Event Summary: How to Promote Sustainable Development – Case Studies from the Wigwam Network

Community based efforts help save the environment

On April 22 the Global Policy Institute and Bay Atlantic University hosted a webinar titled:

How to Promote Sustainable Development – Case Studies from the Wigwam Network

Event Summary

Avelio Marino provided a good illustrative example of the Wigwam Network methodology. He described the reality of a mountain area in Central Italy, known as Monti Sibillini, that had no viable economy and had been therefore semi-abandoned by its inhabitants since young people had no viable work prospects. Wigwam experts however soon realized that the area true riches were and are in its pristine nature. They engaged in a campaign aimed at having Italy’s government designating the region as a National Park. While this lobbying effort took many years, in the end the designation provided the springboard for the launching of many activities led by the local population. The National park designation was used to attract eco-tourists from Italy, Europe and the US. Furthermore, a grassroots initiative put a spotlight on truffles, a culinary delicacy abundant in the region, and later on on a species of apples grown in the mountains. Music and art festivals attracted more visitors. Finally, acting in concert with floriculturists who reintroduced various species of flowers, the ancient art of beekeeping was revamped, this way leading to the production of high quality honey. In all this the Wigwam Network acted as a catalyst and supporter of local “bottom-up” initiatives.

Massimo Ciarla explained how the Wigwam Network supported an ambitious multi-year effort aimed at saving Venice. The historic city was the victim of repeated floods caused by high tides, (made worse in recent years by rising sea levels), while its vast lagoon was in disrepair. Thanks in large measure to Wigwam, with the concurrence of many actors and the mobilization of large funds, major mechanical barriers were eventually built and placed at the openings of the lagoon, in order to block major high tides. At the same time, the complex lagoon ecosystem of islands and sand bars has been partially rehabilitated. This was followed by the return of many birds and other species. While the effort to save Venice and its surrounding lagoon are still underway, the Wigwam Network played and will play a critical role in mobilizing resources and creating interest in this vast undertaking. Ciarla also announced that Wigwam Network has established a chapter here in the East Coast of the US. Its primary focus will be on coastal communities and efforts aimed at mitigating the negative impact of rising sea levels caused by the melting of glaciers.

Full Video:



Efrem Tassinato, Founder and President of the Wigwam Network

Efrem Tassinato is an Italian environmental journalist. He is Founder and President of the Wigwam Network, created in 1972. He studied agriculture and forestry sciences. As a journalist, he serves as Head of the National Secretariat of UNAGA – the Italian National Union of Journalists’ Associations of Agriculture, Food, Environment, Territory, Forests, Fishing and Renewable Energy. He is a member of the National Council of the FNSI – National Federation of the Italian Press. He is Delegate on the Board of ENAJ – European Network Agricultural Journalists. He is Alternate Delegate in IFAJ – International Federation Agricultural Journalists. Since 1990 he has been the Chief Editor of “Wigwam News”, the magazine of the Wigwam Circuit.

Avelio Marini, Head of International Relations of the Wigwam Network

Avelio Marini has a long track record working on sustainable local development issues, beginning with the creation of protected natural areas, such as the establishment of the Sibillini Mountains National Park. As a local administrator, he sponsored important initiatives on the environment, tourism, culture, and rural development; with the goal of connecting many local communities via the creation of global networks. With focus on local producers, he promotes local quality products, both in Italy and abroad. He is part of the Wigwam Circuit where he serves as National Councilor and Delegate for International Relations and to FAO in the Mountain Partnership. He collaborates with Wigwam News with the Weekly Ten News, the latest product of the Wigwam Circuit magazine.

Massimo Ciarla, President and CEO of Tiber International Group Inc.

Mr. Ciarla is a professional engineer with more than thirty years of experience in executive board and managerial positions.

He is presently the President and CEO of Tiber International Group Inc., a Strategy Advisory company, he co-founded in 2015 which focuses on Infrastructures and Energy, serving Clients in   the engineering, construction and industrial products in the areas of Wind, Solar, Geothermal and Infrastructure Development. Mr. Ciarla is the Principal of MC5 Consulting Group Inc., a consulting company for Mining civil works and for improving Coastal Resilience to Climate Changes, he founded in 2015. (2015-present) Mr. Ciarla is the North America Correspondent (2021) of the Wigwam Network that promotes the sustainable cultural, social, economic and environment development of Local Communities, with the emphasis on Coastal Communities. Mr. Ciarla has worked in many countries such as Bolivia, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, Italy, Russia, Mexico and USA, and in different strategic management positions and responsibilities in the fields of highway design, soil erosion and sediment control, coastal erosion mitigation, geo-hazard protection, dewatering and sediment management, renewable energy and mining solutions. Mr. Ciarla has held positions as President (1995-2011) and Executive Chairman (2012-2015) of Maccaferri Inc., the American subsidiary of Officine Maccaferri, a worldwide leader in soil stabilization, soil erosion and sediment control, flooding protection works, soil retaining structures, coastal protection works, dewatering and sediment management and mining   solutions. He fostered and implemented strategic planning and nationwide intelligence operations to all five Company Business Units and operating Departments. Mr. Ciarla is fluent in English, Italian and Spanish. Mr. Ciarla holds a MSCE PE Degree in Civil and Hydraulic Engineering earned from the Department of Engineering, “La Sapienza” University of Rome (Italy) in 1975.


Paolo von Schirach, President, Global Policy Institute and Chair, Political Science and International Relations, Bay Atlantic University

About Wigwam Network

Wigwam Network is a non-profit organization, officially recognized in Italy by a decree of the Ministry of the Environment. Created in 1971, it is one of the very first ecology NGOs. From Italy it spread to 20 countries. Currently it consists of 142 Local Communities that interact with one other and support one another’s efforts promoting ecological preservation and sustainability.

In April 2021, the Wigwam Network established its presence in the US, via the creation of a Local Community in Washington DC. This is the first chapter of North America’s future network of Wigwam Local Communities.

From its early beginnings in Italy, 50 years ago, Wigwam Network followed a “bottom up” approach aimed at engaging local communities interested in the preservation and rehabilitation of their unique ecological, social and cultural heritage in order to promote sustainable development. This Wigwam Network model may provide important insights when it comes to promoting productive local engagement in the pursuit of sustainable development.