A success from the start! The Sustainable Development Festival was a success and it will be repeated. The numbers say it all. As do the facts. This was officially declared by the spokesman Enrico Giovannini at the closing event, on 7th June, in the Chamber of the Parliamentary Groups of Italy’s Lower House of Parliament before the country’s most important authorities: the Italian President Sergio Mattarella, the Speaker of the Lower House Laura Boldrini, and the Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.
“The Festival was sheer madness,” said the spokesman of ASviS, the Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development, at the opening press conference. The association brings together 160 of the most important organisations, and civil society and economic networks, with Enel at the forefront. However, seventeen days later (just as many as the Sustainable Development Goals - SDGs - of the UN 2030 Agenda that served as a beacon for the Festival) the numbers speak for themselves: 221 events, 2300 speakers, 8 ministers, (Alfano, Calenda, De Vincenti, Fedeli, Franceschini, Galletti, Martina, and Poletti), 300 schools and universities, and hundreds of thousands of views on the web and on social media.
The festival was truly unique in its kind, with events distributed throughout Italy and conceived not only for insiders in order to spread knowledge of the 2030 Agenda and a culture of sustainability in every sector and at every level. And Enel definitely played a leading role.
It was also a grassroots experience which saw the participation of young and old people alike, both online and live, thanks to whom the spokesman of ASviS could say: “Thanks to the Festival tens of thousands of people in Italy have discovered the paradigm of sustainable development. The world of business and finance, public administration, schools and universities have made concrete commitments to implement the 2030 Agenda. Now it is up to the Government and policymakers.”
And the timing was no coincidence
The Festival came at a special moment. It coincided with the G7 in Taormina. And it came before the G7 Environment Ministers Meeting in Bologna (11-12 June). Its agenda included issues that have been hitherto neglected by Italian political parties and, above all, it showed the government a path to take in view of issuing the document on the Italian National Sustainable Development Strategy which the government must approve and submit to the UN this summer and which, as announced by Prime Minister Gentiloni, will be ready in a few weeks.
“The international scenario makes the challenge of sustainable development more difficult. The world is on the brink. This is especially true of Africa which will soon see its population reach the two-billion mark and which our future will greatly depend on. But I am proud that on climate Italy, France and Germany have committed themselves not to renegotiate the Paris Agreement”
ASviS handed over a rich dossier of proposals to the Italian Government: the inclusion in the Constitution of the principle of sustainable development, as already done in France and Switzerland; the transformation of the Interministerial Committee for Economic Planning (CIPE) into the Interministerial Committee for Sustainable Development in order to channel public investment in this direction; the involvement of Regions and Municipalities in sustainable development policies, through the Unified Conference; the establishment of a consultation body for civil society, as done in Germany, France and other European countries; and tasking of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers with the primary responsibility for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Italy.
The signed documents
But there is more. The results of the Festival also include the signing of three important documents: the Joint Declaration of Milan, signed by six of the most important trade confederations in Italy (Italian Cooperatives Alliance, the Italian Farmers Confederation, Confcommercio, Confindustria, CNA and the Federation of Banks, Insurance Companies and Finance), to foster a culture of sustainable development in all economic sectors; the proposal for a “Sustainable Urban Development Agenda” by Urban@it and ASviS which will be submitted to ANCI in the fall after a public consultation; and finally the Manifesto for Sustainable Consumerism, in which consumer and distributor associations belonging to the Consumers' Forum undertake to spread the culture of responsible consumption.
Plus, there was the birth of the university network for sustainable development (RUS) and the forthcoming accession to ASviS of many Italian Regions, as announced by the President of the Conference of Regions Stefano Bonaccini before the Lower House.
The closing event in Rome also saw the participation of the Director General of the Bank of Italy Salvatore Rossi (“there can be no development without sustainability”), the President of the National Council of ANCI Enzo Bianco (“we have written an appeal to the mayoral candidates for more sustainable cities”) and the President of the Conference of Rectors Gaetano Manfredi (“sustainability must be included in teaching”).
Prizes to schools
One of the main reasons for pride of the Festival was the lively participation of young people, starting from the flash mob organized by students in Naples during the opening event. The closing event ended with the award ceremony of a contest that involved more than 200 schools throughout Italy, organised by ASviS in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research and sponsored by Enel, on the issue of the 17 UN goals. Carlo Tamburi, Head of Country Italy at Enel, awarded the winners: the Corradini School of Rome; the Collecini-Giovanni XXIII School of Caserta; the Teresa Franchini High School of Santarcangelo di Romagna; and the High School of Rossano (Cosenza). The prize for the younger students will consist in a play and creative workshop on the sustainable development goals to be held at their school, for the primary school children a visit to an Enel Green Power plant in their home region and for the older students a visit to Ventotene, the island where we are experimenting innovative electricity generation systems that are both environmentally and economically sustainable. A model of the world as it should and could be.