Italy country profile - SDGs and the environment

Briefing Published 02 Dec 2020 Last modified 02 Dec 2020
Organised into five core areas (people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership), Italy has identified priorities in each to deliver the SDGs.

For ‘planet’, the country has prioritized SDGs 2, 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15, with three themes and 17 national strategic goals (UN DESA, 2017). The strategic goals include halting the loss of biodiversity (SDGs 2, 6, 12, 14 and 15) by safeguarding the conservation status of species and habitats in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems; halting the spread of invasive alien species; increasing terrestrial and maritime protected areas and ensuring their effective management; protecting and restoring genetic resources and natural ecosystems linked to farming, forestry and aquaculture; and mainstreaming natural capital accounting in planning, programming and national accounting (Ministry for the Environment Land and Sea - IMELS, 2017).

Italy’s actions towards SDGs with an environmental dimension prioritize SDGs 2, 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15.

Italy’s strategic goal to ensure the sustainable management of natural resources (SDG 6, 11, 12, 13 and 15) includes providing biologically diverse and dynamic seas and preventing impacts on maritime and coastal environments; halting soil consumption and combatting desertification; minimizing pollutant loads in soils, water bodies and aquifers; considering the good ecological status of natural systems; implementing integrated water-resource management at all levels; maximizing water efficiency and adjusting withdrawals to water scarcity, minimizing emissions and reducing concentrations of air pollutants; and ensuring sustainable forest management and combatting forest abandonment and degradation (IMELS, 2017).


To create resilient communities and territories, protect landscapes and cultural heritage (SDGs 2, 6, 9, 11, 13 and 15), the country aims to prevent anthropogenic and environmental risk and strengthen urban and territorial resilience; to guarantee high environmental performances of buildings, infrastructures and open spaces; to boost urban regeneration; ensure sustainable urban accessibility and mobility; to ensure ecosystem restoration and defragmentation; strengthen ecological urban-rural connections, as well as developing their potential; and the sustainable management of territories, landscapes and cultural heritage (IMELS).


Italy started to align its development policies to the 2030 Agenda by preparing a harmonious ‘National Sustainable Development Strategy 2017-2030’ (NSDS). The NSDS was approved by the Council of Ministers in October 2017 and adopted by the Interministerial Committee for Economic Programming (CIPE) in late December of the same year (IMELS, 2017a) (CIPE, 2017). Preparation of a specific action plan is ongoing.


The International Development Cooperation (Agenzia Italiana per la Cooperazione allo Sviluppo, AICS) adopted the content and structure of the 2030 Agenda as an activity framework, as confirmed in the ‘Three-Year Programming and Policy Planning Document 2017-2019’ (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, 2018).


Italy has put civil society engagement and consultation with public/private institutions at the core of its NSDS process, with more than 200 NGOs involved in reflecting the vision of the 2030 Agenda in the NSDS (IMELS, 2017). The IMELS established a Sustainable Development Forum which involves civil society, local authorities and experts on the various themes related to progress towards the NSDS (IMELS, 2017b). The Forum’s activities started in December 2019. In addition, the Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development (Alleanza Italiana per lo Sviluppo Sostenibile, ASviS), established in 2016, brings together a large number of civil society institutions and networks, universities and research institutions to raise awareness and mobilize Italian society in order to implement the Agenda 2030 and to achieve the SDGs; it regularly reports on them (IMELS, 2017).

Italy submitted a VNR to the UN in 2017.

In May 2019, the Italian National Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA) and the Regional and Provincial Environmental Agencies Network launched the Agenda 2030 Task Force which aims to coordinate and harmonize their activities related to supporting regional and provincial strategies. In June 2019, the Italian Council of Ministers Presidency established a coordination body — Cabina di regia ‘Benessere Italia’ — to strengthen and coordinate policies and initiatives for fair and sustainable wellness and implementation of the NSDS (Governo Italiano-Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri, 2019).


In 20018, the IMELS launched a working group (of relevant ministries, ISPRA and Italian National Institute of Statistics, ISTAT) to select a core set of indicators for tracking progress on NSDS. The final report was submitted to the Presidency of the Council of Ministers for their follow-up in July 2019. ISTAT is responsible for collecting the indicators proposed by the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on SDGs. In 2017, it began inter-institutional comparative work, in the framework of National Statistical System, to produce a methodologically consistent, integrated and shared mapping and assessment of the overall availability of indicators for SDGs (ISTAT, 2019).


CIPE, 2017,Resolution 108 of 22 December 2017, Interministerial Committee for Economic Programming, Italy. 

Governo Italiano-Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri, 2019, ‘Attività della Cabina di Regia "Benessere Italia"’, Governo Italiano-Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri, Rome, Italy, accessed 10 April 2020. 

IMELS, 2017a, ‘La Strategia Nazionale per lo Sviluppo Sostenibile’, Ministry for the Environment Land and Sea, Rome, Italy, accessed 28 December 2017. 

IMELS, 2017b, ‘Il Forum Nazionale per lo Sviluppo Sostenibile’, Ministry for the Environment Land and Sea, Rome, Italy, accessed 10 November 2017. 

IMELS, 2017c, ‘Il Monitoraggio Della SNSVS’, Ministry for the Environment Land and Sea, Rome, Italy, accessed 13 November 2017.


The country assessments are the sole responsibility of the EEA member and cooperating countries supported by the EEA through guidance, translation and editing.


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