The Italian Law No. 125/2014 on international development co-operation provides in Art. 1 that one of the fundamental objectives pursued by Italy’s development co-operation is the promotion of sustainable development, in compliance with the international programmes and strategies defined by international organisations and by the European Union. This principle is reflected in the three-year Programming and Policy Planning Document (PPPD) (2019-21) and policy guidance, whereby Italian Development Co-operation action is committed to helping reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), making “Planet” one of its pillars and focussing on populations at risk of being left behind. The PPPD is currently under review and the 2021-23 edition will prioritise the alignment of post-COVID-19 development action with environmental and climate objectives.

Italy is undertaking continuous efforts to ensure finance and capacity-building support and the transfer of technologies to developing countries for climate action. As announced at COP21, Italy aimed to reach at least USD 4 billion in 2015-20 in international climate finance. This represented an overall mobilisation target for the entire period, from different sources including public and private, bilateral and multilateral. The primary objective of setting this mobilisation target was to scale up international climate finance from different sources over time. As announced at the G20 Rome Leaders’ Summit, Italy aims to increase its international climate finance commitment over the next five years to USD 1.4 billion a year.

Development co-operation and climate action in developing countries is funded by a variety of entities in Italy, the main entities being the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation (MAECI) and the Ministry of Ecological Transition (MITE). Every administration allocates its own funds in line with the PPPD. Italy considers the alignment of all finance flows, domestic and international, with a pathway to low greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and climate-resilient development as a key factor leading to the achievement of mitigation and adaptation goals.

The above-mentioned PPPD – pages 25-27 – provides for the integration of environmental and climate objectives in development co-operation initiatives.

In the framework of the PPPD and with reference to development co-operation in the environmental sector, the MITE adopted the Policy and Programming Act for International Environmental Co-operation 2020-2022.

The Italian Development Co-operation supports a sustainable development model in harmony with the ecosystem and leaving no one behind. It aims to prevent environmental degradation adding to the social and economic pressures that cause instability, conflict and forced displacement. At the multilateral level, Italy remains committed to promoting international environmental solidarity within the United Nations, the European Union and other relevant contexts, such as the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC).

A healthy ecosystem is an opportunity for income, growth and social cohesion, as well as an enabler of the enjoyment of fundamental rights. In fragile countries, populations depend more directly on the services that a healthy nature offers and on which these populations rely, in a context of interdependency. With this perspective, the Italian Co-operation priorities adaptation action, which also brings concurrent benefits to mitigation and to other socio-environmental challenges. Development action is a priority where the threshold of socio-economic collapse is lower, as this is where a cycle of instability might start and where the same destabilisation might render communities unable care for nature and climate.

The Italian Co-operation pursues environmental goals within the scope of its actions:

  • making sure that any kind of programme and action does not cause degradation of the ecosystem (“compliance”)

  • generating concurrent environmental benefits in the actions involving other development sectors (“integration”)

  • promoting programmes that have the protection or recovery of the ecosystem as the main goal (“mainstreaming”).

The above-mentioned MITE Policy and Programming Act for International Environmental Co-operation 2020-2022 promotes the strengthening of synergies among the objectives of the three Rio Conventions, the 2030 Agenda and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. It includes general and specific priorities for environmental development co-operation.

Thematic areas for the 2020-22 triennium are mitigation and adaptation to climate change, and energy efficiency and renewable energy. Priority activities will be in the field of: biodiversity, marine and terrestrial ecosystems, forests; desertification, drought and soil degradation; tangible and intangible natural cultural heritage; bio cultural diversity and balanced approaches between man and nature; risks from natural disasters and extreme climatic events; water as a common good and a universal human right; climate-altering emissions and pollution factors; marine litter and food waste; circular economy and environmental remediation.

The Operational and Technical Guidelines for Strengthening Environmental Sustainability and Adaptation and Mitigation Measures in the Italian Development Co-operation are currently under preparation by the Italian Agency for Development Co-operation (AICS).

AICS is also developing a programme that includes the development of partner countries’ environmental and climate-change profile sheets. Each country sheet will be a useful tool in framing and directing development co-operation actions in the environmental field and, at the same time, in accompanying partner countries towards the ecological transition. Moreover, the sheets will not only support the Italian Agency local offices in using the environmental sustainability matrix, but will also provide a long-term perspective on the Agency's co-operation activity, providing information on the country's environmental criticalities, expected trends, technological needs and the main environmental sustainability challenges to which the country is also committed.

Assessing the environmental impact of Italian Development Co-operation initiatives is one of the strategic priorities of the evaluation process carried out by the MAECI according to Law No. 125/2014. External evaluations are conducted in line with a triennial Programme of Evaluations (the 2022-24 Programme is currently being finalised) taking into account the SDGs of the 2030 Agenda, the objectives of the triennial strategic document of the Italian Development Co-operation and OECD–DAC evaluation criteria. Attention is paid to including in each triennial Programme of Evaluations a number of initiatives that have their main focus on environment; at the same time, environmental consideration is a crosscutting point of reference while evaluating the impact of initiatives.

The recommendations and lessons learned from each evaluation feed a Management Response process carried out by the MAECI and the AICS together. The AICS is in charge of implementing, managing and monitoring the development co-operation initiatives.

The Operational Guidelines also include a checklist (matrix) that aid workers can use to assess the systematic integration of the environment and climate change throughout the different project phases (ex ante, in itinere and ex post), in order to adjust the process if needed, and ensure a constant contribution to sustainable development.

Through the Policy and Programming Act for International Environmental Co-operation 2020-2022, the MITE adopted as top priority the establishment of a monitoring, control and evaluation mechanism, to increase efficiency, transparency and accountability of activities and allocation of funds, including the evaluation of the environmental impact of development co-operation activities.

Italy contributes to climate action and to the implementation of developing countries’ national transition strategies through a variety of channels and programmes (bilateral, multilateral and through specific funds and multilateral development banks [MDBs]; see the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change [UNFCCC] Fourth Biennial Report: Italy [BR4] and the EU 9.5 submission to the UNFCCC).

As per multilateral channels, most of the multilateral climate funds extend resources to support projects elaborated by the recipient countries themselves, often with the support of national accredited agencies and/or UN Agencies supporting countries’ requests. This mechanism aims to maximise ownership of projects and implementation by the recipient countries.

All projects and programmes financed in the context of bilateral co-operation reflect partners’ priorities and objectives, including Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and other relevant climate change and national environmental strategies. Bilateral co-operation is based on peer exchange with partner countries and adheres to the principles of effective development co-operation.

  • In order to support Viet Nam in the implementation of its own National Development Action Plan, the Italian Development Co-operation delivered a soft loan of EUR 15 million for the construction of an irrigation system in the Bac Bihn hilly area and of a drinking water treatment and distribution system in the North district. Both projects are in line with Viet Nam’s National Biodiversity Strategy with a vision to 2030.

  • As per multilateral channels, Italy contributes to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), as a key multilateral vehicle to contribute to the ultimate objectives of the Paris Agreement (Article 2) and the UNFCCC. During the First GCF Replenishment Pledging Conference in October 2019, Italy announced a contribution of EUR 300 million to GCF’s 2020-23 replenishment (GCF-1), reaching total support provided through the GCF of EUR 550 million (initial resource mobilisation: EUR 250 million). The total pledged amount has already been confirmed by means of contribution agreements. Furthermore, through its bilateral co-operation, the MITE is supporting developing countries partners in accessing GCF support and developing projects through the existing accredited entities. Contributions also serve to support the so-called “readiness programmes” that aim to improve the absorptive capacity of recipients to effectively employ resources.

  • Italy’s MEF is a member of, and financial contributor to, the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Funding is channelled in the form of grants and concessional funding. The MEF contributed to the Sixth and the Seventh Replenishment (covering the period July 2018-June 2022) with the same amount of EUR 92 million, and will participate in the GEF-8 Replenishment negotiations. Italy disbursed EUR 36.9 million to the GEF in 2020.

  • Moreover, Italy is taking part in the replenishments of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD-12) and the Asian Development Fund (ADF-13), and of the International Development Association (IDA-20) and the African Development Fund (AfDF-16).

  • Since 2015, Italy has contributed to the Adaptation Fund (AF) through MITE. In 2019, MITE disbursed EUR 7 million to the Fund, which will deploy it in the coming years, reaching in total EUR 21 million in contributions since the inception of the Fund itself. In 2020, Italy pledged a further EUR 30 million to the Fund. Italy plans to further support the AF in the coming years, including allocating resources from the proceeds of auctioning.

  • Information on the MITE’s multilateral contributions include transfers to international financial institutions (IFIs) and MDBs, as well as agreements with international organisations and partnerships and support to multilateral agreements and conventions.

As provided for in the PPPD, the Italian Development Co-operation’s mandate is to contribute to implementing the 2030 Agenda and achieve the SDGs, while following the principle of leaving no one behind. In so doing, it takes into account local contexts and the needs and priorities included in the national development plans, the commitments taken at the bilateral and multilateral levels, and the comparative advantages and experience of the actors of the Italian System for Development Co-operation. Italy’s strategic vision is based on the Five Pillars of the 2030 Agenda (People, Planet, Prosperity, Partnership, Peace), and takes into account the deep interlinkages between the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the transition processes.

AICS is working in compliance with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure in support of and consistent with the transition to environmentally sustainable, low-emissions and climate-resilient development pathways in partner countries, in line with Partner Country’s NDCs and National Adaptation Plans. More widely, it is taking action by: increasing the use of innovative sustainable technologies in new infrastructures and in the renovation of existing ones; designing and implanting integrated projects encompassing sustainable infrastructures in construction and circular economy activities; strengthening environmental degradation prevention activities in Disaster Risk Reduction projects and programmes; involving stakeholders in each stage of the project/programme; providing training programmes and capacity-building activities to national and local stakeholders; training AICS staff in environmental and sustainability issues; and involving actors of the development co-operation system.  

In Lebanon, Italy offers a consistent package of soft loans, with over EUR 50 million aimed at the development of quality infrastructures for wastewater treatment and another EUR 10 million for agricultural development in coastal areas, assisted by technological desalinisation machines, which are essential for climate change adaptation and to counter the advancement of desertification. Moreover, Italy provided EUR 1.5 million in grants to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in order to reinforce the system of waste collection and recycling in the country.  

Another valuable example is the Palestinian Authority, whereby, in 2021, Italy signed an agreement with the World Bank worth EUR 8 million for the realisation of water collection and transport, connected to a desalination plant under construction in the Gaza Strip. It is a vast project managed by the World Bank and involves a large number of donors. 

  • The Italian Development Co-operation supports African partner countries in addressing their climate change adaptation needs, especially in the agricultural field, focusing on the adoption of sustainable practices for cultivation, transformation and consumption, and assuring sustainable natural resources management. Italy supports sustainable agriculture activities, as agriculture is at the centre of the transition to low-emissions and climate-resilient development. A concrete example of this approach is the Project for the Eco-Sustainable Intensification of Agriculture in the Niayes (Senegal) (PIESAN), which consists of a concessional loan of EUR 10 million, aimed at curbing natural degradation, and at promoting the adoption of innovative, eco-sustainable and efficient agricultural practices in the Niayes region. 

  • Italy recently launched the initiative, Glaciers and Students - A Scientific-based Approach to Monitor Climate and Glaciers in the Pakistan Mountain Regions to Support Hydrogeological Risk Prevention, with the UNDP in Pakistan, with a grant of EUR 1.1 million. It will not only establish a process of knowledge transfer in favour of local scientists and inhabitants, but will provide valuable tools for Pakistani authorities to elaborate their own strategies to cope with climate change in the mountain regions. 

  • Italy is also engaged in promoting the sustainable management of water and marine-coastal resources and the creation of job opportunities for local populations in the field of blue economy,  

  • An important source of funding that Italy provides as additional climate finance to developing countries is proceeds from the auctioning of GHG emissions allowances, according to the Legislative Decree No. 30/2013.  

  • Between 2017 and 2019, MITE significantly contributed through UNDP to the establishment of a Strategic Accelerator Labs Network through the Africa Centre for Climate and Sustainable Development, established in 2017. EUR 12 million have been committed, and will be disbursed between 2020 and 2022 for the acceleration of sustainable development outcomes in African and Latin American countries. A further EUR 10 million have been committed, and will be disbursed between 2020 and 2022 for the operations of a Trust Fund for the promotion of renewable energy solutions in developing countries, through UNDP. 

  • Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, the Italian Development Finance Institution (DFI), participates, with up to EUR 35 million, in the Renewable Energy Fund II, which is the second phase of a previously successful programme carried out in 2014-15 and created with the aim of financing the development of renewable energy plants in Sub-Saharan Africa. The programme is consistent with the Renewable Energy Initiative in Africa (AREI), launched at the Paris Conference on Climate Change (COP21). 

The Italian Development Co-operation on climate action, as indicated in the PPPD, is focused on fragile ecosystems, thus supporting the countries most exposed to the effects of global warming: the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and countries that have a lower capacity to counteract and have lower resilience to the effects of climate change. In the SIDS, the political priority is support to marine-protected areas, local and sustainable energy generation and disaster risk management.

As reiterated in the Policy and Programming Act for International Environmental Co-operation 2020-2022, MITE is currently committed to the implementation of activities through the strengthening of existing partnerships with the Pacific Small Islands, the Caribbean, the Maldives and the Comoros, favouring the involvement of the private sector together with local communities, and sharing experiences acquired at the national level.

Priorities expressed by the governments of SIDS focus on building resilient societies and managing risks from climate change. Thus, two macro areas have been mainly addressed throughout the long-standing co-operation between Italy and the governments of SIDS:

  • Sustainable Energy Programme: To respond to the requests of SIDS to foster access to sustainable energy, Italy supported the evaluation of energy needs; strengthening energy policies; rural electrification; biofuels development; and renewable energy sources.

  • Climate Change Adaptation Programme: Disaster risk reduction and conservation of biodiversity and marine and terrestrial ecosystems.

In particular, the electrification of the fishing centres of remote islands allowed them to achieve results in energy security and mitigation and, at the same time, to strengthen small, local fishing communities by encouraging sustainable fishing for small-scale centres, support the food security of local populations, and promote the conservation of marine and coastal habitats for ecological, economic and social resilience. More information can be found here.

In the context of the co-operation activities with the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS), developed in the framework of a partnership launched in 2007, the MITE funds climate and ocean-related training projects dedicated to young officials, in line with Article 11 of the Paris Agreement.

This ambitious training programme includes the UNFCCC capacity-building project, Capacity Award Programme to Advance Capabilities and Institutional Training in one Year (CAPACITY), which will last for five years, until 2022.

The most recent ongoing programme promoted by the MITE is taking place in Cuba, a SID in the Caribbean region, called Strengthening the Cuban Marine Meteorological System (Marine Surveillance) (MITE-CITMA), in collaboration with the UNDP as implementing agency. This programme targets: acquisition of innovative tools and technologies for the detection and surveillance of oil slicks, waves, sea currents and wind fields based on synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) satellite imagery processing; Internet-based provision of high-resolution SAR imagery updated daily; and specialised technical training.  

Projects undertaken in the biennium 2017-18 include:  

  • Energy-based adaptation: A sustainable programme for widespread rural electrification (Solomon Islands); planning for an electricity network in the Solomon Islands (Solomon Islands); photovoltaic solar, off-grid systems for fish centres outer islands (Kiribati) – Phase II.  

  • Capacity building: Fellowship for capacity building on climate change and oceans (Fiji); 2018 Tonga Fellowship on the Environment and Ocean (TFEO).  

  • Water and food security: Increasing Palau's resilience to extreme drought events: taking action for long-term adaptation to the impacts of climate change (Palau); irrigation for resilient and sustainable agriculture (Vanuatu); Household Water Storage Project (Nauru), Phases II and III.  

  • Marine protected areas and ocean economy: Strengthening protected area management in the Kingdom of Tonga (Tonga); strengthening of the Phoenix Islands Protected Area and the creation of related Marine Protected Areas in Kiribati (Kiribati); Palau national marine sanctuary education and awareness (Palau).  

  • Early warning systems: Building Infrastructure Resilience (Marshall Islands). 

The MAECI also takes part in a development partnership with PSIDS, particularly by funding programmes entrusted to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). A relevant example is the project, Pacific Small Island Developing States - Energy, Ecosystems and Sustainable Livelihoods Initiative, launched in 2020 in partnership with IUCN. The initiative includes, among others, a programme of solar rehabilitation and solar home systems in Tonga, research on biofuel in Samoa, new solar photovoltaic lighting systems in Papua New Guinea and a waste-oil-management framework in the Marshall Islands. 

The Pacific Small Island Developing States - Energy, Ecosystems and Sustainable Livelihoods Initiative project also has a component on soft loans, to facilitate the access to finance, especially for investments in climate mitigation and adaptation. Furthermore, the Italian Development Co-operation is envisaging more focused collaboration with regional banks involving SIDS with the aim to support them in the process of coping with the vulnerability to extreme weather and climate events, the subsequent unsustainable economic and social costs of these events, and climate change threatening the sustainability and competitiveness of key sectors of their economies.

The involvement of regional banks is expected to expand the pool of concessional resources available to SIDS so that they can better improve the socio-economic, technological and environmental resilience of their economies.

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.

© OECD 2021

The use of this work, whether digital or print, is governed by the Terms and Conditions to be found at