Simone Mangili: Remaking Turin: Striving for Sustainability and Resiliency in Uncertain Times

Skyline of Turin, Italy with a mountain backdrop

photo / Tiziano Photography

Russell Van Nest Black Lecture

Simone Mangili (M.R.P. '06) is currently aide to the mayor of Torino, Italy, as well as aide to the deputy mayor for environment and sustainability. In this political capacity, he is responsible for managing strategic planning projects requiring cross-sector collaboration as well as developing policy and delivering projects to realize an ambitious sustainability agenda for the 21st century. Prior to joining the mayor's team, Mangili was head of projects and operations at Torino Internazionale where he managed metropolitan strategic planning processes including development of the metropolitan area's third strategic plan — Torino Metropoli 2025.

Mangili's international experience ranges from real estate consulting and development to designing public engagement processes to building private-public partnerships for the development of parks and green infrastructure. In addition to his professional experience, Mangili has served as traveling faculty in World Learning's Cities in the 21st Century study abroad program and is an external lecturer at the Polytechnic University of Turin in territorial and environmental planning. Mangili holds a bachelor's degree in community, regional, and environmental studies from Bard College and a master of regional planning degree from Cornell University.


Turin, Italy, is a city that knows how to reinvent itself, having done so numerous times over the past 2,000 years, building on previous vocations or developing entirely new ones. In the current remaking phase, more than 20 years in the making, the city has adopted three strategic plans with various levels of success in implementation. The city has not only transformed from the 20th-century industrial hub of Italy's economic miracle but also emerged from the bleak post-industrial gloom of the 80s and 90s. Take a stroll through central Turin today and between hip restaurants and sophisticated cafés you would encounter a culturally-rich tech and innovation hub with more than 110,000 university students. Pristine baroque architecture graces large swaths of the historic core and elegant public spaces reward curious tourists for venturing beyond Italy's more famous sites. Urban renewal has turned abandoned brownfields into mixed-use neighborhoods, rethinking transportation infrastructure has helped heal physical scars, and new open space meets the needs of evolving demographics.

As is often the case, while renewal has delivered evident improvements to the central, more affluent areas, not all neighborhoods have fared equally well. Economic contraction following the great recession significantly strained the transition process while sociospatial segregation has increased, creating new geographies of need. A political upset in 2016 ushered in a young, ambitious "populist" administration with a drive for change and a sustainability and equity agenda. The latest strategic action plan goes beyond economic restructuring to confront the very real issues of sustainability and resilience in a context of severe financial austerity, national political upheaval, and European introspection. How did we get here and how does the city currently measure up on sustainability indicators? What exactly do we mean by a resilient Turin? How do you prioritize sustainability objectives when indebtedness and austerity limit public investment and social vulnerability persists? And how realistic are such ambitions given the current political winds?

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