Beyond the Haze: Shanghai’s Green Transformation and the Future of Global Security in a Cup of Coffee

These days, I am back in Shanghai, a city I used to frequent assiduously when the Future Food Institute had its presidium here at UNIDO’s Center for Excellences before the pandemic. I walk, observe new tourists (very few from Europe), work, listen, meet, study, and reflect on the evolutions. The Tian Zi Fang market is deserted, and the wet markets have changed faces, but the city is as vibrant again as it was then and continues to remain for me the mecca of paradoxes and a source of stimulation and suggestion.

Urban regeneration is proceeding rapidly, and this is evidenced by the enlightened people I have met in recent days. Having decided to change their lives, they tell me about their “Pollica” in the heart of China, where location and a return to a deep connection with the land influence strategic lifestyle choices and spatial planning.

Social and WhatsApp work without VPNs, but by now, the “cashless” life already knows everything about us because everything goes through there; you can’t live without Alipay, and if you’re a good citizen, the system rewards you.

Talk to younger people, and you realize how proud they are of the city’s green turn: increasingly perfect, majestic, and livable at the same time, clean, safe, green, and silent. Incredibly silent because now only electric cars run around and, despite the perennial haze, the air is cleaner than in Milan. I keep listening to them to understand how their habits are changing, their fears, and who our children will have to deal with. And for the first time since I have been in China, I hear the children talk about the fear of war. We are united by the same concerns and the desire for a healthier planet. It seems strange that we live at the same wavelength.

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