Sustainable development and social innovation in Italy

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030 commit the international community to identify a global and commonly agreed path based on the guiding principles of integration, universality, transformation and inclusion and especially, collaboration and sharing among the parties. A fundamental role in this process is assigned to businesses, identified as the driving force for the new dynamics of sustainable development: all businesses, regardless of size, sector and geographical location, are called to act, constructing responsible business models, based on relaunching investments, more innovation and technology and, especially, collaboration with institutions, communities and civil society. And Italy? Which “level” of sustainable development has been reached?

According to the 2017 report published by Alleanza Italiana per lo Sviluppo Sostenibile (ASviS) [The Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development ], our country shows some progress on important issues but also confirms the weaknesses which the Strategia Nazionale per lo Sviluppo Sostenibile (SNSvS) [National Strategy for Sustainable Development], approved in 2017 by the Interministerial Committee for Economic Planning (CIPE), intends to remedy by setting specific targets to be reached in upcoming years with a joint commitment on the part of the entire economic and political apparatus. This renewed commitment is even demonstrated in the most recent Economy and Finance Document which, for the first time in Europe and among the G7 countries, included in its economic planning – in addition to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – 12 Equitable and Sustainable Well-being indicators (BESs). This is an important step in reasserting the conviction that the gross domestic product is only a portion of overall well-being and that, in reality, it is not exemplary of the country’s overall living conditions.

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Wellness that goes beyond GDP: the BES index portion of the economy and finance document

Starting from 2013, ISTAT [the Italian National Statistics Institute] every year proposes a detailed analysis of a series of indicators that measure societal progress not only from the economic point of view, but also from a social and environmental perspective, with the goal of making the country more aware of its strengths and weaknesses relating to its citizens’ quality of life.

A unique case in Europe, starting in 2019 the Italian government will be the first to assess performance of its most significant BES indicators in conjunction with the budget law. In the budget law, in fact, governments are also called to observe any improvements or worsening of the indicators, putting them in relation to what has been done in the budget law.

BES indicators include:

  1. per capita average adjusted available income;
  2. inequality of available income index;
  3. absolute poverty index;
  4. healthy life expectancy from birth;
  5. excess weight;
  6. drop-out rates from the education and training system;
  7. employment non-participation rate, broken down by gender;
  8. ratio between the employment rate of women aged 25- 49 with preschool children and women without children;
  9. predatory crime rate;
  10. civil justice efficiency index;
  11. emissions of CO2 and other climate changing gases;
  12. illegal construction index.
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