Italy - Climate


Italy’s spends a moderate amount of its ODA on tackling climate change; emphasis is on the agro-forestry sector

In 2019, Italy spent US$236 million of its bilateral allocable ODA on projects which targeted action against climate change as a principal or significant objective, making it the 16th-largest Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donor to the issue, in absolute terms.

Italy spent 22% of its allocable bilateral ODA on climate finance in 2019. This is slightly less than the average DAC average of 23%, which puts Italy in 18th place out of the 30 DAC members, in terms of spending on climate-related issues relative to total bilateral allocable ODA volumes.

Funding to this sector peaked in 2017 at US$293 million and after a dip in 2018 (US$178 million) increased again to US$236 million, despite declining bilateral ODA overall.


Climate finance: funding for projects tagged in the OECD’s Creditor Reporting System (CRS) database with the Rio markers for climate change mitigation and/or climate change adaptation. Projects can be tagged with either or both markers.

Each marker has three possible scores:

  1. Principal, for projects in which climate change mitigation or adaptation is a fundamental and explicitly stated goal;
  2. Significant, for projects in which climate change mitigation or adaptation is not a key driver but still an explicitly stated goal; or
  3. Not targeted, meaning the project does not address climate change mitigation or adaptation.

Not all projects are screened against the Rio markers; this funding falls into the ‘not screened’ category.


Italy’s three-year ‘Programming Guidelines’ 2019-2021 include ‘planet’ as one of its five core pillars and outlines the fight against climate change as one of Italy’s priorities, affirming its commitment to multilateral approaches such as the OECD-DAC environmental cooperation network (ENVIRONET), the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

At the beginning of his term, Prime Minister Draghi put climate change at the heart of his political agenda by creating a Ministry of Ecological Transition to ensure that the economic recovery following the COVID-19 crisis goes hand in hand with the transition to green energy. Environmental protection, management of natural resources, and climate change – including access to reliable and sustainable energy –constitute key priorities of Italy’s G20 presidency in 2021.

Italy is supporting the UK on their presidency of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26), which has been postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 crisis. Italy will be hosting several key preparatory events such as a Youth Event and the Pre-COP Summit, which are now planned to take place in Milan in November of 2021, shortly before the Conference.

Only a small portion of Italy’s ODA is channeled toward projects that name climate change adaptation or mitigation as a principal goal

Italy’s climate-related ODA focuses almost equally on mitigation (85%) and adaption (82%). As is apparent from the relative size of these percentages, there is also significant overlap between the two markers. Projects can target both, climate adaptation and mitigation; in this case, a project receives both markers. In 2019, 68% of Italy’s funding for actions against climate change was channeled toward projects tagged with both markers. (For more information on the markers, see box.)

In 2019, 17% of Italy’s bilateral allocable ODA was spent on projects with a significant climate change component (DAC average: 16%). Only 5% of funding targeted climate change as a principal goal (DAC average: 7%). A large proportion (78%) of Italy’s bilateral allocable ODA did not target climate change or was not screened against the Rio markers in 2019, in line with the DAC average of 77%.

Projects in the energy sector as well as in the agriculture sector (including forestry, fishing, rural development) received the largest share of Italy’s climate financing in 2019 (22% and 21%, respectively). Environmental protection received 11%, followed by humanitarian assistance (6%).

Government documents place a strong emphasis on climate resilience in the agriculture sector. Since 2014 Italy has partnered with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to build and promote the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture (GACSA). With Italian backing (US$2 million between 2017 and 2019), the FAO has also implemented a project in nine small island states in the Caribbean and the Pacific Region, to integrate their priorities in agriculture with the commitments they made under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Italy supports the Green Climate Fund and has recently shown leadership in strengthening multilateral efforts by opening the Africa Centre for Climate and Sustainable Development

Italy also contributes to climate financing through multilaterals, though not all these funds are counted as ODA. This includes contributions to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to which Italy will contribute a total of €350 million (US$392 million) between 2020 and 2027.

As part of the Paris Agreement, Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have agreed to establish a Capacity-building Initiative for Transparency (CBIT). This initiative aims to strengthen the transparency of government institutions towards the Paris agreement. The activities are financed by the CBIT trust fund hosted by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Italy supported the initiative with a voluntary contribution of US$4 million in 2016.

In January of 2019, the Italian government opened the Africa Centre for Climate and Sustainable Development (ACSD). The Center was conceived during Italy’s G7 Presidency in 2017, at the Environment Ministers meeting in Bologna, created in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and FAO. It is dedicated to the promotion of sustainable development, with a special interest in initiatives linked to climate, climate-smart agriculture, access to water, clean energy generation, gender equality.

Italy is also a strong supporter of the Global Bioenergy Partnership (GBEP) which supports support wider, cost-effective use of biomass and biofuels. Italy has chaired the partnership in 2019 and has contributed €4.7 million or US$5.5 million between 2006 and 2020.

Within the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, the Environment Office leads on climate

Within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation (MAECI), the Directorate General for Development Cooperation (DGCS) defines Italy’s priorities around development. The Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land, and Sea sets priorities around climate change.

Within the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS), the ‘Environment’ office, currently headed by Valeria Clara Rizzo, oversees climate programs most concerned with topics of climate change.


Unless otherwise indicated, all data in this section is based on commitment. For more information, see our Donor Tracker Codebook.