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Safety and Security Environmental Technology Design and Construction Italy

Italy: Landslide, Flood Management and Prevention

In May of 2023, heavy rains flooded over forty cities and towns in the region of Emilia-Romagna, killing 17 and forcing tens of thousands of residents to evacuate their homes. In addition to the human cost, the flood and landslides caused almost nine billion euros ($9.8 billion) in damage. Only six months earlier, on the night of November 25, 2022, a strong storm hit the island of Ischia off the coast of Naples, Italy causing flooding and a sudden landslide at dawn that swept away cars and killed 12 people.  And just a few months before that a flash flood in the Marches region on the Adriatic coast killed 12 people and caused two billion euros ($2.1 billion) in damages.

As with all countries along the Mediterranean coast, Italy’s geological position and geomorphological structure make it prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes, wildfires, landslides, and floods. Italy ranks as the 52nd most disaster-prone country according to the 2023 World Risk Index.

Data published by Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA), states that 93.9% of Italy’s municipalities (7,423) are at risk from landslides, floods and/or coastal erosion. Overall, 1.3 million inhabitants are at risk of landslides and 6.8 million inhabitants at risk of flooding. Out of a total of over 14.5 million buildings, over 565,000 (3.9%) are located in high and very high-risk areas for landslides while 1.5 million (10 .7%) are located in areas with above average risk of flooding. In 2022, landslides and flash floods killed 25 people, injured 26, and left 1,384 people homeless. In addition, 17,9% of the Italian coastline suffers from erosion and continues to worsen by the day.

Italy’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP) set aside 1.53 billion euros ($1.66 billion) to manage the risk of flooding and reduce hydrogeological risks which must be spent by 2026. The goal is to mitigate the existing risk of floods and landslides for 1.5 million people. However, according to Angelo Domenico Perrini, President of Centro Studi CNI, the research institute of the Italian Foundation of Engineers, local governments in Italy have identified 8,000 instances where public works are needed to prevent landslides and flooding and that their total cost would amount to 27 billion euros ($29 billion) by 2030.

Opportunities may exist for U.S companies with innovative solutions for hydro and geologic risk prevention and monitoring, engineering, land consolidation and reclamation, emergency equipment, and related sectors.

It is important to note that Italy is a mature and sophisticated market with excellent design, science, and engineering schools. Therefore, U.S. entrants may face strong competition from local companies and those from other European Union countries. The procurement and regulatory environments are complex and at times lack the transparency found in other developed economies. Therefore, it is often essential to work with a local partner for most opportunities that involve national and local government offices.

For more information on Italy’s disaster resiliency market, contact