Italy is to become the first country to make climate change lessons compulsory in schools, Education Minister Lorenzo Fioramonti announced.
When children return to class in September 2020 after their summer holidays, their annual curriculum will also include 33 hours — approximately one per school week — dedicated to climate change and sustainable development.
“I want to make the Italian education system the first education system that puts the environment and society at the core of everything we learn in school,” Fioramonti explained to Reuters.
“The entire ministry is being changed to make sustainability and climate the centre of the education model,” he added.
Fioramonti, 42, is a former professor of political economy at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, and the author of two books he which he argues that Gross Domestic Product — the principal instrument used to measure the economic health of a country — is not representative of how healthy economies are and actually present a distorted picture.
He was elected to Italy’s parliament in March 2018 for the populist Five-Star Movement and was promoted minister in September after his party entered into a coalition with the centre-left Democratic Party.
He has called for new taxes on plane tickets and on profits from oil drilling to boost funds for educational and environmental policies.
In September, he also encouraged students to skip school and take part in the Fridays for Future protests which call on world leaders to take more decisive action to tackle climate change.
He described the movement — launched a year earlier by Swedish teen Greta Thunberg — as “essential”, adding that students’ future was being “threatened by environmental devastation and an unsustainable economic growth model.”