Modern flats' gas carbon discharge and electricity-bill could be halved by traditional mortar masonry rather than using concrete and/or synthetic materials. Similarly, 300 m 3 of water/hectare each day and 13 tons of carbon dioxide/hectare each year could be saved by irrigating arid farming regions through a system of horizontal tunnels, as Saharan (oasis) and Chinese farmers used to practice.
Moreover, 10 to 20 million tons of CO 2 can be yearly saved by building traditional stone terraces in order to prevent landslides; and by replacing those concrete dams that are often responsible for floods and landslides themselves.
As traditional ancient techniques, all of the above can be conceived as the result of a specific culture: of a regional knowledge able to tell us about local differences and local needs; as well as about the regional microclimate and the spirit of place. Thus, traditional techniques bring us to a better understanding of cultural differences and/or of their possible similarities. Some example can be found in water tanks built to collect and save rain-water, in green-roofs replacing air-conditioning systems, or even in those walls able to convey water and return it purified.
Despite the fact that they could provide essential solutions to the contemporary environmental and economic issues and consequently improve our quality of life, our contemporary society is loosing these sapient techniques.
The ITKI – International Traditional Knowledges Institute has thus been established in order to re-discover these ancient – but topical -traditional knowledges by creating a specific DataBase available to governors, local authorities, and citizens. As a matter of fact, the knowledge of traditional techniques will soon be lost without an accurate preservation-program.
The establishment of ITKI – International Traditional Knowledges Institute has been promoted by UNESCO in order to study and collect the million of ancient – but topical – engineering solutions to such issues as desertification, water and energy supply, floods, landslides, and energy waste. This innovative initiative has been officially presented on the 12 th of May 2010 in Florence , Italy . On the occasion, all Founder Members took part to the conference press: Pietro Laureano, UNESCO Consultant and President of IPOGEA; Luciano Bartolini, City Manager of Bagno a Ripoli, where the Institute's headquarter will be established; Renzo Crescioli, Florence Town Councillor for the Environment; Michael Carrington, Director of Nobrega Foundation; Paolo Del Bianco, President of Fondazione Romualdo Del Bianco and Promoter of Life Beyond Tourism for Intercultural Dialogue; Mauro Perini, President of Water Right Foundation.
Pietro Laureano states that “in order to preserve a human-friendly environment and landscape, the protection and restoration of monuments and sites it's no longer the only answer. Rather, we also have to look at the conservation and preservation of traditional knowledge and techniques, which are today part of our intangible heritage, and which will become fundamental elements in order to start the third industrial revolution: a green economy based on alternative energy solutions, no-gas emission, slow economy, and creative industry”. Pietro Laureano was UNESCO Consultant at Saharan oasis' environmental restoration, and during the intervention to the Sassi di Matera site. The latest, has been the first innovative European example of reuse of traditional knowledge and techniques.
“The reuse of traditional knowledge and techniques are essential components for the development of sustainable technologies and of a new pattern in human progress.”
UNESCO Vice-Director Francesco Bandarin took part in the official presentation through a Skype videocall, and stated that traditional knowledge and techniques:
“provide an immense deposit of opportunities that tend to disappear due to the wide diffusion of concrete structures and due to people's mobility. As it had happened in Italy during the 50s, this process is today ongoing in China , where 10million inhabitants migrate from rural to urban areas each year.”
We can today count on as many traditional techniques as the environmental and cultural diversities are. The ITKI will work on a base of 700 classified and identified ‘families' of techniques; and the database will became a World Bank for Traditional Knowledge that will be available to governors, local authorities, companies, and citizens. The communication and circulation of the relevant data will make them known as sustainable and innovative practices in the agricultural, architectural, urban, social, and environmental fields.Their application will provide important economic and energy savings .
Luciano Bartolini, City Manager of Bagno a Ripoli said that:
“Under the UNESCO flag, ITKI will speed the economic and environmental changes up. The Municipality of Bagno a Ripoli is proud of both hosting the ITKI headquarter and of actively participating to its establishment together with the Province of Florence, the Nobrega Foundation, and the Romualdo Del Bianco Foundation […] Tuscany is today setting an example of how to develop and safeguard our landscape, by preserving its traditional marks and character.”
The Romualdo Del Bianco Foundation can count on a network of universities and institutions spread on more than five continents; and it will thus certainly contribute to enrich the database. According to its orientation and project called Life Beyond Tourism for Intercultural Dialogue , the Foundation also wishes that ITKI will provide an opportunity to foster awareness on, and understanding of, different cultural expressions and skills – where awareness and understanding are the bases for mutual respect among people.
Florence , May 14th, 2010