Italian green reporting law wins approval

Politicians, NGOs, welcome bid to oblige public authorities to produce annual environmental accounts

Italian politicians and NGOs yesterday welcomed approval by the Senate, or upper house of parliament, for a bill obliging national, regional and local authorities to include environmental accounts in their annual budgets. These will evaluate the environmental impact of policies in different sectors and be used to gauge their sustainability.

The environmental auditing bill is now being considered by the house of deputies. If it becomes law, it will apply to local authorities with populations over 100,000 from 2004, and from 2008 for smaller ones.

Speaking at a seminar on environmental accounting held in Rome yesterday, numerous prominent political figures queued up to welcome the new measure and to stress its importance.

"Eco-accounting is a useful instrument to measure the effectiveness and cost of environmental policies, which are currently groping around in the dark. It also serves to evaluate the sustainability of economic policies," said Italy's environment minister Edo Ronchi. "We must understand that environmental accounting also produces greater economic efficiency," he added.

"We need a law that will transfer environmental auditing knowledge to daily political decision-making," said Fausto Giovannelli, chair of the Senate's environment committee, and one of the originators of the bill. "It is important to keep putting across the message that we need to be able to audit every budgetary and planning decision environmentally."

Fabio Mussi, parliamentary leader of the political group Democrats of the Left added his praise for the measure. "It is not environmental constraints but the waste of natural resources that slows down the economy. Environmental accounting can only bring economic advantages," he said.

"It is to be hoped the bill will become law within the lifetime of this Parliament. If environmental parameters are really to be built into the economy, we need a general report on the state of the Italian environment," junior finance minister Giorgio Macciotta told the seminar. "Environmental policies and greater allocation of resources to these need to be included in the economic and financial planning document (DPEF) and the budget," he added.

Italian environmental groups have also backed the new law, with Gianfranco Bologna of the World Wide Fund for Nature Italy hoping that through the measure, "we could be about to see a real cultural revolution, whereby the law can no longer flout environmental values".

Follow Up:
Italian parliament, tel: +39 06 67 601.

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