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Building back forward: the future of Italy’s development cooperation

Published 14 February 2023 in News

The project Building back forward: the future of Italy’s development cooperation is led by the Italian think tank Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), one of the leading think tanks in Italy.

Focus 2030 Grant

Name of the Project: « Building back forward: the future of Italy’s development cooperation.»

Timing: September 2022 – June 2023

Main objective: Promote a renewed narrative in favor of an ambitious Italian development cooperation policy and the modernization of development instruments contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


After a new political coalition came to power in September 2022, in a global context disrupted by multiple ongoing crises (Covid-19, Ukraine, climate change...), it is essential for Italian NGOs to raise awareness among newly appointed parliamentarians and ministers, as well as citizens, on issues of international solidarity and development cooperation. This is the work carried out by the think tank IAI through this project, supported by Focus 2030.


  • Measuring public perceptions and support for Italian development aid policy. Conducted an opinion survey among a representative sample of the population, in partnership with the Center for the Study of Political Change at the University of Siena.
  • Events
    • Organization of a round table on international cooperation in December 2022, attended by the Chairwoman of the Senate Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, politicians and leaders of the Italian NGO campaign to achieve the target of allocating 0.7% of GNI to official development assistance (ODA). During the roundtable, the Deputy Minister for Cooperation pledged that Italy’s official development assistance would reach the international target of 0.7% of the country’s GNI by 2030.
    • Organization of an event in December 2022 attended by representatives of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation, the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee and civil society organizations. This was an opportunity for institutional representatives to give an overview of Italy’s development cooperation policy, for political decision-makers to share their views on how to better integrate development cooperation into the country’s foreign policy and maximize limited ODA resources, and for civil society to pass on NGO requests and suggestions for making development cooperation more effective, starting with better integration of ODA budget allocations into the country’s legislative structure.
    • Organization of an event on "The role of the G7 in promoting North-South cooperation", which provided an overview of the current state of G7 work and its future direction under the Italian presidency. The event also enabled international development practitioners to share their views on how the G7 can help advance and align donors and beneficiaries on the specific challenges most affecting the global South.
        • 66% of Italians surveyed in September 2022 declare they do not know the percentage of GNI that Italy allocates to Official Development Assistance (ODA). Approximately 8% chose the correct answer.
        • 54% of respondents can correctly define the Sustainable Development Goals from a list of proposed items.
        • A relative majority of respondents (around 40%) declare that ODA levels should remain stable; and slightly less than 40% favor increasing them. Among center and left-leaning voters, a majority declares support for an increase in ODA; among right-leaning voters, those in favor of maintaining the status quo prevail.
        • ODA is viewed positively by the public, who declares that it helps the economies of recipient countries, increases their self-sufficiency, and supports the most vulnerable groups. There are doubts, however, about its effectiveness, with regard to the management of aid by partner governments.
        • For 41% of respondents, Italy’s international image would benefit from increased spending on international cooperation. In comparison, 31% estimate that the same could be said of an increase in defense spending.
        • One-third of respondents have participated in more than one act of solidarity towards developing countries in the past year and 28% acted once. Among those who have, donations, purchasing fair trade products, and petitions are the main actions taken. These individuals report higher levels of support for official development assistance.

    Documents to download