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EACEA National Policies Platform


9. Youth and the World

9.4 Raising awareness about global issues

Last update: 28 March 2024

Formal, non-formal and informal learning

National Strategy for the Global Citizenship Education. In June 2017, the National Council for Cooperation and Development (Consiglio Nazionale per la Cooperazione allo Sviluppo – CNCS) requested the creation of a working group with the task of developing the National Strategy for the Global Citizenship Education (Strategia Nazionale per l’Educazione alla Cittadinanza Globale – ECG). In response to this mandate, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI) created a board composed of multiple subjects that could contribute, from their perspectives, to the development of the Strategy. The coordination of the board was entrusted to the Autonomous Province of Trento, with the assistance of the networks of civil society organizations (Associazione delle ONG Italiane – AOI) and Concord Italia.

After being introduced to the school system in 1958, civic education changed its name in 2011, becoming Citizenship and Constitution. The guidelines are found in the 2014-2020 National Operational Program of the Ministry of Education and Merit entitled “For the School - skills and environments for learning” (Per la Scuola – competenza e ambienti per l’apprendimento). The program promotes the development of global citizenship skills with interventions aimed at developing transversal, social and civil skills, which fall within the broader concept of fostering global citizenship, to train aware and responsible citizens in a modern, connected and interdependent society. In the context of international cooperation, Law 125/2014 states among the objectives and purposes of the Italian development cooperation the promotion of education, awareness and participation of all citizens in international solidarity, international cooperation and sustainable development (art. 1.4).

The Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development (ASviS), born in 2016, is a network of civil society organisations, universities, and companies working on the SDGs and contributing to the political and policy dialogue with the Italian Government. In particular, through its working group 4 dedicated to Goal 4 of the Agenda 2030, in which over forty NGOs, associations, unions, foundations, universities participate to organise activities, events and make resources available.

SDSN Italy is the regional network of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) in which it is included the SDNS Youth. Its main objective is to educate, raise awareness, inform about the SDGs as well as directly support young people in the creation of innovative solutions and projects meeting the SDGs. In Italy, it includes several CSOs such as AIESEC Italy, foundations, and universities.

Universities have a crucial role in the global citizenship education framework. According to the programmatic guidelines, sustainable development must be an integral part of the university curricula. Practical implementation of these requirements calls for the strengthening of mobility projects for young teachers, researchers and post-graduate students to share knowledge on capacity and institution building as well as on the development of joint training and study programs. Academia should also contribute to the training of future leaders in international cooperation as well as empowering universities in partner countries. The 2017 Strategy for the Promotion of the Italian Higher Education System abroad clearly states the contributions of higher education institutions in international cooperation, including students, academics and staff.

RUS – Network of Universities for Sustainable Development (Rete delle Università per lo Sviluppo sostenibile) is the first experience of coordination and sharing between all Italian universities involved in the issues of environmental sustainability and social responsibility.

The primary purposes of the RUS are: disseminating the culture and good practices of sustainability, both inside and outside the universities, sharing skills and experiences to increase the positive impacts of the actions implemented by individual universities.

In line with the growing trend concerning the involvement of private companies and subjects in development and cooperation activities, art. 27 of Law 125/2014 promotes a business culture that contributes to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The National Strategy for Sustainable Development adopted in 2017, lays the basis for specific guidelines and actions for sustainable education and GCE within formal, non-formal, and informal learning. In the field of formal education, the Plan for sustainability education by the Ministry of Education and Merit (former MIUR) includes 20 actions, divided into four macro-areas:

  1. Construction and environment/MIUR structures and staff; 
  2. Didactics and teacher training; 
  3. University and research; 
  4. Information and communication.

The network of universities for Suistainable Development pays particular attention to processes of sustainable education and GCE in formal environments. The categories of practices present in the universities on the theme of SDGs:

  • Development of transdisciplinary programs to foster the culture of sustainable development and influence the adoption of correct lifestyles by students
  • Training and updating on sustainable development themes for the staff (teachers, technician-staff, collaborators and experts) of all the Italian universities, possibly also for teachers of the other orders and grades of schools.

compendium of best practices adopted by 18 universities across the territory includes important initiatives and activities such as the “UNESCO lectures”, graduate and post-graduate interdisciplinary programs focused on sustainable development. Some examples include the programs:

  • Coopera(c)tion: knowledge and skills for sustainable cities in the Global South
  • Project LenSinSustain T at the Politecnico of Milan; 
  • the Active Learning Lab-Urban Innovation of the University Ca’ Foscari Venezia; 
  • the OPEN DOORS Summer School on Migration, Sea Border Control and Human Rights at the University of Napoli L’Orientale; 
  • the activation of several courses on the environment, sustainability, food sustainability, sustainable management of resources, among others. In addition, the Turin School of Development has been created with the cooperation of the University of Turin, the International Training Centre and the ILO. It offers ten different Master programs, all centred on the Agenda 2030 goals and carried out in collaboration with UN agencies.

Furthermore, there are numerous “extra-curricula” activities promoted by Italian universities on global issues and sustainable development, collected in a shared database created by the RUS.

Environment Education and Education to Sustainable Development (ESS)Environmental Education (EA) is a fundamental tool for raising awareness among citizens and communities about environmental issues and the good governance of the territory. The growing attention to the interconnection between ecological, social, and economic dynamics has led to the elaboration of the broader concept of Education for Sustainable Development (ESS).

Education for Sustainable Development (ESS) is not just about the environment, but also about the economy (consumption, poverty, north and south of the world) and society (rights, peace, health, cultural diversity). It is conceived as a process that lasts a lifetime, with a holistic approach, and which is not limited to formal learning, but also extends to non-formal and informal learning.

New Guidelines for Environmental Education. Starting from 2009, the (former) Ministry of the Environment and the Protection of the Territory and the Sea (MATTM) (now Ministry of the Environment and Energy Security),and the former MIUR (now Ministry of Education and Merit and Ministry of University and Research) formalized a Charter of Intent, in the direction of coordination between Ministries in orienting the educational activity of the two cycles of education towards building awareness and responsibility on sustainability issues. With the 2015-2016 school year, the (former)MATTM, in collaboration with the former MIUR, launched the publication of the new guidelines for environmental education developed by an inter-ministerial working group. The cooperation between the two ministries was strengthened in 2016, with the signing of a memorandum of understanding on environmental education and sustainable development in schools.

Since 2017, the former MATTM has also been promoting, in collaboration with the relevant Ministries, the National Sustainable Development Strategy with a specific area of intervention dedicated to education and, in particular, its inclusive practices. Among the objectives of the Strategy, there is that of ensuring interdisciplinary and participatory paths aimed at spreading knowledge in every educational area (from pre-school age to university education and vocational training and in informal and non-formal education) skills, attitudes and lifestyles oriented towards sustainable development, also by investing in teacher training, the integration of training programs, and respect for the principles of sustainability and social inclusion by educational and training centers. 

In cooperation with the former MATTM, several Master programs were offered by different Italian universities, with a specific focus on environmental management:

  • University of Padua: Master on Strategic Environment Management
  • University of Rome: Master on Environmental Law
  • Sustainable Energy System Management promoted by the Association of European Renewable Energy Centers and University of Pisa in Italy

In the context of the context of the 2019 Climate law, for the years 2021 and 2022, 8 million € were earnmarked for pilot projects of environmental education in the territories close to protected areas (natural parks, MAB reserves, Unesco naturalistic sites). Furthermore,  a 6 million € fund was set up for environmental education projects for schools.

Educators’ support

The ASviS is a key promoter of education to sustainable development and GCE at different levels. In particular, the protocol between the former MIUR and the ASviS was stipulated to promote and disseminate information, training and culture of sustainable development. Partnerships with educational institutions have been launched, within the framework of the National Operational Program (Pon), and educational and training projects are being promoted for all the components of the school system at all grade levels. It provides an e-learning course for teachers on “The Agenda 2030 and SDGs”, as well as different public contests to promote knowledge on sustainable development, such as “Facciamo 17 Goal. Trasformare il nostro mondo: l’Agenda 2030 per lo Sviluppo Sostenibile”, the “Youth in Action for Sustainable Goals – Edizione 2018” targeting young people under 30 and the “Lavazza and Youth for SDGs”. Among other initiatives, ASviS informs the general public about the following projects:

  • Scuola 2030: platform created by Indire, on the initiative of the Ministry of Education and in collaboration with ASviS, which offers self-training materials, content and resources to bring to the classroom education inspired by the values and vision of the 2030 Agenda.
  • Project Sudego: Structured initiative within the Erasmus plus program in which there are specific contributions and in-depth analysis of the 2030 Agenda for teachers and students of upper secondary schools.

Finally, the Youth in Action for Sustainable Development Goals calls for young people to develop projects and ideas to meet the SDGs while providing learning opportunities through an e-learning course dedicated to raising awareness and understanding of the Agenda 2030. The program also supports young people in the finalization of their projects, through training sessions and the development of job skills.

Youth targeted campaigns on global issues

Italy has a variety of campaigns targeting youth on global issues, both at an institutional (national) level, as well as at regional and local ones. CSOs and NGOs also launch many of these campaigns. The following are the recent campaigns issued by the Government and targeting youth on global issues.

  • Universal Civic Service 2024:  campaign aims at promoting awareness about the 2023 Universal Civil Service call for volunteers The campaign intends to promote participation in the Civic Service programme aimed at enhancing active citizenship and solidarity.
  • #StopHateSpeech: The campaign goal is to raise public awareness of the hate speech phenomenon, which often ends up fueling episodes of discrimination.
  • Mettiamo mano al nostro futuro: Festival dello Sviluppo Sostenibile (Let's put a hand to our future: Sustainable Development Festival) 2019: The goal of the campaign is to spread the culture of sustainability and knowledge of the 2030 Agenda to encourage discussion, share the best initiatives that commit the country's leadership to respect the commitments made at the UN. The campaign aims to stimulate citizens to get involved, promoting responsible individual and collective behaviour to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and create a better future in which everyone is called to participate.

Information providers

Official information and dissemination channels on global issues are provided by the now Ministry of Education and Merit and Ministry of University and Research, Ministry of the Environment and Energy Security and MAECI along with the different national agencies, notably the AICS and Indire.

There are also several thematic websites informing young people on global issues and sustainability, such as:

  • “FUTURA network is a frequently updated site that presents studies, articles, interviews, reports of important materials, starting from the news, to explore the possible scenarios and to decide today which future we want to choose among the many possible ones.”
  • a dedicated page on the website of the news information agency ANSA.
  • ASviS is committed to offering accurate and in-depth information daily, acting as a reference point and authoritative source of information on sustainable development issues, offering daily news and studies relating to the 17 Goals. In addition to daily news, reports and analysis, it provides information through radio interviews, videos in the targeted rubric "Alta Sostenibilità” (High Sustainability). 

Key initiatives

  • The Sustainable Development Festival is the largest Italian initiative to raise awareness and mobilise citizens, businesses, associations and institutions on the issues of economic, social and environmental sustainability, as well as to achieve a cultural and political change that allows Italy to implement the 2030 Agenda of the UN and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Building on the global Fridays for Future mobilisation, the goal of the initiative is to transform Saturday (when most people do their weekly shopping) into the day of commitment to responsible production and consumption in favour of sustainable development. The intention is, therefore, to involve consumers, businesses and civil society organisations in initiatives capable of changing production models and spending habits in favour of sustainable development. The initiative contributes to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda Goals for sustainable development, and in particular to the following Goals: 12, 13, 14.