Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development

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disasters from climatic events

Environment: Extreme climate events, ENEA identifies most at-risk regions in Italy

An ENEA study published in the journal Safety in Extreme Environment has allowed to identify the regions in our country most at risk of mortality due to extreme climatic events, which from 2003 to 2020 caused a total of 378 deaths, of which 321 due to landslides and avalanches, 28 to storms and 29 to floods. The regions with the highest number of deaths and municipalities involved were Trentino-Alto Adige (73 deaths and 44 municipalities), Lombardy (55 deaths and 44 municipalities), Sicily (35 deaths and 10 municipalities), Piedmont (34 deaths and 28 municipalities), Veneto (29 deaths and 23 municipalities) and Abruzzo (24 deaths and 12 municipalities), with a high number of municipalities at risk also in Emilia-Romagna (12), Calabria (10) and Liguria (10). Among the high-risk regions there is also Val d'Aosta with 8 deaths, a high number if we consider its total inhabitants.

 “Mortality is the only health indicator immediately available for all Italian municipalities and the ENEA Epidemiological Data Bank[1] allows studies to be conducted on the entire national territory using mortality by cause as an indicator of impact on resident populations”, explained Raffaella Uccelli, researcher at the ENEA Health and Environment Laboratory and co-author of the study with Claudia Dalmastri.

The study also shows that approximately 50% of the 247 Italian municipalities with at least one death are made up of mountainous or sparsely populated centres, where the risk of mortality associated with extreme meteorological-hydrogeological events could be connected to their intrinsic fragility and the difficulties of interventions of assistance.

 “The number of victims by gender was 297 men and 81 women. The disparity between the shares of males and females could be partly linked to different lifestyles, activities carried out, home-work journeys and time spent outdoors", pointed out Claudia Dalmastri.

In our country, over 90% of municipalities and over 8 million inhabitants are at risk due to extreme climate events, particularly landslides (1.3 million inhabitants) and floods (6.9 million inhabitants). From January to May 2023, 122 extreme weather events occurred compared to the 52 recorded in the same period of 2022 (+135%)[2] and the most affected regions were Emilia-Romagna, Sicily, Piedmont, Lazio, Lombardy, Tuscany. All these areas, except Lazio, were identified as at risk also by the ENEA study.

 “As the climate changes, the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events are increasing, adversely impacting territories and populations, in particular on the over 65s, whose percentage in Italy has increased by 24% in 20 years. Knowing the areas at highest risk also for associated mortality becomes crucial for defining priority intervention actions, allocating economic resources, establishing alert measures and undertaking prevention and mitigation actions to protect the territory and its inhabitants", concluded Raffaella Uccelli.


[1]  Our database contains mortality data relating to the Italian territory, codified and recorded by ISTAT, the three International Classifications of Diseases (ICD VIII, IX and X) and the ISTAT censuses of resident populations. It allows you to quickly calculate total death or cause-specific death rates across the entire national territory and compute various epidemiological indices at municipal level up to 2020.

[2]  Legambiente 2023 data.