In an interview in Rome, Education Minister Lorenzo Fioramonti said all state primary and secondary schools would dedicate 33 hours per year, almost one hour per school week, to climate change issues from the start of the next academic year in September.
The minister added that many traditional subjects, such as geography, mathematics and physics, would also be studied from the perspective of sustainable development.
The syllabus will be based on the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals, including how to live more sustainably, how to combat the pollution of the oceans and how to address poverty and social injustice.
“Italy will be the first country in the world to adopt this framework,” Fioramonti told The Telegraph.
“There are countries like Bhutan which focus on happiness and wellbeing rather than GDP, but this is the first time that a country has taken the UN agenda and turned it into a teaching model.”
A member of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S), Fioramonti is the government’s most vocal supporter of green policies and was criticised by the right-wing opposition in September for encouraging students to skip school and take part in climate protests.
His proposals for new taxes on airline tickets, plastic and sugary foods to raise funds for education were also slammed by critics who said Italians were already over-taxed.
Despite the criticism, the government’s 2020 budget presented to parliament this week included both the plastic tax and a new tax on sugary drinks.
“I was ridiculed by everyone and treated like a village idiot, and now a few months later the government is using two of those proposals and it seems to me more and more people are convinced it is the way to go,” Fioramonti said.