Statement of Italy at the fourth session of the United Nation Environment Assembly

Delivered by H.E. Mr. Sergio Costa, Minister of Environment of Italy.




National statement 

Plenary session 

 “Innovative solutions for the environmental challenges and the sustainable consumption and production”  


Chairperson, Excellencies, distinguished Delegates,  

Italy aligns itself with the statement made by the European Union and its Member States. 

At the beginning of my speech, I would like to express my best wishes to the new Executive Director, Mrs. Inger Andersen 

In addition, I would like to express my condolences for the tragic loss following the plane crash on last Sunday; many passengers were travelling to join this Assembly. 

We do welcome this year’s theme of UNEA as it reflects the complexity nature of current environmental challenges. It provides us with the opportunity of highlighting  how the adoption of an integrated and transformative approach may contribute to individual wellbeing, promote economic development and employment as well as help decrease the exposure to environmental degradation of most vulnerable human beings, through more inclusive, equal and peaceful societies.  

We will not be able to address the complexity of the environmental, economic and social crisis by just adopting ad hoc specific and sector-based measures or by one-off interventions, but we will have to embrace a radical change of our mind set when it comes to thinking and acting.   

In this more general context, my Government is busily working for the affirmation of a new paradigm, where the productive axis passes from the logic of linear economy to that of the circular economy, and where reuse, recycling and secondary raw materials reuse would be the keywords. A new paradigm that combines environmental protection, and sustainable development, and in which families and productive activities result to be the main actors. 


We have assigned to the Ministry of the Environment, in a normative way, the competence for the circular economy. This is to reflect the precise meaning of the change and to highlight how the environmental issue is central to the definition of a circular economic model. In these months I am going to sign the reuse of secondary raw materials decrees, (End of Waste), at a rate of over 55 million tons per year, (about 1/3 of the waste produced in Italy is currently going to landfill), to avoid their discharge in landfill and allow a serious and rigorous development of the Green Economy. 


We have recently implemented the Minimal Environmental Criteria, with specific legislation, and we shall continue on this path, taken quickly and decisively, by orienting the public procurement system towards the Green Economy system. Thus, a market has opened with values ​​exceeding 8 billion euros. 


We believe that production and consumption patterns themselves are not detrimental to environmental protection, and their reform that will imply the discard of old systems based on fossil fuels and the single use products will eventually lead to the achievement of a sustainable and fair wellbeing.  

Italy has undertaken this way with conviction. 

The National Sustainable Development Strategy, which in these recent weeks we have been defining in respect to Governance related aspects, also taking into account the inputs deriving from the European framework, offers an integrated, coherent and shared vision of development and future,  and assigns roles and responsibilities to the different involved actors. It represents the main framework of all sector based and territorial policies at national level.  

The Italian economic programming shares this vision and the regional and local authorities are committed to implement their own sustainability strategies, in line with the national strategy, in order to ensure that sustainable development goals may take root into the different administrative and territorial levels.  

We would like to promote a new and innovative vision of environmental protection, and sustain it both at national and global scale by means of concrete actions. 

This is the reason why we joined with enthusiasm, passion and readiness the initiative of establishing in Rome, in cooperation with FAO and UNDP, the Africa Centre for Climate Change and Sustainable Development. Our goal is to create synergies among the existing and on-going initiatives in the continent and provide a platform for the exchange of information and development of concrete projects. We are determined in changing the way to promote the international cooperation on climate change and sustainability for the best, by listening to the needs of  the beneficiaries, discussing together possible developments and providing them with the necessary tools to achieve the set targets. 

We established this centre in Rome as the city represents a bridge to connect an international leadership on the environment to the African continent, becoming a facilitator and mediator between Africa and Europe, as well as between Africa and Asia.  

At the same time, Italy strongly believes in the Mediterranean system and in its protection and developmentI announce you with pleasure and satisfaction that Italy will host in the city of Naples, from the 2nd to 5th of December 2019, the next Conference of the Parties, (COP21), of the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Mediterranean Coastal Region of the United Nations Environment Programme. The Conference will focus on priority issues, such as marine waste management, with particular reference to plastics, the strategic role of Marine Protected Areas, the need to strengthen the resilience of the Mediterranean Sea and coastal areas to climate change, the protection of biodiversity and the Blue Economy promotion. 

It’s precisely because Italy strongly believes in international efforts to tackle the risks associated with climate change and wants to offer its leadership to win, all together, this challenge, I have the honor and pleasure of communicating its candidacy to host, in 2020, the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. 

Thank you.