Silvio Cristiano. Trained and qualified as a civil and environmental engineer at Università degli Studi Roma Tre, and later specialised in Habitat, Technology, and Development at Politecnico di Torino, Dr. Silvio Cristiano obtained a PhD cum laude on ecological and territorial themes. His award-winning dissertation was carried on among Università Iuav di Venezia, Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, and humanitarian NGO ‘Emergency’. Through a transdisciplinary approach, he deals with integrated sustainability by means of systems thinking and emergyaccounting, with frequent foci on civil works and urban studies as well as on the ecology – society nexus, including political and economic issues. He has had several international teaching, professional, and research experiences, and has received invitations as speaker (including keynote speaker), lecturer, and advisor within conferences, courses, and other international events. Besides serving the Minor in Sustainability at the Ca’ Foscari International College with didactic tasks since 2017, since 2018 Dr. Cristiano has been also involved – with a constant commitment and alternate contracts –as a post doc researcher within the present high-relevance Chinese-Italian cooperation project on urban metabolism and sustainability, at Italian universities Parthenope (Naples) and Ca’ Foscari (Venice), in collaboration with the School of Environment of Beijing Normal University, at which he spent a visiting period. Parallel to research and educational tasks, he has been involved as consultant, project coordinator, and designer in national and international planning, design, and cooperation projects.
How does the project “Analysis of the metabolism of urbanconglomerates and cooperative strategy of the circular economy” integrate with your research path?
This project blends in pretty well with my research interests, particularly well with an independent and honest approach to sustainability science,able to refer to and dialogue with the city andeven with economics, but starting from environmental sciences, from social ethics, and from an overall view, thus looking at the issues on a global scale and crossing the boundaries of single disciplines.
What is your specific contribution to the project? What are the possible applications of this research in the future?
I am one of the two researchers specifically hired for the project. I think I was initially involved because of my technical-scientific profile capable of ranging from urban to technological issues, associating ecology with design and planning. To the sea spects, I have progressively added my transdisciplinary approach, enriching pure operations of environmental accounting with social aspects, from the construction sector to impacts from tourism, from the agri-foodsupply chains to waste management, up to the sustainability, resilience, and overall priorities of an urban system in the medium-long run. I also take care of the relations between the scientific groups and our communication and dissemination partners.
Among the possible future applications of this research I see a tool to support the crucial decisions that cities are increasingly urgently called to take: for any choice to be made at any level, I believe it is essential to have sufficient and transparent information so as toincrease the number ofparticipantsin the debate and not to run into anyfaux pas: not optimisation at any cost, but rather a broader understanding of the implications of every choice.
During this project, you have carried out a research period in China. How do you evaluate your experience in China? What added value has it brought to your professional experience?
I got a better understanding of a context in whicha historical cultural background and the most recent economic dynamics coexist – the contex thosting the activities of my colleagues with whom I had already started to collaborate. If I encountered very different approaches to the same type of assessment, I certainly enriched and improved my intercultural dialogue skills.
What do you think are the most interesting aspects of the Chinese system for an Italian researcher?
During my stay in China I found a very young, dynamic, and international environment, with many very smart people also coming from other parts of Asia or even other continents. What struck me most was the means made available for research.
I am talking about both facilitiesand finances: we work much more serenely if we have guarantees, a stable salary and adequate and accessible funds for travel and publication; much less, if even those who have graduated from ten years have to wait six months or more between one annual contract and the other, sometimes downgraded to a semester “scholarship”, having to invent anything to make a livingwhile still doing research. All the people I have known in recent years, coming from China, shortly after the achievement of their PhD have become associate professors: perhaps this way one can work better, certainly with less difficulties and a greater dignity.