The Po river basin is the largest water catchment area in Italy. Its surface area is approximately 74,000 square kilometres, of which about 71,000 are located in Italian territory, one quarter of the entire national territory. The rest is mostly located in Switzerland (Toce river basin) and for a small part in France. The territory of the basin concerns about 3,200 municipalities, seven regions: Piedmont, Valle d’Aosta, Lombardy, Veneto, Liguria, Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany, and the Autonomous Province of Trento. The population living in the basin is about 16 million inhabitants.
Considering the density of the land, the established production activities, the infrastructure and the degree of utilization of the water resource, the Po basin represents an exceptionally varied reality, a neuralgic point of the national economy.
In this area, 40 per cent of gross domestic product is formed; 37 per cent of the national industry, which supports 46 per cent of jobs; 55 per cent of animal husbandry in only 5 provinces; 35 per cent of agricultural production. Electricity consumption is 48 per cent of the national consumption.
Although the Po river basin is characterized by high exposure in terms of population and properties, this case study takes into consideration the risk that drought causes to agricultural production in the region. In the future the basin of the river Po will see, due to climate change, a change in the annual average water availability and a greater frequency and intensity of extreme events. This scenario, powered by the socioeconomic transformations that are underway, may cause a tendency of excessive and, nonetheless, unsustainable exploitation of natural resources, such as water and soil.
In essence, there will be a general rise in temperatures and a parallel reduction in precipitation. In addition extreme events, maximum temperatures and precipitation will be more frequent. The change in climate has already cause losses up to 14 billion in Italy in the past decade and the many Italian region in the Po basin have requested the activation of the state of emergency in 2017. Therefore drought is the primary hazard taken into consideration. Despite farmers have already implemented measures for the rational use of water, the development of low impact irrigation systems and innovation with less demanding hydro-crops, local and national authorities advocate for the implementation of structural interventions that can help store the water during more rainy times. In this context green infrastructures represent a sustainable and cost effective adaptation option for the Po river basin.