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The Italian Sustainable Development Festival
Introduction

The Italian Sustainable Development Festival is a national awareness-raising campaign launched by the Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development (ASviS) every year since 2017 to promote and spread a culture of sustainability in the Italian society. The Festival takes place every year in late May, and spans over the course of 17 days, the same number as the SDGs. The first edition in 2017 featured over 200 events, followed by the 2018 one, with over 700 events, with a 2019 edition scheduled for May 2019. This nationwide experience is possible thanks to the contribution of all members of Italian society.

Objective of the practice

The primary objective of the Festival is to raise awareness of the 2030 Agenda, and the 2018 edition has been even more successful than the previous one: thousands of people participated in the events, the websites were visited over half a million times and the social media pages of the Alliance reached tens of million users. The growing number of events, and the increased participation over the years means that the Festival is spreading the culture of sustainability to a growing number of Italians, and that it is a pivotal initiative to help propel the country to the achievement of the SDGs. The first edition of the Festival featured over 200 events, the second over 700. In 2018, thousands of people participated in the events, the websites were visited over half a million times and the social media pages of the Alliance reached tens of millions of users. Furthermore, the traditional media featured the festival in over 500 articles. The success of the Festival is a stepping stone for a broader debate on sustainability during the entire year, and organizers of single events are stimulated to follow up their activities each year. Policy makers are drawn to the success of the Festival, for example the 12 Mayors of the Italian Metropolitan cities signed an agreement to use the SDGs in the administration of their cities. Furthermore, the success of the Festival has demonstrated the growth of interest in the subject among Italian citizens.

Key stakeholders and partnerships

The Festival works thanks to the efforts of the Secretariat of the Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development, whose tasks included the definition of the criteria for admission to the Festival, the creation and maintenance of the dedicated website and social media pages, a constant engagement with the press at the national level, the coordination with the partners of the Festival. Furthermore, in 2018 the Secretariat contributed to organize 15 major events, and was exclusively responsible for organizing the opening, middle and closing events.

Implementation of the Project/Activity

The Italian Festival for Sustainable Development was born out of the desire to involve Italian society in raising awareness on the 2030 Agenda. Organized by the Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development (ASviS), the Festival features an open call to civil society organizations, institutions, business and private citizens to organize events featuring the Sustainable Development Goals over the course of 17 days in late May every year The events can take place anywhere in Italy. The proposed events are vetted by the ASviS Secretariat, and are pubblished on a dedicated website, in order to grant them maximum coverage. In addition to the events that are spontaneously organized, ASviS organized around 20 major events: 3 on the opening middle and closing days of the Festival, and about 15 on specific SDGs, occasionally grouping them. These events form the backbone of the Festival, and allow the over 200 member organizations of ASviS a space to present the work they have accomplished during the year in the working groups of the Alliance.

Results/Outputs/Impacts

The first edition of the Festival featured over 200 events, the second over 700. In 2018, thousands of people participated in the events, the websites were visited over half a million times and the social media pages of the Alliance reached tens of millions of users. Furthermore, the traditional media featured the festival in over 500 articles. The success of the Festival is a stepping stone for a broader debate on sustainability during the entire year, and organizers of single events are stimulated to follow up their activities each year. Policy makers are drawn to the success of the Festival, for example the 12 Mayors of the Italian Metropolitan cities signed an agreement to use the SDGs in the administration of their cities. Furthermore, the success of the Festival has demonstrated the growth of interest in the subject among Italian citizens.

Enabling factors and constraints

The Festival has experienced a growing number of events. This has been possible thanks to the growing mobilization of the Italian society on sustainable development in general, and the 2030 Agenda in particular. The growing numbers of the Festival are the clearest indicator of its success. On this basis, it is safe to say that it is producing a shift in people’s attitudes towards sustainable development. Its success encourages policy makers to take bold steps in favour of the SDGs and to support similar initiatives throughout the year. Several top level representatives of the Italian institutions participated in the major events of the Festival, contributing to their debates. Its nature as an open call to all sectors of Italian Society guarantees that nobody is excluded from it and creates opportunities to brings the themes of sustainability in the lives of many that had ever heard of it before. The Festival’s organization can be replicated nationally, locally and internationally, and can be eventually scaled.

Sustainability and replicability

The Festival's format is easily scaled up or down and can be adapted to different circumstances. In and of it itself, the growth of the Festival is proof that it still has not achieved its full potential within the Italian society. Within the Festival, there have been various smaller festivalls taking place, usually confined to a single city or group of cities with similar initiatives taking place for a few days. The entire Festival can be reduced or expanded both in term of the number of days it covers, and the number of events that are allowed to take place. This can in turn allow the coordination of the activities based on the available resources.

Conclusions

The Festival is unique in its kind and absolutely innovative in Italy. By bringing together hundreds of organizers throughout the country from all levels of society, it offers an eclectic mixture of events that share a common focus. It opens the possibility for everyone to be part of it and makes all of the hundreds of organizers stakeholders in its success. These aspects allow the Festival to be something more than a traditional awareness raising campaign, by mobilizing actors that would be normally excluded. A feature of the festival is its dedicated website, which offers an overview of all of the events, which can be filtered geographically or by SDG. The Festival was covered daily by the ASviS media channels and by a dedicated web news channel offering a selection of the interviews and reports.

Other sources of information

ASviS Website: asvis.it/ (English version: asvis.it/asvis-italian-alliance-for-sustainable-development)
2018 Festival Website: festivalsvilupposostenibile.it/2018 (English Version: festivalsvilupposostenibile.it/2018/english/)

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Other, please specify
The Festival operates both thanks to the financial and in-kind contributions of ots partners
Basic information
Start: 22 May, 2018
Completion: 07 June, 2018
Ongoing? no
Region
Europe
Countries
Geographical Coverage
Throughout Italy
Entity
Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development
Type: Civil society organization
Contact information
Andrea Bonicatti, Secretariat, andrea.bonicatti@asvis.net,
Photos
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