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Sectors of intervention

The DGCS will continue to work on identifying a limited number of sectors of intervention in the priority countries for the next three-year period. Generally speaking, Italian Development Cooperation will focus on a maximum of three areas for each priority country in the period 2014-2016. The choice for each country will be based on the importance of its role in development policies, the comparative advantage that Italy may have in the area concerned, the possibility of reaching a critical mass of resources in the specific areas by integrating the resources used by other Italian entities, the work-sharing arrangements agreed with other cooperation and development actors, with particular reference to the European Commission and the EU Member States, and the commitments made by Italy within the framework of international bodies, such as the G8 and G20.

Agriculture, food security and access to water

On 18 October 2012, the DGCS's Steering Committee approved the Guidelines for agriculture, rural development and food security, which establish strategic and thematic guidance and effectiveness markers. Within this framework, Italy takes active part in the work of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition launched by the United States Presidency of the G8 at the Camp David Summit in May 2012, in continued adherence to the principles drawn up for the Aquila Food Security Initiative. At the same time, Italy is making efforts to step up the action of the Committee on World Food Security set up within the framework of the Food and Agriculture Organization, to facilitate dialogue between the various stakeholders (governments, civil society and the private sector), and is actively cooperating with the agencies of the Rome-based FAO. As a further part of its multilateral program, Italian Development Cooperation supports agricultural research and innovation for development purposes, by supporting the work of the CGIAR (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research) and its members, and by defining and implementing the Tropical Agriculture Platform hosted by the FAO. In parallel with the above and by recourse to the bilateral channel, our work in the agricultural sector focuses chiefly on the ecological intensification of agriculture, support for small-scale farmers and producers' organizations, the promotion of research and innovation, and support services. We also pay special attention to fragile countries, such as those in post-conflict or post-emergency situations, with a view to promoting the process of strengthening institutions, restoring the civil fabric in rural areas and reconstructing the underpinnings of small-scale agricultural production, with particular emphasis on training. Italy's long-standing commitment to cooperation in agriculture and general development of the rural sectors in partner countries will be backed up by the attention paid in national and international fora to food and nutrition security (the theme of Expo Milano 2015) in the general context of improvement of local food systems. The pillars and strengths of Italy's action in this sector consist in combating chronic malnutrition, ensuring the wellbeing of mothers and their children in the first 1000 days of life, good fund management, attention to the role of women in agricultural production, and responsible investment in agriculture (with possible virtuous involvement of the private sector). In keeping with the theme of Expo 2015, furthermore, our action will be interlinked with the increasingly important and central task of combating food waste. Italy is acknowledged to have developed a number of best practices in these fields, which will be highlighted and accorded due value. Attention will also be paid to the output of the sixth World Water Forum held in Marseilles in March 2012, insofar as it is inextricably linked with food security, rural development and growing demand for energy. The search for an integrated new approach to the subject of universal access to water and basic sanitation will represent the fundamental platform of Italy's and other nations' contribution to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

Environment and cultural heritage

Italian Development Cooperation plays a major role in international action to mitigate the effects of climate change, carefully assess the impact of its interventions, and ensure efficient, sustainable use and management of natural resources. The DGCS also attributes considerable importance to safeguarding cultural heritage, in view of Italy's undoubted advantages compared with other donors. In this respect, the STREAM programs take due consideration of these areas, which will subject to targeted interventions and transverse actions consistent with the specific guidelines recently produced by the DGCS.

Human development, health and education

Italy has a long tradition of engagement in combating large-scale pandemics. This has found expression in the launch of major multilateral initiatives, such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and in the formulation and introduction of innovative development finance instruments, such as the Advanced Market Commitment and the International Finance Facility for Immunization. Italy's work on controlling communicable diseases is backed up by its specific efforts in the field of maternal and infant health, made within the framework of the Muskoka Initiative launched by the Canadian Presidency of the G8 in 2010, and by the training of healthcare personnel, for the purpose of continuing to strengthen health systems and ensure universal access to healthcare. Italy will therefore continue to uphold its commitment to combating chronic diseases in low-income countries (UN high-level meeting on non-communicable disease prevention and control, New York 19-20 September 2011). In education, Italian Development Cooperation will confirm its commitment to achieving the goals of Education for All and Millennium Goals 2 and 3, aimed at securing the right to high-quality basic education, without discrimination on grounds of gender. In this field, Italy supports the global coordinating role assigned to UNESCO and a number of specific institutional capacity development initiatives undertaken by the organization in Africa, which reached completion in 2013. In line with G8 priorities, work started in 2013 on formulating appropriate measures for supporting the Global Partnership for Education, which is the main financial mechanism for strengthening national education programs in the 53 partner countries. We will also strive to reinforce the synergies between our multilateral and bilateral programs in our priority countries, with particular reference to the strategic goals set by the Global Partnership for Education for the three-year period, namely support for conflict-affected and fragile states, girls' education, quality of learning, and teacher training. All available funding instruments, including aid credit, will be used in pursuit of this goal. Lastly, we will closely follow developments – including the financial implications still being finalized – relating to the new Education First initiative promoted by the Secretary General of the United Nations at its 67th General Assembly. The aims of the initiative are to raise the quality and relevance of educational input in relation to the requirements of the world of work, and the need to promote values of global citizenship, environmental awareness and peaceful conflict resolution.

Promotion of human rights, gender equality, democratic participation, improvement of governance and support for civil society

Attention to the quality of the political and democratic context, and to respect for human rights in general and women's' rights in particular is the top priority of Italy's development cooperation work. Fostering democratic ownership means promoting forms of direct support for local institutions, social and stakeholder networks, unions and local civil society organizations, which provide a voice for the various social components of developing countries. It is not merely a question of supporting the demands of the various actors vis-à-vis their governments, but of promoting and improving interaction between the state, intermediary bodies and citizens, and promoting respect for human rights and the principles of transparency. In this area, Italian Development Cooperation draws inspiration from the Agenda for Change, which emphasizes the close link between development, respect for human rights, democracy and good governance.

Endogenous, inclusive and sustainable economic development of the private sector, including through support for the financial system

Development of the private sector in partner countries, based on the principles of free competition, respect for workers' rights, safeguarding of the environment and international openness is a pre-requisite (necessary but not in itself sufficient) not only for sustainable economic growth, but also for establishing democratic and participatory principles, and eliminating discrimination. In light of the outcomes of the Busan High-Level Forum, the relationship between cooperation and the internationalization of businesses needs a new synthesis capable of fostering more effective convergence and interaction of its goals, while continuing to respect those goals. The international cooperation forum in Milan emphasized the importance of attracting businesses to priority countries for development cooperation, not only for the purposes of prompting the exercise of corporate social responsibility, but also with a view to asking businesses to contribute, in synergy with the public and non-profit sector, to the pursuit of sustainable human development. On this subject, the European Commission has approved a Communication in which it introduces a distinction between Private Sector Development and Private Sector Engagement, where the latter term refers to more direct involvement of the private sector in projects having a clear and synergistic development objective. The Inter-Institutional Table for Development Cooperation, in which an active role is played by non-public entities (such as businesses, banking foundations and the cooperative sector), also constitutes a creative support in relation to the possibility of promoting synergies between the public and private sectors, by identifying possible pilot initiatives through the use of a dedicated work-group. Italy's experience of aggregated Small and Medium Enterprises organized into networks, using common services to benefit from economies of scale, together with the country's experience of the cooperative system, gives Italy a comparative advantage vis-à-vis other donors in contributing, through its widespread business community, to the growth of the private sector in developing countries, which is often marginalized by the intrusive practices of the state or locked out by the existence of monopolies. In this regard, the six-month term of Italy's Presidency of the European Union provided an important opportunity to enhance Europe's private sector development policy by incorporating into it a support strategy for the SMEs and cooperative systems of partner countries that prioritizes the promotion of both local networks (e.g. industrial clusters) and international networks.