Craft art, especially silk processing, has driven this area’s inclusive and sustainable development right from the start. This is the reason that the city of Como has submitted its nomination as a UNESCO Creative City in the Crafts & Folk Art cluster. The Creative Como site is aimed at presenting the details of the points expressed in the nomination file submitted to the UNESCO Commission.
Why should Como become part of the Network?
The city of Como and public and private institutions have been working for several years to activate, develop and create projects aimed at achieving goals in line with those of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network and UN2030. Admission to the Network would bring benefits to the local and national community and UCCNs:
- Como wants to strengthen the community that revolves around the manufacturing sector (around 25% of the area’s total economy, according to figures from the Como-Lecco Chamber of Commerce) and more precisely silk which has witnessed a decline in recent years (-5%) in terms of employment in the 2008-2015 international crisis years and which has not been completely recovered. Thus, the designation would have a significant impact for roughly 120,000 inhabitants of the province of Como, given that the families of more than 20,000 workers, more than 3,000 students and more than 6,000 businesspeople, artisans and merchants work in the textile industry (a total of over 30,000 people, who, with their families, involve more than 120,000 people). (SDGs 8, 9, 11 and 12)
- Como wants to be recognised on a worldwide level as the capital of Silk due to its unique creative abilities and its centuries-old tradition of Silk processing. The UCCN designation would provide new opportunities for exposure not just for workers and companies, but also for students, research centres and universities and the community of people that work at the Ratti Foundation and the Silk Museum. Even the towns of Cernobbio (5,000), Cantù (33,000) and Erba (16,000), although not directly part of the city of Como, are influenced by the creative assets. (SDGs 4, 6, 8 and 13)
- Como wants to reinforce the training and educational sector and promote the distribution and exchange of knowledge, sharing specific studies and research on a national and international level, especially with the UCC Network and undertaking joint endeavours and projects with areas that have a goal aimed at a modern, innovative and guided growth of the offering of its traditional knowhow. (4, 8, 9, 12 and 17)
Como for education and training
The educational offering regarding the manufacturing and textile field is vast. Graphics, design and fashion courses are present held at the “Ripamonti” public school (200 enrolled) and “IED-Accademia Galli” private school (200 enrolled), as well as the associazione Cometa with the artisan scientific secondary school (200 enrolled). Unesco awarded Cometa the Centro UNEVOC plate on 11 December 2018: it is one of the eight Unesco centres in the educational field and the only one in Italy in the Unesco-Unevoc, International Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training network.
Setificio is the only Italian school with a textile design course. Textile training for young technicians is also offered by Confindustria Como’s Enfapi (professional entities). The Ratti Foundation’s “research laboratory for artists” has been organising workshops, seminars and meetings since 1995 dedicated to experimenting with visual arts, enhancing the creativity of young artists. More than 500 young artists have been selected and 26 well-known artists and 11 curators have been invited.
Università Insubria’s presence in Como is significant. It offers an Industrial and textile chemistry course. This course, with around fifty students, is fundamental for the study and environmental sustainability of textile manufacturing and is of direct interest for local companies. Setificio is the most important textile secondary school and has more than 1500 enrolled.
The comON project, started in Como in 2008, is aimed at offering a high quality, inclusive and equal education and promoting learning opportunities for everyone. comON represents a full-fledged “European creativity hub”, able draw the most talented individuals to the city from the most prestigious international design schools and stimulate the dissemination of ideas with young local students and the area’s manufacturing companies. comON has a “local” section and an “international” one, to date it has involved 57,000 attendees at events, organised 100 meetings and performances open to the public, involved 32 schools in project activities, including 5 secondary schools, 27 universities and 220 textile designers participating in “Creativity Week”. The show “The New Eco: Trace.it” exceeded 1500 visitors in December 2018. A selection of the most creative ones was presented 13 February 2019 in Paris, for the Premiér Vision, an art showcase specifically created by the artist Mimmo Totaro, not just to highlight Como’s creativity, but also to celebrate the link between art and fashion. (SDGs 4, 8, 11, 12, and 17)
MUSEO VILLA BERNASCONI
Villa Bernasconi, part of the “Bastion of silk”, is an exceptional villa in Art Nouveau style, decorated with silk-inspired details (silkworms, silk moths and mulberry leaves). In collaboration with the Province of Como, the Municipality of Cernobbio renovated it in 2017 and transformed it into a place for cultural, social and economic innovation for young professionals. (SDGs 4, 10 and 11).
Como for research and development
The Stazione sperimentale della Seta-Innovhub is a research laboratory serving the textile-fashion sector; its job is to assist companies in carrying out research and innovation projects, with the aim of keeping the textile industry competitive. The public entity also has an online magazine “La Seta”. The Stazione sperimentale della Seta-Innovhub has also carried out and published an LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) on the Silk production chain. Also of note is the Centro Tessile Serico which performs analyses and research and the “Textile solution center”, a research, assistance, training and promotion center for digital textile printing. A joint endeavour is also underway between the “Como Seta” Committee, ITKIUS and Università Insubria for a research initiative on the “Silk Road” (project approved by the Ministry) and which is in line with the SDGs 5, 8 and 17.
Como for biodiversity
The Parco Regionale Spina Verde di Como, recognised as a Site of Community Importance (SCI) by the European Commission as of December 2009, prepared the project Life + organised into various actions, funded by the Commission through the LIFE programme. The purpose of the project is to promote the Park’s environmental heritage, increasing its biodiversity (SDGs 13, 14 and 15).
The project’s primary goal is to improve the quality of the SCI Spina Verde’s habitats, consequently increasing the general biodiversity level – there are more than 150 species of vertebrates here (birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals) which indicates how important the Park and its SCI are from a fauna and ecology standpoint – through actions targeted at protecting the priceless natural environments at risk of disappearing, particularly in terms of high priority European habitats. In detail, the specific aims of the Park are to:
- rationalise the information and data of a fauna nature into a single management plan for the SCI;
- improve the water and natural quality of the 9180 “forests of slopes” priority habitat, by enhancing the presence of certain species of amphibians and invertebrates in the area;
- improve the vegetation quality of 8210 “rocky slopes” including aimed at reducing the water risk and enhancing the specific microhabitats of birds of prey present in Spina Verde;
- enhance the ecological role of the priority habitats of Pannonian forests (91H0) and Castanea sativa woods (9260), through forest conservation, creation of wilderness areas and edible fruit areas;
- enhance the network of forest tracks to promote forest maintenance and pest control activities;
- conserve the priority habitats of the natural dystrophic lakes and ponds (3160) to increase the presence of amphibians protected by the habitats directive;
- disseminate, through a targeted communication plan, the knowledge of the Spina Verde SCI and activities planned to conserve, foster and improve biodiversity”.
RECOVERY OF SERICULTURE
The city of Como through the Silk Museum and the social cooperative “Tikvà Economie territoriali inclusive” which deals with systems for territorial development, has launched the Gelsibachicoltura project, now in its third edition, aimed at recovering the age-old practice of silk farming and involving prisoners, the disabled and children in social cooperatives, in line with the SDGs 8 and 11.
Como for social
The “Il Mosaico” cooperative with former prisoners involved in rehabilitation projects harvest the mulberries and produce jams with the disabled who work in the cooperative. The jams are sold with the association “I Pesi massimi” which uses profits from the sales to support social projects (SDGs 1, 2 and 16). Tikvà launched two other projects with silk farming: a small one, with educational purposes, at the Oasi Mosaico and the other in Tremezzina, again with people with disabilitie
LAKE TO LAKE: COMO FOR AFRICA
The project originated to support and facilitate sustainable development in developing countries, aimed at pursuing the UN2030 goals and SDGs 1, 2, 4, 5, 16 and 17.
Founded based on the principles of the Declaration of San Cristobal De Las Casas, and in line with the UN2030 goals and SDGs 5, 11, 16 and 17, the “Creative Textile” project is aimed at promoting inclusiveness and overcoming gender, ethnic and racial discrimination.
Connections to other UNESCO networks
Como is the founder of the UN “Peace Messenger City” Network (1987) and currently promotes friendship initiatives between world cities and populations. It collaborates with sister cities Fulda (Germany), Tokamachi (Japan), Nablus (Palestine) and Netanya (Israel) with the “Intrecci di Popoli” initiative, Festival of cultures and folk arts and cooperation.
The Università dell’Insubria received the UNESCO Chair on Gender Equality and Women’s Rights in 2018.
The Associazione Cometa is a UNESCO “UNEVOC Centre” one of the 8 UNESCO “International Center for Technical and Vocational Education and Training worldwide”, the only one currently in Italy. Click here for more information.