From Extreme Drought to Intense Flooding: Climate Change’s Impacts in Emilia-Romagna, Italy

From Extreme Drought to Intense Flooding: Climate Change’s Impacts in Emilia-Romagna, Italy
© Marcus Spriske via Unsplash


Laura Libertini

Europe and Human Rights Researcher 

Global Human Rights Defence

Since the beginning of this May, the northern Italian region of Emilia Romagna has been hit by massive rainfalls causing the overflow of numerous rivers and torrents surrounding the cities of Faenza, Forlì-Cesena, Bologna, Ravenna, and many of their neighbouring municipalities.

The catastrophe that has been hitting Emilia Romagna in the past two weeks represents the scientific and inevitable results of global warming. Rainfalls began at the beginning of May, as the ground, parched due to long-term periods of drought, could not absorb the intensive rains leading to the overflowing of riverbanks. After a week, heavy precipitation started again, causing billions of euros of damages throughout the region. The main streets, town squares, hospitals, local activities, and houses have been flooded, forcing people to seek refuge in higher floors – including roofs. In the past two weeks, 500 millilitres of rain have been fallen, a six months’ worth of rain, causing the displacement of approximately 36,000 people and the dead of 14. As a consequence, over 300 landslides automatically resulted in the submerging of entire fields and roads. People are losing a lifetime of memories, their homes, their pets. A 75-year-old man died while he was on the phone with his neighbour, who was attempting to convince the man to leave the ground floor house he lived in for his whole life and which he refused to abandon until the end.

“An increase in rainfall overall per year, for example, but a decrease in the number of rainy days and an increase in the intensity of the rain in those few days when it rains”. This is what Antonello Pasini, climate scientist at Italy’s National Research Council declared, describing the rainfalls in Emilia Romagna as a trend that has been establishing itself day by day. What is most important, is to acknowledge that these disruptive climate events will keep worsening, resulting in the displacement and death of thousands of people. A concrete and efficient action must be taken today.

Sources and Further Reading:

Carbonaro, G. (2023, May 22). Years ago Italy created a task force entrusted with preventing flooding. Why didn't it work? Euronews. Retrieved on May 24, 2023, from 

Euronews Green (2023, May 05). Italy’s deadly floods are yet another example of climate change extremes, experts say. Euronews. Retrieved on May 24, 2023, from   

Hughes, R. A. (2023, May 22). Were Italy’s floods caused by climate change? Experts analyse what happened as 36,000 left homeless. Euronews. Retrieved on May 24, 2023, from