Interview with Federico Aili, Associate Programs and Engagement at Resilient Cities Network

The REACHOUT series of interviews aims at collecting more personal views from colleagues developing and applying climate services for urban adaptation and resilient development, get more insight on the state of knowledge, the main ongoing discourse, and get a more concrete view of what their work encompasses. A sneak peek, so to say, behind the jargon and throbbing sentences used in policy documents and research proposals. Throughout the project, team members will complete a round of interviews. One colleague will interview another, and the interviewed colleague then conducts the following interview of the next team member and so on. As each member interviews and gets interviewed in this manner, all topics will be covered over the duration of this project. 

Read our latest interview featuring Federico Aili, Associate Programs and Engagement at Resilient Cities Network in Rotterdam, the Netherlands by Sophie van der Horst, adviser at Climate Adaptation Services.

‘Thanks to the collaboration with colleagues from the municipalities, you get a better idea of what is really happening on the ground, and what the challenges and the struggles that cities face are.’ 

Hi Federico! We recently worked together on the learning module of the Triple-A Toolkit and we met at the General Assemblies. I am already really looking forward to the next General Assembly! What has been your REACHOUT highlight so far?

Hello, Sophie! Thanks for your questions. The General Assembly was definitely an important moment for me as it was my first opportunity to meet all partners and colleagues in person after one year of REACHOUT. In terms of activities, the Learning Program for city-hubs, coordinated by Resilient Cities Network, has been a highlight so far. We are currently halfway through the program and I am looking forward to the upcoming modules in 2023 and 2024. The first part was more general, while in the upcoming modules we will focus more on service delivery and implementation. In general, I find all the engagement activities with our seven city-hubs very interesting. Thanks to the collaboration with colleagues from the municipalities, you get a better idea of what is really happening on the ground, and what the challenges and the struggles that cities face are. You also see their ambitious goals and sincere commitments, and you appreciate more the hard work they are doing.

As you are Italian and moved to the Netherlands, what do you miss most from Italy?

I will be boring and I am going to reply to this question in the way that you probably would expect: the food and the weather. Nevertheless, the quality of life in the Netherlands is high, so there is not much else to complain about.

We are already 1.5 year in the project now and you have been working a lot on the learning programme. What are the lessons learned for you so far?

I really enjoy working in REACHOUT and I find it interesting, both from a technical point of view (the development of the tools) and for what concerns the stakeholder engagement processes. I think the most critical aspect is to match the tools developed by the consortium partners with the real needs and priorities of cities. The challenge is how cities can integrate these tools into their daily practice, aligning the development of climate services within policy processes. Cities are always anchored to a specific political and administrative context, therefore not everything is always possible. It is important that technical partners provide support and actionable knowledge. In REACHOUT, we have identified a technical ‘liaison partner’ for each city-hubs, and I believe it is a model that is working quite well.

As an urban planner, do you have an example of a city with a high level of sustainability and resilience?

Luckily, I work for a global network of cities and we constantly see several examples of cities that work to become more resilient and sustainable in different continents. I had the opportunity to live in Milan and Rotterdam (both cities are member of Resilient Cities Network), and I would like to acknowledge the efforts they have been undertaking. I find Rotterdam inspiring, modern, and innovative, both in terms of climate and social resilience. Milan faces issues with regard to air quality and car-dependency, but there are valuable initiatives on public spaces, nature-based solutions and mobility. I do not mean to say that everything is perfect in these cities, but for sure there are good examples to look at when we talk about resilience and sustainability. Currently, I live in The Hague: I appreciate the scale of the city, its green spaces and the good connectivity i.e., the wide availability of public transport alternatives and bike lanes.

We still have almost two more years to work on REACHOUT. What will make the project a success for you?

The core of the work in REACHOUT is the delivery of a series of climate service to cities across Europe. It would be an excellent achievement if at the end of project our city hubs will be able to make effective and continuous use of these tailored services to support climate adaptation plans and deal with climate risks. At the same time, another important success factor is to build robust evidence, providing successful examples, identifying the enabling conditions, and strengthening the collaboration with the network of services provides, platforms and key stakeholders.

Thank you very much for this interview.  Can you tell us who will be the next person to interview and what would you like to find out?

Yes! I would like to interview Jaroslav Mysiak, Director of the research division Risk Assessment and Adaptation Strategies (RAAS) at CMCC and hear more about his experience in risk assessment and adaptation strategies on climate risk related tools.

Not available yet

The climate story of Gdynia​

Short summary: A story about Jan and Maria during extreme precipitation.

Theme: Flooding

End user: Citizens

Link to the story: under construction