Italy - Climate


Italy’s climate ODA doubled in 2020; domestic climate policy ramps up

In 2020, Italy spent US$494 million (44%) of its bilateral allocable ODA on projects which targeted action against climate change as a principal or significant objective, making it the 10th-largest Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donor to the issue, in absolute terms. Funding to this sector was the highest-ever in 2020, and more than doubled from 2019 (US$242 million, or 22%). 

Italy spent 44% of its allocable bilateral ODA on climate finance in 2020. This is significantly more than the DAC average of 23%, which puts Italy in third place out of the 30 DAC members, in terms of bilateral allocable ODA on climate-related issues relative to total bilateral allocable ODA volumes. 

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’ 2021-2023 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). An increased emphasis on environmental protection and climate change was incorporated into the document in its latest iteration.  

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–constituted key priorities of Italy’s G20 presidency in 2021.

Italy supported the UK with its presidency of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26), which took place in November 2021 and hosted a pre-summit food systems conference. At the G20, Italy pledged to triple its contribution to fighting climate change by US$1.4 billion per year for the next five years. The Italian Parliament and Senate additionally voted to incorporate protection of the environment, biodiversity, and ecosystems in the interest of future generations into ‘Article 9’ of the Italian Constitution on February 22, 2022. 

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 similarly on mitigation (81%) and adaption (95%). 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, and, in that case, would receive both markers. In 2020, 76% of Italy’s funding for action against climate change was channeled toward projects tagged with both markers. (For more information on the markers, see box.)

In 2020, 35% of Italy’s bilateral allocable ODA was spent on projects with a significant climate change component (DAC average: 14%). Only 8% of funding targeted climate change as a principal goal (DAC average: 9%). A large proportion (56%) of Italy’s bilateral allocable ODA did not target climate change or was not screened against the Rio markers in 2020, lower than the DAC average of 77%. 

Projects in agriculture (including forestry, fishing, rural development) received the largest share of Italy’s climate financing in 2020 (20%), followed by energy (16%) and infrastructure (15%). 

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).

Italy supports the Green Climate Fund and recently opened 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$399 million) between 2020 and 2027. 

In January 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, and gender equality.

Italy is also a strong supporter of the Global Bioenergy Partnership (GBEP) which supports a wider, more cost-effective use of biomass and biofuels. Italy chaired the partnership in 2019.

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

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