ITALY – The political fallout surrounding the UNFPA State of the World Population Report 2023

In a message to Worldpop, a representative of Aidos in Italy wrote: “Yesterday, like other civil society organisations, we launched the UNFPA State of the World Population Report (SWOP) 2023 which addresses the topic of the milestone of 8 billion people inhabiting the planet. The launch was successful thanks to the high quality of the speeches given by the panelists at the press conference and the extensive media coverage we got.”

However, she continued: “This presentation took place at a difficult and worrying time for the Italian political context. In Italy, in fact, the birth rate is at an all-time low, with less than seven births and more than 12 deaths per 1,000 population. This situation gives the Italian government the opportunity to talk about [national] demographics in a very alarmist tone, for example, when addressing the issue of the workforce to be employed in the future and the ongoing migration processes.

In fact, on the 18th of April 2023, the day before the SWOP launch, Agriculture Minister Lollobrigida (Fratelli d’Italia party) had stated publicly: “We cannot give in to the idea of ethnic replacement.” He explained further: “Italians are having fewer children, so we replace them with someone else. That is not the way.” He stressed that Italy needs to “build welfare that allows people to work and have families, support young couples to find employment.” Despite these words, which AIDOS describe as echoing Viktor Orbán’s Hungarian government model, Lollobrigida pointed out that immigration can “become an opportunity for a nation to grow”. He argued: “I consider immigration a natural and physiological fact. I am the grandson of an emigrant, so I am careful not to think that emigration and immigration are a problem.” The opportunities to which Lollobrigida refers concern the labour sector, where, according to him, the entry of a “labour force” from other countries is justified in the face of many unfilled job positions. This represents a change from what was said in 2017 by the not-yet Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, who declared: “We are the nation that last year made 100,000 Italians flee abroad and brought 500,000 asylum-seeking immigrants to Italy in three years. I think there is a design of ethnic replacement in Italy.”

SOURCES: Email from Maria Grazia Panunzi, Aidos Italy, 20 April 2023 ;, by Federica Pascale, 19+24 April 2023 ; VISUAL