giudicarie, Bondone.

Lazio – 10 beaches

Trevignano Romano, Anzio, Latina, Sabaudia, San Felice Circeo, Terracina, Fondi, Sperlonga, Gaeta, Minturno.

Veneto – 9 beaches

San Michele al Tagliamento, Caorle, Eraclea, Jesolo, Cavallino Treporti, Venezia, Chioggia, Rosolina, Porto Tolle.

Emilia Romagna – 9 beaches

Comacchio, Ravenna, Cervia, Cesenatico, San Mauro Pascoli, Bellaria Igea Marina, Riccione, Misano Adriatico, Cattolica.

Basilicata – 5 beaches

Maratea, Bernalda, Pisticci, Policoro, Nova Siri.

Piedmont – 3 beaches

Cannobio e Cannero Riviera, Gozzano.

Friulia-Venezia Giulia – 2 beaches

Grado, Lignano Sabbiadoro.

Molise – 1 beach

Campomarino.

Lombardy – 1 beach

Gardone Riviera.

To find your nearest blue flag beach, you can search the interactive map here.

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