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Towards Milan Digital Week 2021, Valentina Rizzi and the digital world that leaves no one behind

An intervention linked to the non-profit Acra, which deals with exploiting innovation and technologies to implement sustainable development projects all over the world, is scheduled for the next Milan Digital Week

Valentina Rizzi is project manager and responsible for the issues of world citizenship and education of Acra, a Milanese non-governmental organization that has been working for 50 years to guarantee right of access to food, water, education, energy and for the protection of the environment in twelve countries around the world. She will also be one of the protagonists of the next one Milan Digital Week 2021, a schedule of panels and virtual interventions focused on innovation, technology and sustainability that will take place from 17 to 21 March next (all the info on the official website).

Rizzi will tell just how new technologies and digital opportunities have changed some processes within the third sector activities, but above all how they can be tools to overcome contradictions and inequalities exacerbated precisely by a development at which all regions of the world are unable to keep pace. We interviewed her to get to know some of the issues it deals with.

Between smart working, tracking and a continuous flow of news, the year of the coronavirus was also the year of a powerful digital acceleration: what were the most relevant changes in the world of cooperation and solidarity?

“The Covid emergency in March last year pushed all of us operators in Italy and in countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia to rethink our work to continue interventions alongside the most vulnerable people, always putting guarantee at the center of everyone’s health in compliance with current regulations. For example, in countries like Italy and Chad, where since our birth we at Acra have been involved in education, we immediately took action to support the school, teachers and students, with PC donations or distance learning projects. (in Chad through the radio, which is the most widespread means of communication in the country) ”.

So will the digital changes underway be useful to you in the long term?

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“Digital, but above all the new technologies, which we used in projects since before the pandemic, proved to be a very valid tool to make our interventions more effective, often reducing costs and favoring the participation of citizens and the dissemination and use of data: I am thinking of the use of Arduino for the construction of rice dryers in Burkina Faso or OpenStreetmap for territorial planning in Chad or the use of GIS technologies of territorial geolocation for the mapping of water access projects in Senegal “.

It is clear that the pandemic has highlighted inequalities in our society and in the world more than many other phenomena: can we still be confident in a more equitable future?

“Many people are still excluded from what digital can offer both in Italy and in many countries of the world, and that the absence of an electricity network, a computer or a connection in many contexts can make the difference between a right guaranteed or denied. For this reason, we at Acra continue to work to guarantee the rights of all and in particular to reaffirm the right to education for all, in presence or at a distance, everywhere. While the pandemic has shown potential, it is undeniable that it has exacerbated inequalities, pushing people who were already in a situation of vulnerability into more precarious conditions. Even more so today we are even more aware that the great challenges of our societies, well summarized in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, are not the exclusive task of those who govern us, but the responsibility of every citizen ”.

This year’s Digital Week will focus precisely on equity and sustainability: what innovative tools do we have at our disposal to achieve these results?

“The experience of the pandemic has taught us all how important the action of the individual is, not only for the health and well-being of oneself but for the whole community. We have learned that the responsible behavior of each of us can make a difference in the fight against Covid-19. Let’s think about the theme of world hunger or access to healthy and sustainable food: each of us, as consumers, can know where it comes from and how it is produced and choose what is produced respecting the rights of farmers and respecting the environment by carrying out an act of active citizenship. Digital offers many solutions and opportunities to get to know, for example, the production chains, to get in touch with local producers who respect people and the environment, to have access to these products through home delivery services. This is just a small example of what the individual citizen can do to help build a more equitable and sustainable society, but the opportunities are many ”.

Valentina Rizzi will be among the protagonists of the new edition of Milan Digital Week, Fair and supportive city, scheduled from 17 to 21 March 2021.

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