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EACEA National Policies Platform


9. Youth and the World

9.6 Intercontinental youth work and development cooperation

Last update: 14 March 2023

Intercontinental youth work cooperation

Intercontinental youth work cooperation in Italy is managed through a variety of exchanges and mobility programs with partner countries, in terms of education, training, and working opportunities.

The Erasmus Plus program is the most comprehensive in this sense, since it provides young Italians with an extensive range of opportunities, from studying to working, including volunteering and professional training/education. 

Moreover, projects or project components aimed at promoting youth work actions are included in the governmental development cooperation activities. 

Development cooperation activities

The Italian Development Cooperation System

A relevant change in Italian foreign policy following the 2008 recession has also been Law 125/2014, the reform of international cooperation. The new law established an inter-ministerial committee for development cooperation (CICS), with it transforming the MAE into MAECI, and also creating the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS). Most importantly, the law finally recognises Italian universities as key actors for international cooperation and states that cooperation is a part of Italian foreign policy. With the same objective, all funds for action in support of development cooperation policies, previously spread among the budgets of the various ministries, are now indicated in a specific attachment to the MFAIC provisional budget prepared by the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

The Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (Agenzia Italiana per la Cooperazione allo Sviluppo – AICS) started to operate in 2016 to carry out international cooperation activities. In coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation, the Agency is responsible for the three-year Programming and Policy Planning Document, which includes specific guidelines for education and GCE to promote joint educational initiatives with partner countries such as the newly established Partnership for Knowledge (PfK). The three-year Programming and Policy Planning Document sets out strategic guidelines for Italian Development Cooperation, geographical and sector priorities, implementation mechanisms, instruments and financial allocations. Notably, it indicates the budgets for the activities of the Directorate-General for Development Cooperation, the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) as well as the allocations of the other Ministries. The commitment of the Italian Government to strengthen development cooperation is confirmed, with the gradual alignment of the annual allocations made for this purpose, to ensure that Italy fulfils its international commitments. 

The Inter-Ministerial Committee for Development Cooperation (Comitato interministeriale per la cooperazione allo sviluppo – CICS), created under art. 15 of Law 125/2014 is responsible for the coordination of development and cooperation activities across ministries. In 2017, the Committee began five thematic working groups: migration and development; private sector and development cooperation, with a focus on energy issues; professional training, secondary education and universities; international cooperation in the matters of environment and sustainable development; Sub-Saharian Africa.

The National Council for Development and Cooperation (Consiglio Nazionale per la Cooperazione allo Sviluppo), consisting of the leading public and private, profit and non-profit actors, provides advices on all matters related to development cooperation.

To favour the participation of Italian citizens in cooperation and development policies, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs calls for a National Public Conference, every three years. The first conference took place in January 2018 in Rome. 

In 2018, the Inter-ministerial Committee for Development Cooperation also approved the document containing the Italian Strategy for Education to Global Citizenship (Strategia italiana per l’Educazione alla Cittadinanza Globale/ECG).

The Italian Agency for Youth

The Italian Agency for Youth supports the Key Action (KA 1) of the Erasmus + program which promotes the mobility of young people as a tool for active participation, social inclusion and promotion of European citizenship. The main activities are: youth exchanges, European Voluntary Service and mobility of youth workers.

The Agency also promotes Key Action 205 - Strategic Partnerships, dedicated to projects aimed at innovation with new practices, models, and educational approaches. Finally, it promotes the Youthpass tool for the recognition of transversal skills also acquired in non-formal education.


Through managing the Erasmus+ program, the National Institute for Documentation, Innovation and Research (INDIRE) promotes education to sustainable development through the platform “Scuola 2030 – Portale per l’educazione allo sviluppo sostenibile”. The platform is managed in collaboration with Ministry of Education and Merit and Ministry of University and Research (former MIUR) and AsviS to contribute to Target 4.7 by making available multiple types of materials, contents and resources to schools, teachers, educators and students to promote the Agenda 2030 vision.

Furthermore, art. 9 of Law 64/2001, instituting the National Civic Service, provides that young volunteers can also serve in bodies and administrations operating abroad, in the context of initiatives taken by the European Union, as well as in structures for interventions of pacification and cooperation between peoples, established either by the EU or by international organisations operating for the same purposes in which Italy participates.

For Italian graduates under the age of 26, there is also the opportunity to carry out an internship with United Nations Volunteers. The UNV Internship Program, sponsored by the MAECI and managed by the HRIC/UNDESA office in Rome, allows around twenty new graduates to spend 12 months in a developing country each year, contributing to a project coordinated by the UNV program.