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ARCO is a University Research Centre that offers research, consulting and training services. With more than 10 years of experience in Local Development and Circular Economy, Social Economy, Inclusive Development, M&E and Impact Evaluation and Sustainable Commodities. ARCO’s actions combine scientific rigour and practical solutions. The centre operates at national and international level in 33 countries.

ARCO, founded in 2008 at PIN S.c.r.l. (Polo Universitario della Città di Prato), relies on the expertise of economists, statisticians, political scientists, sociologists and commodity scientists and embraces a multi-disciplinary approach.

Leonardo Borsacchi, Coordinator of the Circular Innovation & Sustainable Commodities Unit, replies to our questions.
ACR+: Why have you joined ACR+, what are your expectations regarding your membership to the network?
L.B.: In order to overcome barriers and facilitate the transition to the circular economy and sustainable development at urban level, collaborations with international networks offer a decisive contribution. We decided to join ACR+ because we are well aligned on the meaning of sustainable development at local level and because we share a similar interpretation on the future vision of cities.

ACR+: How do you cooperate with local and regional authorities?
L.B.: ARCO provides technical and scientific support to the Municipality of Prato on topics such as circular economy, social innovation and sustainable farming. The centre has also supported the Municipality of Prato within the Urban Agenda Partnership on Circular Economy (UAPCE). Further collaborations are in place with the Tuscany Region (mainly concerning SDGs localisation), with the Metropolitan City of Florence and other Italian local and regional authorities (e.g. Unione Comuni Val di Sieve, Comune di Bevagna, Felcos Umbria), as well as with municipalities and territorial authorities even at international level.

ACR+: Could you tell us more about your role in the UAPCE?
L.B.: ARCO, together with the Municipality of Prato, participated in the meetings of the UAPCE. In that occasion, we coordinated two main actions, namely:

  • The review of the legislation on urban and industrial wastewater treatment for agricultural purposes. A position paper was elaborated for the EU Parliament to advocate for a change in the current legislation in order to facilitate the use of reclaimed treated water.
  • The publication of a Handbook on Circular Re-Use of Spaces and Buildings which provides several examples and best practices of a new integrated strategy for the management of urban areas. The regeneration of urban spaces and abandoned or underused buildings can become an opportunity to create new jobs and carry out positive actions of collaborative economy, social innovation, as well as the creation of start-ups. An Italian version of the handbook is currently under review.

ACR+: We can imagine that this work is inspiring further local cooperation with the Municipality of Prato?
L.B.: Yes, together we created the three-year-long programme Prato Circular City (PCC). PCC's methodology is inspired by the UAPCE, such as the active and collaborative discussion on practical solutions, but PCC expected actions and results will be very different, more focused on the transition to circular economy at local level. Under this framework, we will coordinate a discussion with key stakeholders that will tackle the following:

  • Textile & Clothing District and industrial symbiosis;
  • Urban resource management;
  • Circular consumption;
  • Sustainable urban farming.

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