Het Italiaanse parlementsgebouw in Rome. © E. Kieckens

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who has been at the helm since today (February 13, 2021), has turned a new page in history by setting up the Ministry of Ecological Transition. This department has everything it needs to make a real impact in the future. The brand new ministry deals with all aspects of the environment and will be responsible for energy policy.

Minister Cingolani is both a consummate academic and a successful manager

The ministry also coordinates the interministerial committee for the ecological transition. This is the way to avoid competency problems and enable work to start as soon as possible. The ministry is flanked by the Ministry of Innovation.

IIT looks like MIT

Draghi has chosen Milanese physicist Roberto Cingolani as minister. This appears to be a solid choice. Cingolani is both a conssumate academic and a successful manager. He gained international experience at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Germany and at the Institute of Industrial Sciences in Tokyo, among others. In 2005, Cingolani established the Istituto Italiana di Tecnologia (IIT, Italian Institute of Technology) in Genoa, a counterpart to MIT and not just because of its almost identical acronym. The IIT is an independent institute with an annual budget of 100 million euros.

Sustainability is not ecology

Up until he was appointed minister on February 12, Cingolani was the CTIO (chief technology innovation officer) at Leonardo, one of the world’s largest defense companies. Last December, under his leadership, Leonardo was added to the so-called Climate A list that ranks companies with high climate-action scores. Cingolani clarified his vision several months ago.“Sustainability is not exclusively an ecological theme for me, but rather a huge compromise that connects society, finance and technology in a flexible way,” Cingolani wrote in the saily newspaper La Repubblica

Corona funds

Italy is not presently at the forefront of the transition to a sustainable society. For one thing, foreign policy is more or less in the thrall of ENI, the Italian oil producer. Over 19 billion euros are spent annually on subsidies that are harmful to the environment and another 600 million euros are paid in fines for violating European environmental policy.

The new government ministry comes at a time when the European Union has placed its bets on ecological transition with, among others, the New Green Deal. Italy can count on almost 210 billion euros from ‘corona funds’ (the Next Generation EU package), of which 70 billion will go to the ecological transition.

Austria, Spain and France are the only other European countries that already have a ministry of ecological transition in place.

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About the author

Author profile picture Ewout Kieckens is a Dutch journalist in Rome who writes about Italian lifestyle and culture. He has written books on diverse subjects such as the Vatican and Italian design. He is very interested in innovations, especially Italian contribution to progress.