Extreme climate events: the areas most at risk in Italy according to an ENEA study


Emma Potter

Italian regions at greatest risk

The regions with the highest number of deaths and municipalities involved are:

  • Trentino Alto Adige (73 deaths and 44 municipalities);
  • Lombardy (55 deaths and 44 municipalities);
  • Sicily (35 deaths and 10 municipalities);
  • Piedmont (34 deaths and 28 municipalities);
  • Veneto (29 deaths and 23 municipalities);
  • Abruzzo (24 deaths and 12 municipalities).

A high number of municipalities at risk were also found in Emilia Romagna (12 municipalities), Calabria (10 municipalities) e Liguria (10 municipalities). Among the high risk regions there is also the Val d'Aostawith 8 deaths, a very high number if we take into account the number of total inhabitants.

“At a demographic level there were victims 297 men and 81 women. The reason for this disparity between the sexes could be linked, at least in part, to different lifestyles, the activities carried out, the home-work journeys and the different times spent outdoors”, underlines Claudia Dalmastri.

Mountain municipalities and intrinsic fragility

According to the ENEA study, approximately 50% of the 247 Italian municipalities with at least one death are located in mountainous or sparsely populated centres. These places are pjointly vulnerable to extreme meteorological-hydrogeological events, and rescue interventions can be difficult.

Broad Spread of Risk

From the ENEA study it emerges that over 90% of Italian municipalities and over 8 million inhabitants are at risk due to extreme climate eventsmainly landslides and floods – as we are seeing again in recent weeks. In the period from January to May 2023, 122 extreme weather events occurred, with a 135% increase compared to the previous year (data Legambiente 2023). The most affected regions were Emilia-Romagna, Sicily, Piedmont, Lazio, Lombardy and Tuscany. All these areas, with the exception of Lazio, were in fact also identified as at risk in the ENEA study.

“Extreme weather events are increasing in frequency and intensity due to climate changeswith dramatic consequences on territories and populationsin particular on the over 65s, whose percentage in Italy has increased by 24% in 20 years. Know the highest risk areas also for the associated mortality it therefore becomes fundamental for defining priority intervention actionsallocate economic resources, establish warning measures and undertake prevention and mitigation actions to protect the territory and its inhabitants”, concludes Raffella Uccelli.