Italian cooperation, the election of the new director of the International Development Aid Agency is imminent: will he be a diplomat or a technician?

Italian cooperation, the election of the new director of the International Development Aid Agency is imminent: will he be a diplomat or a technician?

ROME - The Italian Agency for Cooperation and Development (AICS) is awaiting the appointment of the new Director. After the interviews for the selection of about thirty candidates, we are now waiting for the triad (or five) of names that Foreign Minister Tajani will submit for the choice of Giorgia Meloni. Among the candidates, some diplomats, some authoritative names with long experience in AICS itself and some other candidates from international organizations. The new Director will be faced with the need to continue the growth of the structure, which has come to have an annual budget of almost one billion, including finance, mission decrees and ever-increasing resources from the European Commission.

A small "development multinational". So a challenge that presents itself above all as a managerial one for a small "development multinational", which promotes and manages hundreds of humanitarian projects, with offices all over the world and the obligation to deal with operational issues ranging from agreements with governments and organizations international relations, relations with the Italian administrations and other players in the complex "humanitarian system", made up of NGOs, businesses, local authorities, universities. A management of conspicuous resources, for which managerial skills are indispensable, a knowing how to move with authority in the Italian context, even before the international one. And then there is a need for special attention to the transparency of procedures and the separation of functions and roles.

Pressure from the Diplomatic Corps. In this sense, the idea of ​​appointing a Director from the ranks of diplomacy to the top of the Agency continues to arouse some perplexity. This has happened up to now for a very weak reason: it has happened (and it could happen again) that the ambassadors, having assigned by law the role of indicating the general political direction to the Agency, tend to want to impose its leadership with their man. A choice which, also in the light of past experiences, and by the admission of some diplomats who have had experience in managing the Agency, should advise greater prudence in moving away from the scheme of the reform law of international cooperation (Law No. 125 of 2014) which instead gives the Agency autonomy in the definition of technical policies and in the management of funds.

Three appointments in the next few years. It is certain that Palazzo Chigi, whose international activism has been growing considerably in recent months, may want a technician who can guarantee maximum harmony with respect to three appointments in the coming years, at the center of the development policy that the country wishes to express.

- The African Planthe contents of which are still unknown

- The President of the G7with decisive connections with the interventions related to the Cooperation that will be held during the days of the international meeting scheduled for June 2024, immediately after the European elections, on topics such as the environment, water, education, migrations, which will be at the center of the work of the Agenda .

- The Summit of the future, launched by the Secretary General of the United Nations, precisely to reaffirm the commitments to achieve the sustainable development goals of the 2030 Agenda.

The projection of Italy's image in the world. The choice of the new Director, therefore, could make the Agency finally assume the political status that it had been given also to get it out of the game entirely and only within the Farnesina. A political weight of complex management, precisely because it is a front-line instrument for the projection of Italy's international image, based however on the contents, ideas and technical skills within the Agency to be allocated for global development.

The opinions of the Italians. At the moment, the average opinion of Italian citizens towards the Italian Cooperation and in particular towards the funds destined for Public Development Assistance (ODA), emerged from a survey last December, which indicates a limited knowledge of the argument: only 8% in fact knew how to approximate the percentage of Gross National Income destined for ODA, and almost 60% indicated the Ministry for Economic Development as the main manager of aid.

Ideas on Military Expenditure and Cooperation. For example, when Italy's international prestige is considered, spending on international cooperation seems to have a more positive impact than spending on defence, in the average perception of our country's citizens. A perception that is confirmed by 41% of the interviewees, who believe that an increase in spending on development aid would increase the international prestige of our country; only 31%, on the other hand, would be in favor of a possible increase in defense spending.

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