The Sustainable Development Festival

Following the success of the previous editions, and five years after the adoption of the UN 2030 Agenda, the yearly Sustainable Development Festival returns with its fourth edition. In light of the health emergency that is affecting the world, the 2020 edition of the Festival, originally planned for May-June, will take place from September 22nd to October 8th. This decision, in observation of the Government's recommendations, was taken to preserve the spirit of the Festival, that stems from the mobilization of people and the exchange of ideas and best practices on the 2030 Agenda.

Thanks to the reputation acquired, and to the growing mobilization of Italian society on the themes of sustainable development, the event will represent a further step to encourage Italy to achieve the 2030 Agenda. The Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development (ASviS), that brings together over 270 organizations from the economic and social spheres, organizes the Festival together with its members and with the support of the partners and tutors, over a period of 17 days, as many as the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN’s 2030 Agenda[1]. The initiative constitutes a single widespread and inclusive event, comprising hundreds of events organized throughout the national territory.

The Festival was created to raise awareness among growing segments of the population on social, economic and environmental sustainability, going beyond subject-matter experts, in order to foster a cultural shift in individual and collective behaviors, and to stimulate “bottom-up” requests that commit the Country’s leadership to comply with the agreements undertaken in the UN. Furthermore, the Festival wants to give voice to citizens, businesses, national and local administrations, universities and civil society in order to foster dialogue and the sharing of best practices on the issues of the 2030 Agenda.

The Festival is a unique experience at international level that allows to reach millions of people in Italy every year thanks to the participation of hundreds of organizations all over the Country, the active role played by universities and the opening of "sustainable development squares” in a number of major Italian cities. This stimulates an unprecedented reflection on the future of our Country, of Europe and the world. In 2019 the Festival was nominated, among over 2,000 projects, as a finalist for the SDG Action Awards of the UN SDG Action Campaign, for it being an innovative initiative and a unique experience in the world.



Conventions, debates, book presentations, exhibitions, film reviews, guided tours, flashmobs: these are the initiatives of the over 230 members of ASviS and of other civil society organizations that are active in Italy, aiming to raise awareness on the various aspects of sustainable development in line with the spirit of civil society involvement promoted by the United Nations.

In its 2020 edition, the Festival expands its reach beyond Italy: ASviS invites everyone around the world to organize events in the context of the Sustainable Development Festival. All countries are called to contribute to achieving the 2030 Agenda: submit your local event here.

[1] In September 2015, 193 countries, including Italy, adopted the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, committing to achieve 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. Since then, international organizations, national and local governments, businesses and civil society organizations across the world have mobilized to design and implement policies and strategies to achieve the 17 SDGs and 169 Targets the Agenda sets forth.

The 2020 Sustainable Development Festival

The next edition of the Italian Sustainable Development Festival will represent an important chapter in the path to achieving the 2030 Agenda. The year 2020 will mark five years since the adoption of the global agreement by 193 UN countries, as well as the beginning of the “decade of action” launched by the UN General Assembly in September 2019 to deliver the SDGs and the year by which 21 of the 169 Targets of the Agenda are due. The year 2020 will also be the fifth anniversary of the COP21 Conference, which saw the adoption of the Paris Agreement, and of the Addis Ababa Conference on financing development. It will also be five years since the publication of Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato si’”, known worldwide for its suggestion of a shared ethic for human development and environmental safeguard.

In the last years, there have been several encouraging developments at the national and international levels with respect to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The new European Commission led by Ursula von der Leyen boldly responded to the requests that have come from the EU Parliament, the Council and European civil society, with an action plan that revolves around a vision in which economic, social and environmental policies appear coherently oriented towards the objective of making the European Union the “world champion of sustainable development”, as stated in the title of the opening event of the 2019 Italian Sustainable Development Festival.

With the onset of the new Government, sustainable development has also clearly entered the Italian political agenda, and one can notice the change that is occurring in the business world and in public opinion, underscoring the need for a different development model, a change aided by the mobilization of millions of young people that have drawn everyone’s attention to the climate emergency.

Compared to the previous editions, the 2020 Festival will therefore build on a wider support for bold actions from citizens, businesses, labor unions, civil society and public opinion. Nonetheless, the world does not seem to be getting closer to a condition of sustainability. The situation calls for a deep reflection on our way of seeing things, an enquiry into the existence of shared values and ethics for sustainable development.

The Festival will also include conferences organized by ASviS' Secretariat and about 13 large-scale conferences that will each draw attention to a specific Sustainable Development Goal, highlighting its primary and most urgent issues. Adding to all this, thousands of other events scattered across national territory will tell stories of sustainability, share ideas and best practices to respond to the questions launched by the Festival.

The results of the previous editions

Year after year, the results of the Festival have been increasingly remarkable, starting from the 220 initiatives of the first edition, to the 702 in 2018, topped by the 1,060 events of the 2019 edition; this confirms the growing awareness towards the themes of sustainable development.

In particular, the 2019 Festival registered ample media coverage: all major media outlets, both national and local, covered the Festival, reaching a total of about 1.044 articles and TV and radio segments (+58% compared to 2018), including both print and online versions. Furthermore, the institutional campaign broadcast by the RAI networks, in collaboration with the Department for Information and Publishing of the Government and RAI’s Social Responsibility Department reached more than 100 million overall viewers. The channels of the Sky platform featured the ad for the Festival’s campaign, which was shown 310 times in total. Online, in the month when the Festival was launched (May), the website www.asvis.it registered a record number of visitors, with 45 thousand users, +28% compared to the previous year, while the website www.festivalsvilupposostenibile.it was visited by 52 thousand users (+40% compared to the previous year).

The social media channels of the Alliance confirmed the real interest of the Italian society to take part in the debate on sustainable development, with 2.2 Tweet views on the ASviS profile and 2.4 million views of Facebook posts during the Festival period. The #FestivalSviluppoSostenibile was trending topic in Italy during the days of the events of the Secretariat, reaching over 22 million people, while the call to action #METTIAMOMANOALFUTURO (let’s lend our hands to the future) highlighted over 100 projects aimed at drawing attention to the positive behaviors of companies, civil society organizations and individuals, reaching over 5 million people and 100 thousand unique users with the hashtag in just 10 days.