Active European citizenship starts at school, when local governments and secondary education students meet in the name of environment and health. The EU LIFE+Environment Policy and Governance project GIOCONDA calls young 11 to 17 years old to monitor their territories evaluating risk perception through data and figures collection and interpretation.
The project, funded by the EU Commission, gathers local authorities (municipalities, health authorities), regional agencies for environmental protection (ARPA – Emilia Romagna and Puglia) and scientific bodies (Institute of Clinical Physiology, National Research Council).
Heart of the project: Italy from north to south. Genova (Liguria region), Ravenna (Emilia Romagna region) San Miniato (Tuscany) Naples (Campania) and Taranto (Puglia) including seaside and countryside pollute areas are among the areas selected because of their diverse populations and economic characteristics, in order for the sample of data collected to be reliable and generate new policies adaptable to most regions.
Ultimate goal: bringing evidence to local decision makers and determine a change in policy to guarantee improvement of health standards and reduction of pollution and its harsh impact on health, especially of young and most vulnerable.
GIOCONDA‘s parameters of research and standards definition derive from WHO which estimates that 23% of deaths globally and 26% of mortality in children under five are caused by modifiable environmental factors.
In Italy in particular figures are concerning: 70,000 premature deaths per year (WHO 2012 data) are caused by pollution and its impact on environment and, only in 2010, 32.447 people died due to diseases caused of air pollution.
The project includes collecting and evaluating data on impact not only of air pollution but also of noise on our health through questionnaires on perceptions. According to WHO about 40% of the EU urban population is exposed to road traffic noise at levels above 55 dB (weighted decibels measurement). Incredibly high also the percentage of people exposed to high levels of traffic noise (exceeding 55 dB) during the night: more than 30% affecting sleep and health.
The main exciting and relevant core of GIOCONDA is putting young opinions and perceptions of environment changes, pollution and climate change to the attention of local authorities and decision makers empowering students through the awareness and power of data collection.
The project brings also students far and beyond of schools premises and environment, turning them into valuable protagonists of the local social and political dynamics through direct contact with local public administrations enabling their talent of active citizens and, like the branded manifesto states: ”The young count in the decisions on environment and health”.
Brussels 28 April 2018