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International Cooperation

International cooperation for sustainable development is an integral and significant part of Italy’s foreign policy. It is inspired by the principles of the United Nations Charter and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. In accordance with the principle set out in Article 11 of the Constitution, its action contributes to the promotion of peace and justice and aims to promote solidarity and equal relations between peoples, based on the principles of interdependence and partnership.

Over the decades, Italian development cooperation has been structured and strengthened in terms of instruments, ambitions, as well as internal and external partnerships, and has also played an increasing role within the G7, the G20 and the broader multilateral framework. At a bilateral level, development cooperation has also contributed to strengthening relations with many partner countries in the Mediterranean, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America.

Pursuant to Law No. 125 of 11 August 2014, which regulates Italian development cooperation, the Three-Year Planning and Policy Guidance Document is the fundamental reference text for the entire Italian development cooperation system, through which the Sustainable Development Goals contained in the United Nations 2030 Agenda are defined within the three-year development cooperation strategy. This Document is the result of a consultation and sharing process carried out by the Directorate General for Development Cooperation (DGCS) of the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MAECI), with the contribution of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS), the other Administrations involved in development cooperation, Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (Deposits and Loans Fund), Regions and Local Authorities, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and other players of the development cooperation system.

The Document currently in force, valid for the three-year period 2021-2023, has identified 20 priority countries, chosen for their traditional ties, established bilateral relations, as well as foreign policy and international stability and security reasons: 11 in Africa (Egypt, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Mozambique); 4 in the Middle East (Jordan, Iraq, the Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories); 1 in Balkan Europe (Albania); 2 in Asia (Afghanistan, Myanmar); 2 in Latin America (Cuba, El Salvador).

The Italian Cooperation’s action starts from the assumption that economic growth is not enough to reduce poverty and that it must be inclusive and able to involve the three dimensions of sustainable development, i.e. the economic, social and environmental dimensions. In view of reflecting the multidimensional nature of development, the intervention sectors identified as priorities in the three-year document are the following: economic development (with a particular focus on women’s and young people’s employment); sustainable development; food security; support for public health systems; child protection and, more generally, institution building activities. Gender equality is a crosscutting sector, which aims to foster women’s empowerment and strengthen broad-based growth processes. While programming interventions, the Italian Cooperation makes reference to the so-called 5 “Ps” (People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, Partnership) of the Agenda 2030, the paradigm to which the international community has adhered with the aim of handing over to future generations a planet under the banner of sustainability.


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