Italy

Since 2014, a reform law has put international development co-operation at the centre of Italian foreign policy, improving transparency and accountability. The law called for the creation of an Agency for Italian Development Cooperation (AICS) and assigned new financial tools to transform an existing financial institution (CDP) into a development finance institution. The law coincided with increases in Italy’s official development assistance (ODA) up to 2017; ODA then declined in 2018 and 2019.

The 2019 OECD-DAC peer review highlighted Italy’s strong field presence in fragile countries and an emphasis on gender and disability. The review noted that Italy could define more comprehensive country strategies for its priority countries, ensuring better predictability, and it is still working on an approach that builds on results and evidence, linking back to overall programme management. Finally, the effective delivery of Italy’s development programme requires further investments in workforce planning, some of which are now underway. Learn more about the 2019 OECD-DAC peer review of Italy.

The primary objectives of Italy’s co-operation are poverty eradication, reducing inequalities and sustainable development; human rights, including gender equality, democracy and the rule of law; and conflict prevention and peacebuilding. In August 2014, the Italian parliament approved Law 125/2014, the primary legislation that reforms the Italian development co-operation system. The 2017-19 Three-Year Programming and Policy Planning Document establishes key priorities. The law set out to broaden partnerships, operationalise Italian development policy, and create more accountability and transparency. Italy provides most of its ODA multilaterally, primarily to European Union (EU) institutions.

Italy provided less ODA in 2019 than in the previous year, with a fall of 1% in real terms from 2018. Total ODA on a grant-equivalent basis stood at USD 4.9 billion (preliminary data), representing 0.24% of Italy’s gross national income (GNI) in 2019.1 Italy ranked 18th among DAC member countries in relation to its ODA/GNI ratio in 2019. Italy is committed, at the European level, to collectively achieve a 0.7% ODA/GNI ratio by 2030. Under the cash-flow methodology used in the past, net ODA was USD 4.7 billion in 2019. Within Italy’s gross ODA portfolio in 2019 (USD 4.9 billion), 97.6% was provided in the form of grants and 2.4% in the form of non-grants.2

In 2018, more than half of Italy’s ODA was allocated to multilateral organisations, with the largest share going to the EU institutions. Italy provided a large share of its bilateral ODA to least developed countries (LDCs) and fragile contexts. Over half of its bilateral commitments have a focus on gender equality and women’s empowerment. See the methodological notes for details on the definitions and statistical methodologies applied.

Share
Embed code for this view
Copy code
Code copied!
Share
Embed code for this view
Copy code
Code copied!

In 2018, the largest proportion of Italy’s ODA (57%) was provided as core contributions to multilateral organisations, including the EU institutions. Gross bilateral ODA was 43% of total ODA, of which 21% was channelled through multilateral organisations (earmarked contributions).

Share
Embed code for this view
Copy code
Code copied!

In 2018, Italy maintained its core contributions, but its total support (core and earmarked contributions) to multilateral organisations decreased slightly. It provided USD 3.4 billion of gross ODA to the multilateral system, a fall of 4.7% in real terms from 2017. Of this, USD 3.0 billion was core multilateral ODA and the rest was earmarked for a specific country, region, theme or purpose. Project aid earmarked for a specific project or purpose (tight earmarking) accounted for 28% of Italy’s non-core contributions, while the remaining 72% was softly earmarked (to pooled funds and specific-purpose programmes and funds).

Share
Embed code for this view
Copy code
Code copied!

In 2018, Italy’s total contribution to multilateral organisations was mainly allocated to the EU institutions, the United Nations (UN) and the World Bank Group. These contributions together accounted for 84% of Italy’s total support to the multilateral system. The UN system received 13%, mainly through earmarked contributions. Out of a total gross volume of USD 459 million to the UN system, the top three UN recipients of Italy’s support (core and earmarked contributions) were: the United Nations Development Programme (USD 79 million), the United Nations Children’s Fund (USD 39 million) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (USD 38 million).

Share
Embed code for this view
Copy code
Code copied!
Share
Embed code for this view
Copy code
Code copied!

Note: See the list of UN acronyms.

See the section on “Geographic and thematic focus of ODA” for the geographical and thematic breakdown of bilateral allocations earmarked through the multilateral development system. Learn more about multilateral development finance.

In 2018, Italy reduced its bilateral spending compared to the previous year. It provided USD 2.2 billion of gross bilateral ODA (including earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations), which represented a decrease of 34.0% in real terms from 2017.

In 2018, country programmable aid was 22% of Italy’s gross bilateral ODA, compared to a DAC country average of 49%. In-donor refugee costs were USD 1.1 billion in 2018, a decrease of 41.3% in real terms over 2017, and represented 22% of Italy’s total net ODA.

Share
Embed code for this view
Copy code
Code copied!

Note: NGO: non-governmental organisation.

In 2018, Italy channelled its bilateral ODA mainly through the public sector and multilateral organisations, as earmarked funding.

Share
Embed code for this view
Copy code
Code copied!

Note: NGO: non-governmental organisation; PPP: public-private partnership.

In 2018, civil society organisations (CSOs) received USD 280 million of gross bilateral ODA. Seven per cent of gross bilateral was allocated to CSOs as core contributions and 6% was channelled through CSOs to implement projects initiated by Italy (earmarked funding). Between 2017 and 2018, core and earmarked contributions to CSOs increased as a share of bilateral ODA, from 7% to 12%. Learn more about ODA allocations to and through CSOs and civil society engagement in development co-operation.

Share
Embed code for this view
Copy code
Code copied!

In 2018, Italy’s bilateral ODA was primarily focused on Africa and Asia. USD 402 million was allocated to Africa and USD 305 million to Asia (mostly to South Central Asia and the Middle East), accounting respectively for 18% and 14% of gross bilateral ODA. USD 96 million was allocated to ODA-eligible countries in Europe. Bilateral allocations to all regions except South Central Asia decreased in 2018. Asia was the main regional recipient of Italy’s earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations. Sixty-two per cent of gross bilateral ODA was unspecified by region in 2018.

Share
Embed code for this view
Copy code
Code copied!
Bilateral ODA by recipient country

In 2018, 18% of gross bilateral ODA went to Italy’s top 10 recipients, all of which are among Italy’s 22 priority partner countries, except for Turkey, its second-largest recipient. The share of gross bilateral ODA that was not allocated by country was 64%, mainly due to expenditure for in-donor refugees.

Share
Embed code for this view
Copy code
Code copied!
Share
Embed code for this view
Copy code
Code copied!

In 2018, the LDCs received 16.7% of Italy’s gross bilateral ODA (USD 376 million). This is below the DAC country average of 23.8%. Italy allocated the highest share of gross bilateral ODA to the LDCs and the second-highest share (10.2%) to lower middle-income countries in 2018, noting that 64% was unallocated by income group.

Share
Embed code for this view
Copy code
Code copied!

Note: LDC: least developed country; LIC: low-income country; LMIC: lower middle-income country; UMIC: upper middle-income country; MADCTs: more advanced developing countries and territories.

Support to fragile contexts reached USD 504 million of gross bilateral ODA in 2018 (22.4% of gross bilateral ODA). Extremely fragile contexts received 49.2% of this amount. Learn more about support to fragile contexts on the States of Fragility platform.

Share
Embed code for this view
Copy code
Code copied!

Note: The chart represents only gross bilateral ODA that is allocated by country.

In 2018, most of Italy’s bilateral ODA was committed to refugees in the donor country. Investments in this area accounted for 48% of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 1.1 billion). ODA for social infrastructure and services totalled USD 590 million, with a focus on support to government and civil society (USD 187 million), education (USD 148 million) and health (USD 128 million). Bilateral humanitarian aid amounted to USD 241 million (10% of bilateral ODA). Earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations also focused on social infrastructure and services and humanitarian aid in 2018.

Italy committed USD 167.4 million (14.6% of bilateral allocable aid) to promote aid for trade and improve developing countries’ trade performance and integration into the world economy in 2018.

Share
Embed code for this view
Copy code
Code copied!
Share
Embed code for this view
Copy code
Code copied!

In 2018, Italy committed 57% of its bilateral allocable aid to gender equality and women’s empowerment as either a principal or significant objective (the same share as in 2017),3 compared with the DAC country average of 42%. This is equal to USD 501 million of bilateral ODA commitments in support of gender equality. Out of this, the share of bilateral allocable aid committed to gender equality and women’s empowerment as a principal objective was 6%, compared with the DAC country average of 4%. A significantly higher share of interventions in productive and social infrastructure and services addresses gender equality than those on economic infrastructure. Italy screens a majority of its activities against the gender marker (77.1% in 2018). Learn more about ODA focused on gender equality and the DAC Network on Gender Equality.

Share
Embed code for this view
Copy code
Code copied!

In 2018, Italy committed 29% of its bilateral allocable aid (USD 329 million) in support of the environment as either a principal or significant objective, down from 43% in 2017 (the DAC country average was 33%). Ten per cent focused on environmental issues as a principal objective, compared with the DAC country average of 11%. Sixteen per cent (USD 186 million) focused on climate change as either a principal or significant objective, down from 20% in 2017 (the DAC country average was 26%). Italy has a slightly greater focus on adaptation (13.4% in 2018) than on mitigation (13.0%). Learn more about climate-related development finance.

Share
Embed code for this view
Copy code
Code copied!
Share
Embed code for this view
Copy code
Code copied!

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI) is responsible for development co-operation oversight, decision making, and co-ordination and political representation internationally in the broader context of Italy’s support of sustainable development. The Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) is responsible, in co-ordination with the MAECI, for relations with multilateral development banks and funds and for debt relief operations. The Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Interior play an increasingly important role in allocating ODA to multilateral entities and in-donor refugee costs, respectively.

The Directorate General for Development Cooperation (DGCS) within the MAECI is in charge of planning and policy making, country programming, multilateral policy, humanitarian assistance, and the provision of loans. The Italian Agency for Development Co-operation (AICS) is mandated to perform technical and operational activities related to formulation, appraisal, financing, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of programmes and projects. It operates at the country level through its field offices.

Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) is Italy’s development finance institution.

Share
Embed code for this view
Copy code
Code copied!

Italy’s 2014 Law on International Development Cooperation emphasises the importance of evaluation. The Directorate General for Development Cooperation in the MAECI is responsible for impact evaluation of development co-operation activities. In 2017, the DGCS reorganised the evaluation office into two units that work closely with the AICS.

Evaluations are guided by a rolling three-year evaluation plan and new guidelines for evaluation. Italy systematically relies on external, independent evaluators that feature on a new electronic roster for service providers. Developing the evaluation function across the development co-operation programme continues to be a work-in-progress. Read more about Italy’s evaluation system.

Read Italy’s evaluation plan (in Italian).

Visit the DAC Evaluation Resource Centre website for evaluations of Italian development co-operation.

Explore the Monitoring Dashboard of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation.

Agency for International Development Cooperation (AICS): https://www.aics.gov.it

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation: https://www.esteri.it/mae/it/cooperaz_sviluppo

Cassa Depositi e Prestiti: https://www.cdp.it/sitointernet/en/cooperazione_internazionale.page

Member of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) since 1960.

The methodological notes provide further details on the definitions and statistical methodologies applied, including the grant-equivalent methodology, core and earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations, country programmable aid, channels of delivery, bilateral ODA unspecified/unallocated, bilateral allocable aid, the gender equality policy marker, and the environment markers.

← 1. DAC members adopted the grant-equivalent methodology starting from their reporting of 2018 data as a more accurate way to count the provider’s effort in development loans. See the methodological notes for further details.

← 2. The 2019 ODA statistics in this paragraph are a Secretariat’s estimate. They are expressed in current prices and, therefore, they may differ from values in the ODA volume chart, which uses constant prices. Non-grants include sovereign loans, multilateral loans, equity investment and loans to the private sector.

← 3. The use of the recommended minimum criteria for the marker by some members in recent years can result in lower levels of aid reported as being focused on gender equality.

Metadata, Legal and Rights

This document, as well as any data and map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area. Extracts from publications may be subject to additional disclaimers, which are set out in the complete version of the publication, available at the link provided.

https://doi.org/10.1787/2dcf1367-en

© OECD 2020

The use of this work, whether digital or print, is governed by the Terms and Conditions to be found at http://www.oecd.org/termsandconditions.