This year's statistical report is based on the themes of wealth, life choices, daily life and the trends of productive development. These important issues can all be summed up in one word: quality of the social and economic systems in Veneto.
It is just a short step from last year's recurring theme of competitiveness to this year's quality leitmotif. As the summary of the whole report clearly points out, the link between the two comes from our ability to produce goods and services that meet the test of international competition while our citizens enjoy a standard of living that is both rising and sustainable.
The European Strategy drawn up in Lisbon in 2000, monitored annually in the report, pays a great deal of attention to social cohesion and essentially focuses on factors that influence living standards, such as employment, education, lifestyles and environmental sustainability. This year the regions' development indices have been drawn up extremely scientifically in the section devoted to European comparison. A comparative reading of these indices provides a picture of a Europe which, since 2004, side by side with the process of enlargement, has been taking on a new role and struggling to reach its original objectives. This has been caused by the disparity in the territories, which has appeared in the new European dimension for the first time.
Within this context, Veneto, which is in the cluster of regions showing economic strength, is one of the cornerstones of European development and has the driving force to regenerate even those regions which today are in the process of being fully restructured.
So, we have seen the strength and quality of the economic system in Veneto. But can we say the same of the social system?
As the New York Times writes, economic well-being is not everything, though it certainly means a great deal. It is from this "great deal" that this year's study unravels, delving into our wealth and weaknesses in terms of the quality of our life, our choices, our ways of dealing with and living in this society.
Apart from a Veneto with a high level of economic development, this year we can look at ourselves in the mirror and see an image of Veneto residents who enjoy a high level of economic well-being. Veneto residents are people who dedicate most of their time to their work; are often greatly satisfied; are young people who are able to compete in the European education system; are children who are guaranteed an increasing number of services; are men and women who enjoy good health and love devoting their free time to art, nature, tourism, solidarity and social participation.
So we can boast of a Veneto of excellence and quality, characteristics which are reflected in the works of the famous Veneto architect Palladio, whose fifth centenary we are celebrating this year, well represented by the photographs in the book. This year's book provides a pleasant read and can be perceived completely objectively and with not a small amount of pride.
President of Regione Veneto
After the stages of "the Pioneers" and "Well-being", comes "the Future of Sustainability"
This is the "Third Veneto", persistent and non linear, protective of its territory in order to safeguard itself from pervading globalisation, curious about the global world so as not to limit its horizons, proud of the Pioneers of the "First Veneto", devoted to protecting the well-being of the "Second Veneto", yet seeing success only in the further innovation of the products that yesterday provided the foundation of entrepreneurial success.
The Third Veneto knows that the parameters of progress will increasingly be dependent on health, school, the environment, security and care, and that in a truly advanced society the woman is also to be found at the heart of social quality, as she bears the double burden of work and family, income and maternity, childcare and work-related stress.
These meaningful phrases, taken from the preface to the Regional Development Programme (RDP), show that the analysis of Veneto provided in this edition of the statistical report is significantly in line with our long term action plan.
The RDP, an extremely important cultural endeavour, lies at the heart of regional institutional action, and pays particular attention to the pursuit of the highest levels of efficiency of public administration. This must come about through continuous administrative simplification, the use of innovation and new technologies and, last but not least, through observing constant user-oriented planning. In particular the regional administration has set itself the target of producing an increasingly diverse range of services, the standard of which should never fall below the expectations of the community, without neglecting to contain the resources entrusted to it. All this within a context which is in itself virtuous considering that Veneto, with its consolidated public expenditure of 36.4% of GDP, compared to an Italian average of 48%, has the lowest figure in the ranking of the Italian regions.
The RDP considers statistics a central tool for representing an authoritative Administration that can be a point of reference for the local community. This idea was put into practice by setting up the Sistema Statistico Regionale (SISTAR) following regional law 8/2002. The systrem is made up of the network of the Statistics Offices of Local Authorities and other public authorities in the region. The Regional Statistical Programme is a sort of compendium of the official statistical production devised by the institutional bodies that together contribute to the functioning of the network.
This document puts public statistics at the service of the region's community, making the production and circulation of official information about Veneto a useful means for planning at different levels of government. It is also useful for all those who, for various reasons, may want to analyse the Veneto context from every angle.
To do this a technological leap has been necessary. The main issue in the innovation in communication between the Public Administration and the region involves the reduction of the digital divide, this refers both to public administration itself and to those areas of the population who are less inclined to use new technologies. Consider that in Veneto in 2006 20.6% of those aged over 14 used the Internet for dealings with the Public Administration, this is slightly higher than the Italian average.
The networked statistical system is evolving technologically to facilitate the circulation of information, providing a basic service that fosters dialogue with the regional Administration. SėGOVe (Sistema informativo di governo del Veneto - The Veneto government's information system) is the project which, making use of state of the art statistical methods and a modern technological set up, makes it possible to read, interpret and foresee questions coming from the region, through the structuring of accurate, relevant and timely information. This has become the basis for shared knowledge in the Veneto context.
SėGOVe also provides support in drawing up the annual statistical report, which was first produced four years ago and which is based on sound scientific foundations. Today the report has become the main instrument for dialogue between institutional bodies, academic and otherwise, involved in defining paths towards growth in Veneto.
A hypertext version of the volume in Italian and English is available on the website of the regional administration at www.regione.veneto.it/statistica.
Adriano Rasi Caldogno
Secretary General for Planning