CLIMATE CHANGE COMMUNICATION AND EDUCATION
2. Climate change education and training in the country
3. Climate change communication in the country
i) Climate change context
Around 40% of Italy’s 301,340 km2 landmass is mountainous, making the country highly vulnerable to climate change impacts, due to its effects on water resources and biodiversity. Floods, storms and landslides are among the biggest climate risks Italy faces. The 7th National Communication (2017) lists a number of sectors most affected by climate change including forestry, agriculture, aquaculture, fishery, coastal zones, tourism, health, urban settlements, and critical infrastructures (cultural heritage, infrastructure and transport, industrial hazards). According to the Global Carbon Atlas, Italy is a high emitting country with 5.6 tCO2 emitted per person in 2019. The largest polluting industries are the energy sector, industrial processes and production, agriculture, and waste, according to the 7th National Communication.
Italy is an Annex 1 (industrialized) country, in the UNFCCC classification. Italy ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2002 and the Paris Agreement in 2016. The country accepted the Doha Amendment in 2016,
In December 2019, after a large public petition, The Italian government declared a climate emergency which the Senate approved in June 2020. The climate emergency declaration commits the Italian government to strengthen their decarbonization initiatives, including energy efficiency, energy security, research, and innovation measures. A number of schools, higher education institutions, municipalities, and other entities have subsequently also declared climate emergencies and committed to reduce their carbon footprint. Based on this, in 2019, in order to implement the Law No 92 of 20 August 2019 passed by the Parliament, the Italian Education Minister Lorenzo Fioramonti announced the integration of climate change and sustainability at the core of Italy’s school curriculum, as part of the Civic Education discipline. Starting from the school year 2020/2021, environmental themes have been introduced as part of the compulsory Civic Education discipline in the curriculum of primary, secondary education and adult education (with and introduction in Early Childhood Education and Care), in line with the Guidelines on Civic Education Discipline.
Italy's climate emergency declaration was accompanied by an executive Decree-law 14 October 2019, n. 111, in support of the European Union (EU) Green Deal proposal to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. Thus, Italy has not only declared the emergency but has also approved concrete measures for action, for example, by making commitments to improve air quality.
ii) Relevant government agencies
Italy has a decentralized governance system, and a lot of responsibility lies with regional governments and municipalities. On a national level, the Ministry of Ecological Transition is the main ministry responsible for coordinating climate change action. The Ministry oversees Italy’s commitments to the Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement. Italy’s Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea is the Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) focal point.
Italy’s National System for Environmental Protection was established in 2016 by the Law of 28 June 2016, n. 132. It is part of the Ministry of Ecological Transition. It acts as a monitoring and research institute for environmental protection and carries out ‘inspection activities.’
The Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research is a public research body that supports the Ministry of Ecological Transition and is the main research institute for environmental topics in Italy.
Education and communication
The Ministry for Education and the Ministry for University and Research are responsible for formal education in Italy. The Ministry for Education oversees pre-primary, primary, secondary, as well as Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and adult education while the Ministry for University and Research is responsible for higher education. In 2009, the Ministry of Education, University and Research and the Ministry of Ecological Transition entered into a formal agreement to strengthen the role of environmental themes in education, as described in the 7th National Communication.
The Ministry for Education and the Ministry for University and Research are supported by multiple agencies that assist with developing and evaluating policies. These include the National Institute for the Evaluation of the Education and Training System, the National Evaluation Agency of the University and Research System, and the National Institute of Documentation, Innovation and Educational Research. Together, these institutions monitor and compile educational data, including information relating to climate change education. In addition, the Ministry for Education, through the Directorate General for Statistics which is part of the national statistic system, manages the Single Portal on School Data, which allows a Self-Evaluation exercise by Schools and a general evaluation of the National system of Education, also concerning learning outcomes.
The National Program for Environmental Education, Information and Training was established by the Ministry of Ecological Transition in 2015. It aims to distribute information, training, and environmental education programs throughout the country.
The Department for the Planning and Coordination of Economic Policy is a collective governmental body which unifies stakeholders from different ministries and coordinates the country’s national climate change initiatives. Additionally, the Italian National Institute of Statistics collects relevant data and information, such as data on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It also collects data on the general population, for example the Statistical Measures for Years 2004-2020, which includes an indicator named “concern for climate change.”
According to the 7th National Communication (2017), the Italian National Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) plays an important role in education for sustainable development initiatives in the country. Additionally, Italy has created a nation-wide Network of Focal Points of Education for Sustainability to coordinate initiatives in different regions. The government also supports a large number of NGOs working on climate change communication and education. For example the National Communication lists the Kyoto Club, Alleanza per il Clima Onlus, and the Italian Climate Network.
iii) Relevant laws, policies, and plans
Italy has over 100 laws and legislative decrees that reference climate change, yet not all include education and communication. Significant new climate legislation has come into effect in recent years.
Decree-Law 14 October 2019, n. 111 reformed Italy’s climate laws and developed a basis for the country’s achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Law also established a legal basis for including climate action in Italy’s schools and other education settings.
Italy’s Integrated National Plan for Energy and Climate 2030, which aims to make Italy carbon neutral by 2050, was published in 2020 by the Ministry of Economic Development.
The National Strategy on Sustainable Development, Italy’s strategic document in support of the Sustainable Development Goals was approved by the Council of the Ministries in 2017. The document is introduced in Italy’s Voluntary National Review from 2017 and updates the former Environmental Action Strategy for Sustainable Development in Italy (2002/2010).
The two most important documents defining Italy’s climate change adaptation efforts are the National Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change (2015) and the National Adaptation Plan (2018). The National Strategy is Italy’s overarching climate change adaptation strategy whereas the National Adaptation Plan is the Strategy’s implementation plan.
The Long-Term Strategy on the Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions was published in 2021. It makes no references to education and communication.
Since Italy is part of the European Union (EU), it has not published its own Nationally Determined Contributions; however, it has committed to the EU’s Contribution, which was updated in 2020. Italy has committed to reducing emissions 33% relative to 2005 levels by 2030. In general, many of Italy’s climate change laws and plans are related to EU strategies and plans.
Education and communication
The Law 13th July n.107 'La Buona Scuola' (2015) introduced a comprehensive reform of Italy’s school education system. While it does not reference climate change directly, it does include sustainability and environmental education.
Three national decrees to date are concerned with the inclusion of climate change in education in Italy:
- Decree 7 October 2010, n. 211 is a regulation that contains national indicators for specific learning objectives related to activities and teachings included in the study plans of high school courses. It is equivalent to a National Curriculum Framework for secondary education. It includes references to sustainability and climate change.
- Decree 16 November 2012, n. 254 is a regulation that contains national indicators for the curriculum of kindergarten and the first cycle of education. It is equivalent to a National Curriculum Framework for pre-primary and primary education. This decree references climate change, but only occasionally.
- Decree 24 May 2018, n. 92 is a regulation that governs the exit profiles for professional education study paths. It is equivalent to a National Curriculum Framework for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Programs. Climate change is mentioned frequently in this document.
The above decrees are complemented by the overall Pathways Guidelines for Transversal Skills and Guidance (2018), which acts as an overarching National Curriculum Framework and frequently references the Sustainable Development Goals and climate change.
Italy’s National Education Sector Plan is called the National Operation Program for the School. It is updated every six years. The 2021-2027 document is currently under development.
The Guidelines for Environmental Education and Sustainable Development, written by the previous Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea in collaboration with the former Ministry of Education, University and Research, cover a number of thematic issues (e.g., biodiversity, food, climate change, transport, water, cities) differentiated for each learning level. The Guidelines were first introduced in 2009 and updated in 2015.
The 2018 Italian Strategy for Education for Global Citizenship incorporates climate change understandings across the Italian formal education system, from pre-primary to higher education. As of 2020, climate change education as part of civics education became mandatory across Italian schools. Law 92/2019 reformed the Civics Education subject to include climate change and requires 33 hours per year of instruction on climate change. The Law is complimented by implementation Guidelines for Civics Education (Decree of the Minister of Education 23 June 2020, no. 35).
In 2021, the Ministry for Education presented Re-Generation School, a plan for the ecological and cultural transition of schools designed as part of the implementation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda .
According to the 7th National Communication (2017), in 2016 the Ministry of Ecological Transition and the former Ministry of Education, Universities and Research signed a new program of commitments called the ‘Rome Charter: from biodiversity to mobility, from digital communication to climate change.’ The Rome Charter is aimed at supporting the implementation of the renewed Italian National Strategy on Sustainable Development (2017) as well as the 2030 Agenda objectives.
iv) Terminology used for climate change communication and education
The Italian government uses a variety of terms to refer to climate change communication and education. Italy’s 7th National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) states they are “aware that education aims at recovering the relation with the environment, this progress reflected also on environmental education, education to sustainability and on climate change and adaptation” (2017, p. 308).
‘Environmental education’ and ‘education for sustainable development’ (ESD) are terms with a long tradition in Italy. Their use was reinforced by the Guidelines for Environmental Education and Sustainable Development, published in 2015 by the Ministry of Education, University and Research (today Ministry for Education and Ministry for University and Research) and the Ministry of the Environment and Land and Sea Protection (today the Ministry of Ecological Transition). The Guidelines address climate change in the section ‘adaptation to climate change: hydrogeological instability.’ The Guidelines’ introduction states the government’s intention to educate a generation of “environmental natives.”
According to the website of the Ministry of Ecological Transition, environmental education is:
Not just about the environment, but also about the economy (consumption, poverty, north and south of the world) and society (rights, peace, health, cultural diversity). It is a lifelong process, with a holistic approach, which is not limited to "formal" learning, but also extends to non-formal and informal learning. ESD affects all aspects of life and the common values of equity and respect for others, for future generations, for diversity, for the environment, for the resources of the Earth. (n.d.)
The Ministry of Ecological Transition does not include climate change in its definition of environmental education and education for sustainable development.
Since 2020, education for sustainable development has also been integrated into the Italian Civics Education curriculum. Students learn about “environmental education, knowledge and protection of heritage and the territory”. The Strategic Plan for Global Citizenship education situates education for sustainable development within global citizenship education:
World Citizenship Education is education that enables the future, which puts at the center human rights, common goods, sustainability. (2018, p.14)
Italy puts a lot of attention towards Citizenship and Civics Education, the subject where climate change education is the most included. Law 92/2019 defines civic education as:
Civic education contributes to forming citizens responsible and active and to promote full participation and aware of the civic, cultural and social life of communities, in compliance with the rules, rights and duties. (Article 1)
Awareness raising is an important aspect in Italy’s National Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change (2015) and National Adaptation Plan (2018). The documents use the term 'sensibilization’ in relation to climate change, which is equivalent to ‘raising awareness.’
v) Budget for climate change education and communication
Climate change is included in Italy’s most recent national budgets, and the Italian Government promised to increase funding allocations for sustainable or green investments in their 2020 Draft Budgetary Plan.
In 2021, Italy followed through on this promise by approving a new fund, called BTP Green, to finance the country’s ecological transition towards carbon neutrality by 2050 in alignment with the European Green Deal. In addition, the country established Sovereign Green Bonds, which are specifically for financing Italy’s responses to climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Law 92/2019 Article 6.1 states that “a share of 4 million of euros per year starting from the year 2020 is intended for training of teachers on issues relating to transversal teaching civic education,” which include climate change education.
In 2017, Italy spent around 4% of its GDP on education, yet it is not clear how much of this was allocated to climate change communication and education.
According to Italy’s 7th National Communication (2017), the climate change budget for the years 2015-2016 was US$729.5 million. Further, the National Communication states that the European Union invested US$142 million (EUR 120 million) into Italy in 2017, providing grants for school-based projects on ‘global citizenship education.’ Climate change was a central issue in many of the applications and the projects are often offered in partnership with non-governmental organizations or other local actors.
i) Climate change in pre-primary, primary and secondary education
The Italian formal education system is based on the Law 13th July n.107 ‘La Buona Scuola' (2015), Law 59/1997, and presidential decree 275/1999. The Buona Scuola’s learning objectives have a strong focus on global citizenship education and sustainability. Schools are required to write three-year educational offer plans which are guided and supported by Ministry for Education policy guidelines. The Plan stipulates that schools in Italy have a high amount of autonomy in their curriculum development. As a result, the means of inclusion of climate change education is largely dependent on individual schools. A description of the types of climate change-related keywords discussed in the curricula may be found in the MECCE Project Monitoring section of this profile.
Italy’s 2014-2020 National Operation Program for the School (Italy’s Education Sector Plan), includes a substantial amount of climate change-related content, although it was being updated at the time of this review. The Plan features climate change less in curricular content, but more as part of a whole institution approach that focuses on making the learning environment more climate-friendly and sustainable. The Plan also focuses on providing the right skills for the future and emphasizes the ‘green economy’ and ‘blue economy.’
In 2018, Italy published the Pathways Guidelines for Transversal Skills and Guidance, which are equivalent to a National Curriculum Framework. Adopted in 2019, the Guidelines indicate the skills students are expected to develop throughout their education. They reference the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and encourage students to take sustainable development into account. Neither climate change nor environmental education are explicitly included in the Guidelines.
Curriculum development for pre-primary and primary education is guided by Decree 16 November 2012, n. 254. Climate change is included in the curriculum and students are encouraged to “assume ecologically sustainable behaviors and personal choices” (p. 78). Climate change is mentioned in the Geography and Biology curricula, and is also included in the curriculum guidelines’ underlying principles, which include a mandate to:
Spread the awareness that the great problems of the current human condition (the environmental degradation, climate chaos, energy crises, the unequal distribution of resources, health and disease, the encounter and confrontation of cultures and religions, the dilemmas of bioethics, the search for a new quality of life) can be faced and solved through moving towards close collaboration not only between nations, but also between disciplines and between cultures. (2012, p.19)
In 2017, Italy added new guidelines for pre-primary and primary education as part of the ‘La Buona Scuola’ school reform (which began in 2015). The guidelines have a stronger focus on global citizenship and sustainability than the previous guidelines and connect to the SDGs in the curriculum suggestions and content development.
In 2019, Italy made headlines by making climate change education mandatory in schools, requiring students to learn about Civics Education, including climate change, for at least 33 hours per year. Following this, Education for Sustainable Development became compulsory for every Italian student in primary and secondary education as part of the subject Civics Education in implementation of Law no. 92. The Implementation Guidelines for Civics Education (Decree of the Minister of Education 23 June 2020, no. 35) state that Education for Sustainable Development is one of the curriculum’s three pillars, together with the Constitution and Digital Citizenship. Starting in September 2020, all Italian students aged 6 to 19 have actively participated in school projects promoting knowledge, skills, understandings, and values for protecting the environment and the planet. Specifically, the new guidelines (Attachments A of Decree no. 35/2020) underline that:
The UN 2030 Agenda set 17 goals… [that] do not only concern the protection of the environment and natural resources, but also the construction of living environments, cities … that are inclusive and respectful of the fundamental rights of people…. These core aspects, which in any case find provision and protection in many articles of the [Italian] Constitution, include issues relating to health, education, environmental protection, respect for animals and common goods, civil protection. (p. 2)
Attachment B, Integration to the Skills (Ministerial Decree no. 254/2012) specifies that by the end of their lower secondary education, students are expected to understand the need for “fair and sustainable development, respect of the ecosystem, as well as conscious use of environmental resources” (p. 6). Students learn to “respect others, environment and nature and know how to recognize the effects of degradation and neglect” (p. 6). Additionally, they learn about "energy sources and promote a critical and rational attitude in their use, and know-how to classify waste, developing its recycling activity” (p. 6).
Attachment C, defined by Legislative Decree no. 226/2005, specifies that by the end of their upper secondary education, students will learn how to “act consistently with the sustainability goals established at community level through the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” “work in favor of an eco-sustainable development,” and “respect and enhance the cultural heritage and common public goods” (p. 7).
Secondary education is guided by Decree 7 October 2010, n. 211. While the term “climate change” is directly included only once in relation to sustainable development, many references to our changing world can be found. For example, a learning outcome for Geography states students will be able to:
Frame the problems of today's world in space, relating the historical reasons of "long duration," the transformation processes, the morphological and climatic conditions, the distribution of resources, the economic and demographic aspects of the various reality in a multiscale key. (2010, Geography)
Climate change-related topics can be found throughout the secondary education curriculum guidelines; in particular, in the first, second, and fifth years. Environmental education and education for sustainable development are also central to the guidelines.
In addition to the above legal and new curricular guidelines, the Italian government had already published Guidelines for Environmental Education and Sustainable Development in 2015. The Guidelines adopt the whole institution approach to Education for Sustainable Development recommended by the United Nations Environmental, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and aim to make the young generation into ‘environmental natives.’ The Guidelines are divided into eight educational profiles targeted at different education levels, with number eight being “Climate change adaptation: hydrogeological instability (Upper Secondary Education).” While climate change is only an official topic in upper secondary education, it is also referenced throughout the other themes and levels.
Istruzione, No Estinzione (Education, Not Extinction) is a program which the Ministry of Education, University and Research began offering in 2019 which brings together schools and universities to protect the environment and the climate. Another project worth mentioning, the Green School Network, aims to bring sustainable development into schools. The website of the National Institute for Documentation, Innovation and Educational Research lists other climate change education-related activities.
Finally, the 7th National Communication (2017) lists over 30 initiatives that educate people about climate change, from classrooms to radio programs. For example, in the Climate Days program at the University of Bologna, university professors meet with high school students to discuss climate change. Students who participated in the Environmental Education Festival, which was organized by the Ministry of the Environment, wrote appeals to ministries around the world to advocate for better environmental education policies.
ii) Climate change in teacher training and teacher resources
Law 13th July n.107 “La Buona Scuola” (2015) defines career development paths for school employees. At the same time, teachers are able to collectively select the contents of their training. The Law, in coordination with the 2014-2020 National Operational Program for the School, puts a special focus on teacher training to ensure that teachers are aware of, and trained to respond to, new needs of the labor market and the green economy.
The Guidelines for Environmental Education and Sustainable Development (2015) specify crucial skills for teachers, using the teacher competencies mapped out in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) document, Learning for the Future – Competences in Education for Sustainable Development (2012). The Guidelines link to the global citizenship education curriculum and specify that:
The need therefore emerges to identify and implement a training system for teachers who are able to guarantee the same basic level of knowledge and skills of the teaching staff who will be called to prepare, in an interdisciplinary way, on environmental issues and sustainable development. This plan will be designed and technically followed by the MATTM [Ministry of Ecological Transition], with the support of the [Ministry of Education, University and Research], in ways that make it usable and available throughout the entire territory. (2015, p. 8)
The Strategic Plan for Citizenship Education (2018) emphasizes in-service training as a key element to ensure teachers in Italy have the required skills to teach about citizenship education, which includes climate change education.
There are a small number of other publicly available resources in Italy for teacher training on matters related to climate change. One resource is the Didactical Kit about Climate Change, produced by the ISPRA - Higher Institute for Environmental Protection and Research in 2010. Another resource mentioned in the National Communication (2017) is a webinar for teachers on climate change organized by the School Education Gateway's Teacher Academy of the European Commission. Several non-governmental organizations, civil organizations, and businesses work together with the Ministry for Education and the Ministry for University and Research and the Ministry of Ecological Transition to provide such resources.
Also, according to the 7th National Communication (2017), the Guidelines for Environmental Education and Sustainable Development (2015) has led to EUR 20 million (US$23 million) being dedicated to the development of teacher training activities on environmental education and education for sustainable development through European Union (EU) funding.
iii) Climate change in higher education
Higher education institutions and universities are strongly involved in climate action in Italy. The Conference of Italian University Rectors is the organization responsible for steering and coordinating Italian universities. The Conference of Rectors launched the Network of Universities for Sustainability in 2015. The Network aims to spread a culture of sustainability and to contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Network has a working group that deals specifically with climate change. It organizes events such as the Climate Expo and publishes reports such as the Impact of Covid-19 on Emissions from Italian Universities towards Zero Emissions. The Conference of Rectors and Network of Universities are also involved in promoting Istruzione, No Estinzione (Education, Not Extinction).
Together with the National Council for Higher Artistic and Musical Education, the Council of Rectors represents higher education institutions to the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research. The Higher Council for Public Education, part of the Ministry, manages this engagement. In addition, there is an Italian National University Council which is an advisory body to the Ministry. Climate change initiatives are spread-out through those different bodies.
In general, climate change research has high importance for Italy. For example, the National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (SNAC; 2014) highlights the need for a functioning and well-funded environmental research system in addition to the Higher Institute for Environmental Protection and Research, the current main research system for environmental protection. The Institute was established in 2008 and is part of the National System for Environmental Protection. It is steered by the Ministry of Ecological Transition and collects data and indicators on climate change for the Italian government. In addition, the Institute issues environmental certifications to businesses, organizations, and institutions, and educates the Italian population about climate change. It is the main research institute for environmental protection in Italy and coordinates different aspects of work, such as the distribution of newsletters.
According to the 7th National Communication (2017), Italy’s higher education institutions offer very diverse climate change education which is available via distance learning throughout the country. The National Communication states that “long distance training, Graduate Programs, Summer and Winter Schools, PhD programmes, Master’s Degrees are active in many Italian Universities such as Venice, Padua, Milan, Rome, Bologna, Turin, Genoa and Calabria” (p. 19).
The Italian National Strategy on Sustainable Development (2017) outlines an aim to give more value to Italian universities’ contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by involving them in decision-making more. It also has a strong focus on providing training and education opportunities to academics from developing countries.
iv) Climate change in training and adult learning
Italy has a large system of professional, technical, and vocational education and training institutes, as well as adult and lifelong learning programs, which are steered by the Ministry of Education,. Decree 24 May 2018, n. 92 regulates the study path of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET). Knowledge about climate and the impacts of human activities is part of the competencies outlined in the decree.
Adult education in Italy is steered by the Activity Plan for Adult Education Innovation (2012), which references conservation of the environment and sustainability. Further, the Italian Strategy for Education for Global Citizenship (2018) emphasizes adult learning and training, highlighting that “global citizenship is a learning path throughout the life span” (p. 7).
Located throughout Italy, the Provincial Centers for Adult Education (CPIA) are largely autonomous bodies that provide education and training, conduct experiments, and undertake research. They were established through a 2012 Decree of the President. Because they fall under the remit of the 2014-2020 National Operation Program for the School, they are mandated to provide education about the environment and include sustainability themes into their educational and training programs.
Another key initiative is the EuroMediterranean Center on Climate Change Foundation, created in 2006 by the Ministry of the Environment and the former MIUR. The Centre includes multiple Italian universities and research institutions working together to “inform and facilitate the dialogue between scientists, decision makers and the general public to support decisions and actions for the benefit of society and environment” (Centre website, n.d.). According to the Centre’s Strategic Plan 2019-2019, it also supports climate change communication and awareness campaigns in Italy.
Italy also has several regional and school level climate change education initiatives. For example, the national Government has established Centres for Environmental Education (CEAs) throughout the country. These Centres offer advice and guidance to all citizens and support the development of sustainability projects. Activities are geared towards the Centre’s communities and include a special focus on the territory in which they are located.
The 2015 National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (SNAC) highlights the need to provide training and support for the industries that are the most at risk of climate change and/or which are the biggest polluters. This includes the energy, water, and tourism sectors. Further, the SNAC emphasizes the importance of providing training and access to information on the most pressing environmental issues, such as desertification, hydrological issues, and health. Knowledge distribution is particularly important according to the SNAC. The National Adaptation Plan (PNACC, 2018) builds on the issues identified in the SNAC and develops means for implementation of initiatives.
Italy’s 7th National Communication (NC, 2017) focuses in particular on training courses at the university level, often related to international partnerships with developing countries. The NC lists over 40 initiatives that have been carried out since 2014, including webinars, climate change think tanks, PhD programs, and climate certifications.
i) Climate change and public awareness
According to its 2018 National Adaptation Plan (PNACC), Italy has developed a complex climate communication system. The Plan combines training, access to information, and awareness raising campaigns. Communication lies at the core of Italy’s strategies to target climate change issues in several sectors including forestry, agriculture, and tourism.
The Ministry of the Environment is the main agency responsible for providing public awareness campaigns in Italy. Civil society organizations, with the support of the Italian Government, are also highly engaged in shaping public awareness in the country. Law 92/2019 and Decree-Law 14 October 2019, n. 111 specifically highlight public awareness and communication campaigns for climate change communication, with regions and municipalities being identified as crucial participants in developing climate change campaigns.
Italy is a member of, and actively supports, the Communication for Climate Change MultiDonor Trust Fund (CCC MDTF) at the World Bank, which was established 2009. In particular, the Connect4Climate program, which raises awareness and builds global partnerships is frequently used in the country, according to Italy’s 7th National Communication (2017).
The 7th National Communication lists 25 additional initiatives organized to support public awareness of climate change in Italy. A large number of initiatives were organized by Italian cities, municipalities, regional and provincial administrations, and regional environmental agencies (ARPAs), with examples including various exhibitions at the EXPO 2015, as well as meetings and webinars.
The National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (2014) stresses the importance of awareness campaigns. The Strategy aims to develop public awareness and dissemination plans for the general public and specific sectors, such as marine ecosystems, to ensure that people know about the challenges posed by climate change. The document also suggests regional-level awareness campaigns be targeted at regional-level tourism operators, agricultural workers, and policy makers. For example, as a suggestion for the agricultural sector, the Strategy proposes that Italy “strengthen the ability to adapt through awareness and communication of available information on climate change.” (p. 121)
Awareness raising and education are key terms in the 2018 National Adaptation Plan. The Plan highlights the importance of raising awareness about climate change across the Italian population, including industries and businesses. Awareness-raising and educating about climate change are mentioned in all strategic areas of the Plan.
ii) Climate change and public access to information
The importance of access to information is recognized in a number of Italy’s documents, including its 2014 National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. One of Strategy’s key messages is “actions aimed at disseminating and improving information are indispensable and citizens' education, awareness and the ability to perceive risk climatic-environmental" (p. 29). Likewise, the Italian Strategy for Education for Global Citizenship (ECG, 2018) also recognizes access to information as a main step in the learning process, which it describes as comprising three steps: information, change of perceptions and attitudes, and mobilization.
Public access to information in Italy is decentralized and involves many different stakeholders. The Ministry for the Environment is the main organization responsible for ensuring public access to information and includes a section on climate change on its website.
The National System for Environmental Protection (SNPA) has a regular newsletter, first published 2016, that aims to inform the public about the latest Italian climate initiatives. SNPA has also had a communication working group since 2018 that is responsible for communication and information.
The Higher Institute for Environmental Protection and Research provides information and data about climate change and the environment to Italy’s inhabitants. It also organizes webinars and events to keep the public and the government informed about climate change.
The 7th National Communication (NC; 2017) lists over 10 initiatives by Italian organizations to inform the public about climate change which took place between 2014 and 2017. The NC also highlights the role of changing technology in providing Italian citizens faster and easier access to information.
Finally, the 2018 National Adaptation Plan lays out concrete steps to provide more and better ways for the public to access information about climate change. For example, the Plan suggests Italy distribute information to citizens in urban settings via websites and apps.
iii) Climate change and public participation
The 2014 National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (SNAC) highlights the importance of involving the general public in climate action initiatives. This applies to daily climate actions as well as public participation in decision-making processes.
Non-profit organizations and non-governmental organizations are at the heart of Italian public participation according to the 7th National Communication (2017). The Ministry of the Environment supports many civil society actions and often provides them with sponsorships. Further, the country reports it has created an app to enhance public participation in climate action, although this review was unable to find further information on the app. The NC also notes ‘River’s Contracts’ as being particularly important local participatory governance processes for protecting and sustainably managing river basins, lakes, and aquifers.
The National Communication lists over 10 initiatives to increase public participation, such as public consultations on policy briefs, marches in support of climate action, and a national communication campaign “I don’t take risks: are you ready?”
According to the 7th National Communication, youth organizations are strongly involved in decision making in Italy. For example, the Italian Youth Think Tank on Intergenerational Equity drafted a policy proposal for implementing intergenerational equity in relation to the Paris Agreement.
The National Adaptation Plan (2018) dedicates an entire chapter to participation in climate change action. The National Adaptation Plan proposes the establishment of a public forum to monitor and evaluate the Plan’s implementation to increase public participation. Further information on this forum was not publicly available at the time of this review.
i) Country monitoring
The National Adaptation Plan (2018) gives detailed information on indicators being used to monitor and evaluate climate change in Italy. While most of the indicators are not related to climate change communication and education, the Plan’s monitoring chapter does include some climate change communication and education indicators. For example, Italy tracks the number of different climate change-related activities available and organized by schools and communities.
The Italian National Institute of Statistics reports on a “concern for climate change” indicator data in the Statistical Measures for Years 2004-2020.
Italy participated in the 2018 Global Competence Study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)’s Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). The study found that Italian students had a slightly lower understanding of world issues, such as climate change and migration, compared to the OECD average.
According to the 7th National Communication (2017), the Ministry of Environment conducted a public consultation of the perception of the risks of climate change that showed that Italians are concerned about climate change; however, the document did not provide detailed results.
At the moment, the Ministry for Education has not developed indicators to measure the degree of implementation of the new subject of civics education. However, Law 92/2019 on civics education provides, in article 11, that the Minister of Education presents a report to the Parliament on the state of implementation of the law every two years.
ii) MECCE Project Monitoring
The Monitoring and Evaluating Climate Communication and Education (MECCE) Project examined the three National Curricula Frameworks (NCF) and the National Operations Program for the School 2014-20, (2016-2026) (NSP) for references to ‘climate change,’ ‘sustainability,’ ‘biodiversity,’ and the ‘environment.’
Italy has different National Curricula Frameworks (NCF) for different levels of education:
- Decree 7 October 2010, n. 211 (secondary education): does not reference ‘climate change,’ but references the ‘environment ‘21 times and ‘sustainability’ 11 times.
- Decree 16 November 2012, n. 254 (pre-primary and primary education): mentions ‘climate change’ 2 times. It also references ‘environmental’ themes 100 times, and ‘sustainability’ 2 times.
- Decree 24 May 2018, n. 92 (professional education): references ‘climate change’ 26 times, the ‘environment’ 144 times, and ‘sustainability’ 47 times.
Biodiversity does not appear in any of the documents. Overall, there were 353 references to these four keywords.
It is important to note that the Frameworks were not developed at the same time and that older curriculum documents generally have fewer references to themes related to climate change, sustainability, and environment.
The National Operations Program for the School 2014-20, the closest document to a National Education Sector Plan, mentions ‘climate change’ 26 times, the ‘environment’ 88 times, and ‘sustainability’ 43 times. Biodiversity is not mentioned.
This section will be updated as the MECCE Project develops.
This profile was reviewed by Roberta Ianna (Senior Advisor, Ministero della Transizione Ecologica Direzione per il Clima, l'Energia e l'Aria Divisione Affari europei ed azioni internazionali sul clima), Mariantonietta Salvucci (Cabinet of the Minister Office of the Diplomatic Advisor Italian Ministry of Education), Marco Davide Tonon (Università degli Studi di Torino), Rossella Benedetti (union leader and public school teacher) and Emma Abbate (high school teacher and university teacher trainer).