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Re-thinking, re-design, re-use are the keywords of the ecological economy that seek to link social, economic and environmental aspects together. These fundamental principles can be observed in the theories proposed by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and are the basis of the new discipline called “Circular Economy.” Recent studies seem to advise that the transition to sustainability (Foro Springtif 2015) is being stopped for political, cultural, economic, and infrastructural reasons. This article shows and discusses, through presenting different case studies, the situation of the circular economy applied to peri-urban greenways and waterfronts. Presenting obstacles and opportunities, the researchers want to give some advice and trace a method capable of shifting from a linear economy to a circular economy in urbanism and land management.

The focus on the historical link between cities and water, shows that the linear economy is in a continuous relationship of love and hate, thanks to the force of the water and the engineering knowledge of the human beings: a strong relationship when water was used for the industrial revolution, of distance and fear when the water was wide and polluted. In the last decade, this relationship seems to be skipped. Thanks to climate change, flood events appear to occur with increasing frequency and intensity, but municipalities allow industry and logistical compounds to settle near the rivers, affecting the aquifer.

The paradigm shift to a circular economy should include a democratic society where citizens are promoting different lifestyles and push the decision-makers to develop new strategy and policy. This new vision is well applied in different contexts but doesn’t seem to be able to face and influence the protection of the last ecological corridors present in peri-urban areas, the reclaiming of derelict and polluted industrial areas, and the development of a virtuous approach to new industrial and logistical settlements.

The conclusion of the paper collects positive case studies, using them to show some methods and strategies able to drive the change through a new balance between ecological restoration and economic development. Re-thinking, re-design, re-use are keywords of the ecological economy that seek to link social, economic and environmental aspect together.



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