Implementation of the NBSAP
Adopted in October 2010, the National Biodiversity Strategy (NBS) aims to merge and integrate biodiversity conservation targets and sustainable use of natural resources within sectoral policies, thereby implementing the vision of the Strategy which states: “Biodiversity and ecosystem services, our natural capital, are preserved, valued and, insofar as possible, restored for their intrinsic value so that they can continue to support economic prosperity and human well-being despite the profound changes that are taking place globally and locally”.
The NBS is structured around 3 key issues (biodiversity and ecosystem services, biodiversity and climate change, biodiversity and economic policies). Three strategic objectives have been developed to complement these 3 key issues; cross-cutting aspects of biodiversity have also been considered as have their integration in sectoral policies. In this light, achievement of the strategic objectives is addressed in 15 “work areas”: 1. species, habitats, landscape; 2. protected areas; 3. genetic resources; 4. agriculture; 5. Forests; 6. inland waters; 7. marine environment; 8. infrastructures and transportation; 9. urban areas; 10. Health; 11. Energy; 12. Tourism; 13. research and innovation; 14. education, information, communication and participation; 15. Italy and global biodiversity. Within each work area, specific objectives have been identified, as have specific measures to be undertaken towards their achievement.
The governance of the NBS is guaranteed by a National Biodiversity Committee (NBC), composed of representatives of all ministries and regions; the National Biodiversity Observatory (NBO), composed of technical and scientific experts; and a Consultation Table held with all stakeholders.
Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets
Implementation of the NBS is in line with EU policies dealing with biodiversity, and with the EU Biodiversity Strategy, whose targets are also consistent with the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Hence, there is a good match between the three strategies.
Italy is strongly committed to the implementation of the Strategic Plan and is making significant progress to achieve all Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and encouraged by the following results:
• The governance system of the National Strategy for Biodiversity significantly contributes to mainstreaming, aiming to enhance a cross-cutting approach, widen opportunities and procedures for disseminating and communicating significant initiatives that are ongoing in Italy.
• Protected areas system is very wide-ranging. For the time being, activities are directed towards increasing management efficiency, with the aim to maximize biodiversity conservation, including ecosystem services.
• Creation of operational databases and dedicated portals (these are tools that make steering policies possible, provide up-to-date figures for environmental assessment procedures, enhance and disseminate knowledge, and increase the level of biodiversity awareness). In this respect, the portal “Naturaitalia” has been identified as the National Biodiversity Clearing-House Mechanism and will play a pivotal role in the exchange of information among different sectors to contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in Italy.
The midterm review of the NBS pointed out the need to increase efforts at all institutional levels and that more effort is essential for communication activities and interaction between public and private entities; consideration should also be given to the opportunities provided by a green economy
The agreement of the midterm review of the NBS (2016) by the State-Region Conference has confirmed and strengthened Italy's commitment to achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Targets by 2020.
Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)
In Italy, legislation is the basis for many projects and actions for biodiversity conservation. The Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea was established in 1986 (Law 349). A Framework Law on Protected Areas (Law 394/91) and the Law for Sea Protection (Law 979/82), and respective subsequent amendments and integrations, comprise the main regulatory principles for terrestrial and marine protected areas in Italy. The establishment of Areas of Ecological Protection (AEP), commencing from the outer limit of Italian territorial waters up to the limits established in accordance with agreements signed with States whose territory is adjacent to or opposite to Italian territory, is also enshrined in legislation (Law 61/2006). Invasive Alien Species are addressed by EU Regulation 1143/2014 and national legislation.
The implementation of the National Biodiversity Strategy (NBS) requires a multidisciplinary approach and a great amount of sharing and collaboration among policy-makers and central and regional administrations, with the support of academic and scientific institutions, and other stakeholders. For this reason, the State-Region Conference was chosen as the venue for policy discussion and decision-making with regard to the NBS. By a Ministerial Decree (6 June 2011), the Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea established a governance body known as the National Biodiversity Committee (NBC), composed of representatives from Central Administrations, Regions and Autonomous Provinces, to support activities of the Conference and NBS implementation. In addition, the decree approved the creation of the National Biodiversity Observatory (NBO) which offers scientific and technical support to the NBC. Furthermore, it approved the establishment of the Consultation Table (CT), involving the NBC and representatives of main economic/production and environmental associations, to allow for consistency and the full engagement of all stakeholders in the process of implementing and reviewing the NBS.
Regarding the national implementation of the Strategy for Resource Mobilization, since 2010, the National Accounts Department has published, on an annual basis, national eco-accounts of the central administration’s public expenses for biodiversity. These activities will be considered within ongoing initiatives. Legislative activities have also been carried out to enhance the Natural Capital and environmental accounting, including the adoption of Law 221/2015 on "Environmental provisions to promote green economy
measures and the prevention of natural resources overexploitation".
Article 67 of Law 221/2015 established the Natural Capital Committee (NCC), including its functions and composition. The role of the Committee is to provide tools and information for the introduction of a system for assessing and recording the Natural Capital of Italy. The NCC is a public body, chaired by the Ministry of Environment. The Committee is also supported by external experts, as stakeholders, comprised of representatives from universities, the private sector and non-profit organizations. The NCC is committed to annually report to the Prime Minister and to the Ministry of Economy and Finance on the state of the Natural Capital and on the impact of public policies on the natural capital and ecosystem services. The NCC should also promote the establishment of an environmental accounting system among public and private organizations.
Italy anticipates implementation of Aichi Biodiversity Target 3 which states that, by 2020, at the latest, incentives, including subsidies, harmful to biodiversity are eliminated, phased out or reformed in order to minimize or avoid negative impacts, and positive incentives for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity are developed and applied, consistent and in harmony with the Convention and other relevant international obligations, taking into account national socioeconomic conditions.
Moreover, Article 70 of Law 221/2015 has introduced a new market based instrument (a scheme of payment for ecosystem services) to mobilize further financial resources for biodiversity restoration and conservation.
Public Funds for the protection of biodiversity come from different sources, related to both ordinary resources, from the budgets of the central government and regions, and additional resources, based on EU Structural Funds, i.e. the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF), the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), under the European Common Fisheries, as well as on EU direct Funds, such as LIFE, Horizon, etc.
In the EU programming period (2007-2013), at June 20151
, according to official statistics, Italy spent € 349 million for projects related specifically to natural resources under the European Regional Development Programs. Whereas, in the rural sector, Italy spent over € 4.2 billion in specific biodiversity measures2
under the Rural Development Regional Programs up to December 2014.
For the new EU programming cycle (2014-2020), within the Partnership Agreement (PA) (which is the strategic framework for the European Structural and Investment Funds3
), Italy has chosen to also finance investments under the thematic objectives (TO 6), “Preserving and protecting the environment and promoting the efficient use of its natural resources”. In relation to TO 6, Italy has selected eight expected results; two of these are strictly connected with biodiversity, such as: 6.5 “Contributing to reverse the losses of terrestrial and marine biodiversity, including the biodiversity related with rural landscape, through restoring and protecting ecosystem services”; and 6.6. “Improving the standard of tourism supply and fruition in natural areas”. Under the European Regional Development Fund, Italy has been allocated about € 241 million4
for investments to reach the expected results 6.5 and 6.6.
For the Rural Development Regional Programs, the level of resources allocated for the entire thematic objective 6 (TO 6) is about € 1.9 billion while, for the Operational Program European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), the amount is € 215 million. It is worth underlining that the entire TO 6 includes resources for the achievement of other environmental results, such as: improvement of waste management, water management, etc.
The LIFE (Financial Instrument for the Environment) is the EU’s financial instrument supporting environmental and nature conservation projects throughout the EU. Since the launch of the LIFE program by the European Commission in 1992, a total of 725 projects have been financed in Italy. Of these, 445 focus on environmental innovation, 268 on nature conservation and biodiversity and 12 on information and communication. These projects represent a total investment of €1.1 billion, of which €488 million has been provided by the European Union. In the 2007-2014 period, 104 projects were financed for nature conservation at a total cost of €315 million.
 The 2007-2013 EU programming period lasts until December 2015. Therefore, the level of expenditures at June 2015 can be considered a good indicator of the programs implementation level.
 It refers to the following RDPs measures: 213 Natura 2000 payments and payments linked to Directive 2000/60/EC, 214 Agri-environment payments, 216 Non-productive investments, 224 Natura 2000 payments, 227 Non-productive investments, 323 Conservation and upgrading of the rural heritage.
 The European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) in Italy are: the European Regional Development Fund, The European Social Fund, The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
 This is an indicative value that can be subject to slight changes due to program’s negotiation at regional level, at the moment of the PA’s adoption.
Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation
The NBS will be implemented from 2011 to 2020, with a report issued every two years, dealing with progress made towards the achievement of strategic objectives and specific goals in the work areas. In 2015, a shared and in-depth assessment of the validity of the Strategy’s approach was conducted, and in 2016 the midterm review of the NBS was approved (coherent with the midterm review of the European Biodiversity Strategy to 2020).
The first synergistic collaboration between the NBO and NBC resulted in the establishment of a preliminary set of NBS indicators to support the above assessment. In the first instance, 13 indicators for measuring the state of biodiversity and 30 indicators for evaluation have been developed. At present, the NBO is seeking to implement and improve this set of indicators.
The monitoring carried out in Italy, in accordance with the Habitats and Birds Directives, is another important information source for assessing implementation of the NBS.
As an EU Member State, Italy is participating in a process which began in 2014 on the Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES) for assessing the economic value of such services, and promoting the integration of these values into accounting and reporting systems at the EU and national levels by 2020. In the initial phase of this process, Italy produced a map of its ecosystems and a map evaluating their conservation status. Furthermore, at the local level (administrative regions), maps have been produced indentifying territories for which each administrative region will schedule/plan interventions to restore ecosystems that are at a low level of conservation, particularly representative for the region, or which have an extremely low degree of coverage.
The aim of the national MAES process is to provide an important contribution to the integration of the value of ecosystems and their services in decision-making and accounting systems and budgetary reporting, through the recognition of the value of Natural Capital, both in physical terms and monetary terms.