The European Green New Deal offers a new model of development and growth for the European Union that entails a new approach to daily life, social practices, habits – including dietary ones –, and, lastly, behaviours. Faced with this change, which is required of us, a question immediately arises: can the goals set by President Ursula von der Leyen be attained without taking into account a legacy that, inevitably, binds us to the past?
Perhaps they can. This is why some young, enterprising European citizens have founded Liberland: not a fictional tale, but real, contemporary history.
Indeed, Liberland is a tiny state situated between Croatia and Serbia, founded in 2015, once it had been ascertained that neither of the two neighbouring nations claimed possession of this piece of land. And so it became the ideal place to try and build a world where the past would no longer haunt the present.
“Repurposing is always hard. The legacies of the past, a fear of change, the social cost that change brings are, at times, obstacles difficult to overcome” says Francesco Vatalaro, engineer and professor at the Tor Vergata University of Rome. ”In Liberland, the third smallest state in the world, and also the youngest, it’s all about starting from scratch. Since I learned about this experiment, I’ve been following it with interest and curiosity, because the strength and rigour with which the young self-proclaimed citizens of Liberland choose to approach life is thrilling.”
This small state’s first challenge is building what the rest of the world would call a futuristic city. The goal is to create an urban space entirely managed through methods based on eco-sustainability, in order to transform the 7 square km of land along the Danube into a tangible example of a city founded in line with 21st-century priorities.
“Having the chance to review all our paradigms is stimulating” continues Francesco Vatalaro, ”this is virgin territory, just like the American Western frontier in the 1800s; it’s also an ideal opportunity to reshape the relationships that exist between the real and digital worlds following criteria that embody respect for nature and for the environment in general. Redesigning the world, today, it’s a challenge, a dream. If we had a magic wand and we could rebuild it, how would we do it? I find the notion of a virgin territory very attractive, as introducing change in nation states where rules and laws are already deep-rooted and have become emblematic expressions of national belonging, is a difficult task.”