On October 4 th 2018, a total of 20 United Nations members from Europe and the Mediterranean
region had the opportunity to observe up close the work done in Manarola for the past four years
by the Manarola Foundation. These members were attending a Climate Change Meeting (Regional
Workshop on Action for Climate Empowerment for Europe and the Mediterranean – ACE) from
October 2 nd -October 4 th . This meeting was organized by UNFCCC (The UN Secretariat for Climate Change) in conjunction with the Italian Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea.
The first part of their visit included climbing up to the Basto locality on Collora hill. During this
climb the UN members were made aware of the historical dynamics that led to the abandonment
of the cultivated terraces and the resulting risks. Moreover, it was possible to observe from this
point, the terraces over the coastline between Manarola and Corniglia. This area is characterized
by its extensive abandonment. The UN members were also made aware of the urgency to restore
the area right above the Manarola houses in order to protect its inhabitants.
Later on, Lauro Bordoni, a council member of the Foundation, briefly explained the building
techniques of the dry-stone walls and the important role of soil conservation and water drainage
with the aim of improving slope stability. After the field trip, the UN members took part in a
meeting organized by the Foundation, in which the council member Claudio Rollandi and the Vice
President Eugenio Bordoni expressed the results achieved by the Foundation in its four years of
activity and its future projects.
The audience, receptive and interested, transformed the meeting into an interactive discussion. In
particular, a UN member from Lebanon, expressed his doubts on the deforestation action carried
out by the Foundation to restore the abandoned fields. He highlighted how he thought this
particular practice is considered a negative one according to environmental aspects. The Vice
President Bordoni, promptly answered this observation in terms of the Cinque Terre landscape by
explaining that the building of dry-stone walls and vine cultivation is mandatory in order to
preserve an entire ecosystem. The dry-stone walls and the vineyards, with their deep roots,
contribute to keep up the land that otherwise would be steep and vertical. Bordoni also noted
that this practice serves to protect the land from landslides.
Afterwards, Rollandi explained how the Foundation works. The fields donated to the Foundation
were restored and assigned to local companies. More specifically, 3,053 of a total 7,809 square
meters of restored land were assigned with regular rental contracts to 4 local farms, using the
unification process which was useful in terms of production increase. “The aim of the Foundation
– said council member Rollandi, “is to be a local example aiming at the creation of new and
similar associations in the other Cinque Terre villages”. Following its main purpose, the Manarola
Foundation, together with the National Park of Cinque Terre, Università di Genova, Legambiente,
Parco del Garraf (Catalunya) and ITRB decided to present a proposal to the “LIFE Climate Change
Adaptation” measure. In the case of a positive evaluation, it will be possible to restore about 5
hectares of abandoned fields and 4.000 square meter of dry-stone walls, protecting 353
inhabitants, 5000 daily visitors and creating local jobs.
Another result achieved by the Foundation was the assignment of 4.000 square meter of restored
land to the Cinque Terre Agricultural Cooperative: for the first time since its birth, this association
will plant a new vineyard and produce wine through its own grapes.
The workshop represented a great opportunity to enhance awareness about the Manarola
Foundation internationally, which has become essential in the area. There is hope for its
replicability even in the neighbouring municipalities with the support and collaboration of all
actors working on this unique piece of land.
A follow-up on the workshop:
How was the idea of the workshop created?
The Italian Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea has always been active in regard to climate
change and correlated activities. For this reason, the Ministry accepted the invitation of the UN to
contribute to the organization of a regional workshop focusing on, “Action for Climate
Empowerment for Europe and the Mediterranean region”. The Paris Agreement on climate
change has been globally recognised for the importance of informing the public about sustainable
development. Therefore, these countries are encouraged to promote and facilitate climate change
education programs, public awareness campaigns, public access to relevant information, public
participation, expert training and strengthening the international cooperation at national and
What ACE is?
“Action for Climate Empowerment” (ACE) is a term adopted by the UNFCCC. It focuses on six
priority areas: education, training, public awareness, public participation, public access to
information, and international cooperation on these issues. The implementation of all six areas
has been identified in recent years as a pivotal factor to enhance public understanding and
participation in solving the complex challenges presented by climate change.
What was the objective of the workshop?
The objective of the workshop was to provide a forum for ACE national focal points and other
relevant party representatives to share their experiences, exchange ideas, good practices and
lessons learned. The workshop strengthened the existing skills and capacities of national focal
points for ACE. Besides taking advantage of the participation of ACE national focal points from
different countries as well as representatives of the UNFCCC secretariat and distinguished
speakers, the Italian Ministry for the Environment supported the secretariat in the organization of
a public event, in order to raise awareness among the civil society on ACE and the Paris
Why La Spezia city and the Cinque Terre?
The Paris Agreement stipulated the promotion of education, training and public awareness on
climate change. This means that cities and local authorities have a central role to contrast the
climate change. La Spezia represented the perfect place to hold a similar workshop due to its
public event organized the previous year, focused on, “The smart city as a challenge for the
climate change”. On October 3 rd , La Spezia hosted a public conference, open to the UN members
participating in the workshop and the Italian civil society, involving representatives from both the
private sector and the sub-national governments to discuss what the country is doing in terms of
climate change action. La Spezia has been chosen also for its proximity to the National Park of
Cinque Terre (part of the UNESCO heritage) and to other UNESCO sites like Portovenere and the
islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto. Also, due to the presence of the Marine Environment
Research Center S. Teresa of ENEA, which conducts activities concerning the Global Climate and
the Mediterranean Marine Environment.