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World Environment Day 2021

Global environment protection is implemented through a series of international Treaties, Conventions and Agreements and is the subject of discussion in many international forums. Economic, environmental and social sustainability is one of the main focus of Italy’s foreign policy and it is implemented through a full support to the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation participates with the Ministry of the Environment and the Protection of the Territory and the Sea (IMELS) to the definition of the Italian position in the different environment and sustainable development negotiations. It also coordinates the participation to preparatory meetings, both at European and multilateral levels, as well as on the occasion of bilateral meetings with other Countries and maintain relations with the environmental International Organizations.

Furthermore, together with the other Administrations involved, the MFA contributes to the ratification of international environmental Treaties.

Fighting climate change

Climate change is one of the major challenges of our time. International climate negotiations take place mainly within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). During the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) held in Paris in December 2015, an agreement was reached that collects, from almost the entire UN membership (just under 190 countries), public commitments to reduce the climate altering emissions (NDCs).

One of the most important goals set by the Paris Agreement is containing the global heating within 2° C compared to pre-industrial levels, with the commitment to strengthen the efforts for further lowering the threshold to 1.5 ° C. Moreover, in application of the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities”, the industrialized Countries will have an important role in financing the necessary mitigation and adaptation measures.

The EU’s pledge to the 2015 Paris Agreement, which envisaged a minimum of 40% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (compared to 1990 levels), has been further enhanced by the European Council, which on the 17th December 2020 submitted to the UNFCCC the updated version of the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) of the Union and its Member States. The new version establishes a 55% target of emissions’ reduction to be reached by 2030, and consolidates the goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2050. Additionally, climate action will be fully integrated into the policies and programmes funded in the context of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and Next Generation EU.

Italy plays a decisive role within the international community’s concerted efforts to address climate change and energy transition. Indeed, our country, together with Germany, ranked first on the 2018 International Energy Efficiency Scoreboard, the ranking developed by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) that assesses the energy efficiency of the 25 major energy-consuming countries. The National Energy Efficiency Index (measured in tons of oil required to produce one million euros of GDP) is in fact diminished by 5,1% in the period ranging from 2012 to 2018. Furthermore, Italy has delivered on the EU targets of emissions’ reduction established for 2020 three years in advance, and enhanced its commitments towards even more challenging objectives for 2030, through the National Integrated Plan for Energy and Climate’s proposal.

In the last two decades, Italy has established itself as a global leader in the production of renewable energy. In 2019, up to one-third of Italian net energy production came from solar, wind and hydroelectric power, slightly above the European average. Not only can Italy boast several primacies in the hydroelectric and geothermal energy’s sectors at the EU level, but it is also the third country in the European Union with regards to labor productivity’s rate in the field of renewable energies.

Through its partnership with the UK, our country will play a central role in the organization of the 26th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26 UNFCCC – Glasgow, 1-12 November 2021). Specifically, Italy will host the fundamental preparatory events to the COP26, namely the Pre-cop and the event “Youth4Climate: driving ambition”.

The traditional Preparatory Conference (Pre-Cop), held in a restricted format and at ministerial level, will take place in Milan from the 30th September to the 2nd October. The “Youth4Climate: driving ambition” event will also be held in Milan from 28-30th September. At the conclusion of the Youth event, for the first time young people will present formal recommendations for the ministerial delegations participating at the Pre-Cop, thus shaping an integral part of the negotiation process for COP26. Additionally, in light of the emphasis that Italy places on the necessity to actively involve the youth in the negotiations concerning the green transition, the Ministry for the Ecological Transition (MITE), in conjunction with the Office of the UN Special Envoy for the Youth and the World Bank’s programme Connect4Climate, has launched a webinar series titled “Youth4Climate Live Series: Driving Momentum Towards Pre-COP and COP26”. Its aim is to enhance and strengthen young generations’ awareness of their own role within the fight against climate change.

In view of the Conference, the Italian and British diplomatic networks are engaged in joint initiatives intended to raise awareness and secure support to the priorities of the CoP, in particular with regards to a series of key countries.

In parallel, our diplomatic network is also engaged in European Union’s climate diplomacy activities, which, as usual, carries out a certain number of demarches to local authorities, with the objective of showcasing European ambition and encouraging a more effective action to tackle climate change.

Moreover, Italy will host place on 7-8th October in Rome, the outreach event “Meetings with Africa”, focused on environment and climate-related topics. Such initiative in part of a broader process initiated with the two previous Italy-Africa Ministerial Conferences held in 2016 and 2018 respectively, and will entail the active involvement of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of 54 African countries, high-level representatives of the African Union (AU), representatives of development banks, UN and UE agencies, guests from the academic world, business and civil society. The event aspires to enhance the dialogue between the principal national and international actors by means of interactive panels. It attaches particular significance to the topic of sustainability, both in terms of challenges (environmental transformations and security, development and migrations) and opportunities (biodiversity protection, disaster prevention, battle against desertification and climate change adaptation).

The postponement of CoP to 2021 due to the pandemics will ultimately enable us to maximize the coherence between the COP26 preparatory works and the priorities of G20 (“People, Planet, Prosperity”). Italy will make the most of such synergies, by integrating the broad convergencies of G20 into the COP26 demands and its own ambitions, with a view to accelerating the global economy’s transition and the international goals in the climate sphere.