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Activities such as industry, construction, agriculture, energy and waste production are expected to continue to be the major determinants of environmental pressures in the coming decades, despite the temporary effects of the global economic crisis on production and consumption patterns at the national scale. In order to prevent the predictable economic recovery from re-establishing the pre-crisis unsustainable trends of environmental pressures, it is important that the recovery is accompanied by measures to green the economy.

One of the current policy is to boost growth while reducing current pressures on the environment due to unsustainable production and consumption patterns and to promote eco-innovation by an appropriate mix of regulation, market instruments and incentives. In this regard, political priorities in the environmental field, which will remain high on the agenda of the central Government as key elements of medium and long term planning, are:

 1.                  sustainable use and preservation of water resources through the optimisation of management and a technical up-grade of water supply and sanitation systems and the prevention of illegal water extraction;

2.                  prevention and mitigation of hydro-geological risk by ensuring an integrated management system for the water-soil resource in order to protect settlements, infrastructures and industrial plants, and tackle coastal erosion and desertification problems;

3.                  land reclamation by completing the National Reclamation and Requalification Plan of 57 prioritised contaminated industrial sites by the use of innovative technologies;

4.                  reduction of the environmental impact of wastes, in particular by interventions aimed at minimising packaging; reusing, recycling and recovering industrial by-products and residues in the production cycles; enhancing separate collection of waste; promoting awareness-raising of enterprises and citizens on the need to reduce waste generation; and combating illegal traffic of waste and ‘eco-mafias’;

5.                  protection of biodiversity and ecosystems, in particular by the definition of a National Strategy for Biodiversity aiming at the achievement of three strategic objectives to be implemented in the years 2011-2020:

    1. to enhance the protection and recovery of biodiversity and ecosystem services in order to ensure their key role for life on Earth and human well-being;
    2. to promote the adaptation of species and natural and semi-natural ecosystems to climate change and to adopt appropriate mitigation measures in order to reduce the impacts of climate change on biodiversity and human well-being;
    3. to integrate biodiversity conservation into economic and sectoral policies by strengthening the recognition of benefits derived from biodiversity and ecosystem services and an awareness of the costs resulting from their loss;


6.                  clean energy and better air quality, in particular by strengthening the development and implementation of eco-incentives for energy efficiency and renewable energy , for example white and green certificates, and promoting sustainable mobility and construction;

7.                  sustainable consumption patterns, such as the promotion of green public procurement (GPP), and environmental education and information, by:

-          promoting the National Strategy for Sustainable Production and Consumption as well as the one for GPP;

-          supporting specific public information and awareness campaigns and promoting education on sustainable development in schools.

Italian Environmental Governance

 Environmental protection is shared between state and the local authorities (LAs) – and primarily among local regional authorities.

The state exerts the exclusive legislative power, as well as the guiding, coordinating and substituting power for the LAs.

The state has given the regions important functions pertaining to environmental protection such as: issuing environmental authorisations for the installation of infrastructures of regional relevance; organising the monitoring environmental media and the control of polluting activities; preparing and implementing waste management plans, air quality plans, soil and coastal defence plans; enforcing measures for the implementation of river basin plans and identifying sites for the  NATURA 2000 Network. The role of the regions is further strengthened by their concurrent legislative power in fields which are particularly relevant for environmental protection such as: valorisation of cultural and environmental heritage; healthcare; land management; civil protection; energy production, transport and distribution; transport and navigation networks; scientific and technological research.

At the central level, the administration with primary responsibility for environmental policy is the Ministry for Environment, Land and Sea (IMELS) ( ).

Its general competences are:

•        developing environmental legislation, regulations and national plans;

•        supervising implementation of environmental legislation at the regional level, replacing regions and other local authorities in their competences, if necessary;

•        guiding and coordinating regional/local administrative activities;

•        promoting environmental research;

•        reporting on the state of the Italy’s environment;

•        giving policy instructions to the technical environmental bodies and agencies;

•        issuing EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) and IPPC (Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control)  permits for large installations.

Concerning enforcement, IMELS is supported by the Corps of Carabineers for Environmental Protection (CCTA), the Coast Guard Corps (CCPGC), and the National Forestry Corps (CFS), which are branches of the Italian Army tasks with vigilance, prevention and repression of environmental violations.

With regard to technical, scientific and operational matters IMELS is supported by the Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA) ( ) – which is part of the System of Environmental Protection Agencies (EPAs) as the technical steering and coordinating body.

The System of the EPAs relies on 21 agencies including Regional Environment Protection Agencies (ARPAs) and Environmental Protection Agencies of the Autonomous Provinces of Trento and Bolzano (APPAs) located all over Italy ( ).

At the local level, according to the regional planning guidelines, the ARPAs/APPAs carry out technical and scientific activities supporting the environmental and institutional action of the LAs. They are in charge of monitoring environmental media and controlling polluting activities, as well as collecting, elaborating and evaluating environmental data.

Environmental data information management is based on the network of the Italian National Environmental Information System (SINAnet) which is managed by ISPRA and composed of regional nodes in a structure analogous to EIONET. SINAnet is an example of a decentralised monitoring system, as monitoring is carried out mainly at the regional level, and much of it is coordinated by the EPAs.

In addition to the above competences, ISPRA is responsible for the main national reporting activities, both in terms of obligations and communication to citizens about the State of the Environment.



MATTM: Giuliana Gasparrini, Silvia Giulietti

ISPRA: Alessandra Galosi, Luca Segazzi

ISTAT: Stefano Tersigni




INEA, Italian Agriculture in Figures. Roma, 2009.

ISPRA, Key Topics –Italian Environmental Data Yearbook 2008. Roma, 2009.

ISPRA, Key Topics –Italian Environmental Data Yearbook 2009. Roma, 2010.

ISTAT, Conti economici nazionali. Anni 1970-2008. Roma, 2009.

ISTAT, Datawarehouse online DwCis or

ISTAT, Italian Statistical Abstract 2008. Roma, 2009.

MINISTRY FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, LAND AND SEA, Environmental Challenges – Summary of the State of the environment in Italy 2009. Roma, 2009.



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