EUTR implementation in the Italian wood-energy sector: Role and impact of (ongoing) digitalisation
Illegal logging is a global problem associated with deforestation, climate change, and biodiversity loss with significant negative economic, environmental, and social impacts. In response to this phenomenon, European Union has enacted the European Timber Regulation (EUTR) that imposes economic operators to exercise due diligence thanks to traceability verifications. These are mainly based on a “paper-based” approach, with implementation issues as a consequence. Italy is a interesting case study, since it is the first importer of wood-energy biomass worldwide, where tons of fuelwood without clear traceability are imported every year, and EUTR enforcement still lags behind. Here, a Living Lab involving stakeholders and key informants, carried out a participatory and open assessment of the impact of digital technologies on EUTR enforcement and traceability in the national wood-energy sector. Results reveals that, even if digitalisation is at the first stage, it is far from being only a technological phenomenon since it is already able to impact on different aspects (social, economic, territorial, institutional) related to the EUTR application. Policymakers are therefore recommended to rely on holistic evaluations and approaches that recognise such a complexity, in order to foster a creation of a viable digital ecosystem in favour of EUTR implementation and traceability in the wood-energy sector.