The world is entering a phase of enormous upheavals. The geography of development is now marked by the arrival on the scene of new lead players - such as China, India and Brazil - which are destined to perform an ever increasingly important role in the global economy. There is much that is positive about this process of broadening of development, particularly in reducing the problems of deprivation and absolute poverty among vast sections of the world's population; but then it leads to new problems of balancing the additional demand for goods with the resources available. From this perspective, the idea of extending the energy-guzzling model of development, of major concentrations of industry, urban sprawl and services - the system that supported the economic growth of developed countries for much of the last century - is unsustainable. And it is all too likely that energy, environmental and food production issues will be of growing importance for development in the future. Italy, like all other countries, is being asked to give its contribution to face these problems. For some time, Italy has seen its growth and competitiveness in decline. It manages to stay in the Group of Eight forum because of the contribution of certain dynamic components in the production system (the mid-size industrial companies) and the international specialisation in certain sectors of medium technology for which world demand is strongly growing (tourism services, design and manufacturing quality, automation). But it is not yet putting in place those processes of innovation which could help it defend its positioning in the new international competition. Above all, it has not yet embarked on developing within the 'green economy' which, following the decisions taken by the international community (Kyoto and Europe 2020) and also considering the new ethical awareness of consumers, is destined to become one of the major drivers of future development.