No one left behind: the appeal from Naples


Ready, set, go! The first Festival of Sustainable Development has begun in Naples with a high profile institutional meeting dedicated to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10 of the UN 2030 Agenda: to reduce inequalities within and between nations.

“No one left behind” is the slogan chosen for the conference. The words “No one left behind” was repeated a number of times from the stage in Palazzo Reale, quoting the words of renowned educator Don Milani, 50 years after his famous book Lettera a una professoressa. “No one left behind” was repeated by 60 students in a flash mob in Piazza Plebiscito in front of the building hosting the event.

Four Ministers (Dario Franceschini, Maurizio Martina, Giuliano Poletti and Claudio De Vincenti), Secretary General of CGIL (the National Trade Union) Susanna Camusso, Mayor of Naples Luigi de Magistris, numerous experts and, above all, the protagonists of some stories from the area, including Enel Cuore’s Fare Scuola, all together for one day with the aim of getting to the heart of the issue of inequality in its many forms: education, poverty, health, malnutrition, gender discrimination and justice.

“The aim of the fight against inequality requires a broad vision,” explained Enrico Giovannini, spokesperson for Asvis, the Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development that involves 160 of the most important institutions, civil society and economic networks. “For example, it is necessary to consider the family of origin, which continues to have an excessive impact on the outcome of young people’s education and employment prospects: the children of parents with more qualifications have a far lower likelihood of leaving school early or finding themselves in the condition of not working and not studying.”

Concerning schooling there is a disparity between North and South (but also between the cities and the periphery) when it comes to school dropout rates, lack of services and facilities (nurseries, canteens, libraries, sports fields).

Problems that the project Fare Scuola created by Enel Cuore, in collaboration with Reggio Children – Centro Loris Malaguzzi,  aims to solve. “Ours is a national project that involves schools all across the country, from Sicily to Verbania,” explained Novella Pellegrini, secretary general  of Enel Cuore, providing some statistics relating to the project: 60 interventions planned over 3 years, 35 of which have already been achieved, 6350 children affected.


There are many exemplary stories that the Naples event has brought to light and shared. For example, the story of the young people of the La Paranza social cooperative that works for a “pathway of self-development” in the Sanità neighbourhood, one of the toughest areas in Naples, or the Goel cooperative in Gioia Tauro that combats organized crime and produces organic cosmetics from unsold agricultural produce: citrus fruits and olive oil that is turned into creams, soaps and toothpastes. Furthermore, the Comunità di Messina Foundation, an example of  a local community from the south that has organized itself in order to activate new development models, or, which originated as a book and has become an observatory for sustainable lifestyles.

“This year in its Document of Economics and Finance (DEF) the government introduced some indicators inspired by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals but there is still much more to be done”, explained Minister of Cultural Heritage, Dario Franceschini, during his speech.

Yes, the balance so far is a positive one. Regarding the 17 SDGs, Italy is placed in the “red zone”, i.e. in critical condition concerning seven of the goals (education, employment, inequality, responsible consumption, the fight against climate change, peace and justice) and in the “yellow zone” for the remaining 10, while in no case is the country in the “green zone”, meaning that it is in compliance with the objectives. Reminding those at the event of this fact on stage and in the square was a flash mob made up of students involved in the projects UndeRadio and Sottosopra, the youth movement for Save the Children.

The Festival, which kicked off on 22 May in a number of Italian cities (from Venice to Taranto), is occurring at this precise moment not by chance: in Italy in these days the G7 summit is taking place and in July it will present the UN with the National Strategy for sustainable development, where it will explain how and in which timeframe it intends to meet the 2030 goals. There is till much to do:  are we ready?