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EACEA National Policies Platform


9. Youth and the World

9.1 General context

Last update: 2 July 2024

Main concepts

Italy is involved in several initiatives concerning global processes. Although there is no specific definition of a "global issue", the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (Ministero degli Affari Esteri e della Cooperazione Internazionale – MAECI) has a Directorate General specifically dedicated to the management of global issues. Its responsibilities include, among others, matters of global governance, environment and sustainable development.

National Strategy for Sustainable Development (SNSvS) – it is a coordination instrument, approved in 2017 by the Interministerial Committee for economic planning and further updated in 2022, which sets out the actions for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The 2022 SNSvS confirmed the 2017 structure, maintaining the division in 6 areas, each containing Strategic Choices and National Strategic Objectives: People, Planet, Peace, Prosperity, Partnership and Sustainability vectors. The SNSvS is based on the dialogue among central, regional, local public authorities and civil society, with the fundamental participation of young people. 

The Universal Civic Service, and in particular the Framework Program of the Environmental Civic Service is an implementation tool of the National Strategy for Sustainable Development related to sustainability, education, training, information and communication. Furthermore, the experimentation of the Agricultural Civic Service, inspired to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, is set to start in 2024.

Education for sustainable development (ESD) – covering environmental, economic (global North-South divide, consumption) and societal issues (rights, peace, health, cultural diversity), it is a thriving field of initiatives, such as the Sustainable Development Forum. Within the Forum’s framework, a "path" dedicated to young people was established with the aim of listening to and collecting requests from the younger generations, in view of the review of the National Strategy for Sustainable Development (SNSvS). In the education field, an agreement was signed in 2018 between the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Environment for the activation of various ESD programs. Furthermore, the Ministry of Environment signed an agreement with the Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA) to revitalize the national INFEA system (environmental information and education).

Italian strategy for global citizenship education – drafted in 2017 by a working group composed by both public and non-governmental actors and approved in June 2020 by the Interministerial Committee for Development Cooperation (CICS), it represents the Italian version of the Global citizenship education, a concept developed by UNESCO. This concept concerns the dissemination of the principles of citizenship, peace, sustainability, equity, human rights and diversity. It is the basis for the coordinated formulation of multi-year action plans, which promote practices in formal, non-formal and informal learning processes, as well as information and awareness campaigns. NGOs play a fundamental role in this area, carrying out several global education projects.

Youth interest in global issues

Despite a general decrease of young people’s interest towards traditional politics, the young Italian generations are deeply engaged in global issues. As highlighted by the survey Giovani e comunità carried out by the Observatory on educational poverty of the Fondazione Openpolisand Con i bambini – impresa sociale, a continuously growing trend sees young Italians looking at the climate issue with increasing attention, with 44% of respondents aged 16-30 identifying it among the top 3 main priorities, above the European average of 39%. Between 2017 and 2020, active participation in ecological, civil rights and peace associations has increased markedly, from 1.9% to 4.4% in the 18-19 age group, suggesting that participation in these issues is not purely formal but also practical.

According to a research conducted by IPSOS in 2022, in addition to environmental issues and climate change, young Italians born between 1997 and 2012 (Generation Z) identify as priority actions the redistribution of wealth, the entry of women into the labour market, the increase of interpersonal solidarity and a better work-life balance. Equity, inclusion and respect for diversity are the main elements sought by young people. According to 83% of Generation Z, the consolidation of a green economy and eco-sustainable industries is right or even necessary. Moreover, 60% of them is willing to bear short-term economic limitations in favour of more sustainable practices in the long term, a higher percentage than in other European countries such as Germany (47%), France (44%), Spain (46%) and England (41%).