Torino Internazionale | A new strategic plan


Giuseppe Berta, Bocconi University / Co-ordinator of the 2nd Strategic Plan


The Strategic Plan is a local development programme in a mid to long-term perspective, in a context of great economic and social change. Torino is today facing exactly such a situation, tackling an important transformation of its economic system and social structure.

The city is seeing a "retreat" from material production, the pivot of society for the whole 20th century, in line with what is happening in other countries: we can just note that 70% of the entire European economy is now generated by services, while the same transformation occurred even earlier in the United States. Faced with the crisis of the Fordist economy, Torino is seeking out ways to react, to avoid economic recession, managing the inevitable transition positively and not as a denial of the city's past identity. The key to achieving this goal is investment in human capital and innovation, making the most of its legacy of existing skills. This is the linchpin behind the thinking that underpins the architecture of the city's 2nd Strategic Plan, presented on 1 February last year after a year and a half of work.

The thematic areas and lines of action of the 2nd Strategic Plan are the result of the selection of a number of threads which, if followed consistently right to the end, are bound to leave Torino with a new configuration, a clear-cut alternative to its 20th century past. What Torino needs now is, first and foremost, to complete its investment policy, finishing a cycle of projects and works that will help to increase raise citizens' awareness of the dimensions of the changes tackled. It is now time, in fact, to assess the breadth of the innovations that, in the last five years, have become part of the local system, but also for the population to realise how they have transformed lifestyles and ways of working. Torino must, therefore, come to grips with the change it has made, directing its resources and energy to ensure the completion of the transition underway.

The scenario for these lines of development is the trend towards a society increasingly oriented to the production and delivery of services (even if of a industrial nature), using the leverage of the so-called knowledge economy. It should be noted that the knowledge economy does not mean merely enhancing competencies of excellence, but striving to raise the level of knowledge of the entire local society, so as to enrich the position of the inhabitants and improve the range of opportunities, both professional and social, available to them. In this framework, totally new significance is assumed by the relationship between knowledge, innovation and industrial development, and it highlights how this relationship becomes positive only through an alliance between the systems of research and education, politics, industry and society.

This specific vision explains why, in the 2nd Strategic Plan, dimensions such as culture, the local area and the urban environment are integral parts of the strategy of transformation described. A society oriented towards rewarding the capacity to produce and diffuse knowledge does not, in fact, close these dimensions in watertight compartments, isolated from the driving forces of economic dynamics. On the contrary, it tends to integrate them closely and bond them in an all-embracing search for urban quality, an indispensable condition for the effectiveness of the strategic development process.

This means striving to not separate the economic development aspect from other aspects, but creating instead a single context capable of grafting different elements onto a common core. The structure of the Plan intends to reflect these inspirations. It is no chance that it opens on the theme of education, which is closely related to the sectors of creativity and cultural production. The problems of economic development are traced back to a root of industrial transformation with references to the automotive, ICT and aerospace sectors.

These are economic areas that are usually in pioneering territory, contiguous to the traditional terrain of industrial development, but also the expression of dynamics of change at the crossroads between production structures and design and engineering services. Local planning needs are intimately connected to the process of economic conversion, in that their immediate representation is found in urban forms. The territory is, in fact, the first element that requires governance, so that the hubs for transport, mobility and logistics can be re-defined to accompany economic transformation. There are then the questions of employment, health and the environment, and reflection on the legacy of the Olympics to exploit the opportunity of the Winter Games not as an isolated and exceptional event, but rather as a vehicle of change.

The crucial role assumed in this work by the local authorities which are the main players in and supporters of the Plan should be clear. However, the capacity for a self-driven recovery of the local economy depends largely on the initiative of the private sector. This is why the 2nd Strategic Plan is not a summary of expectations and demands around the role of the public sector, but aims to identify instruments and projects that, in a shared scenario, can strengthen the field of action of public and private actors at all levels. The latter must see public bodies not as a mere abstract regulator, but a constant and reliable point of reference, respecting the independence of all players.