Interview: Giuseppe Guzzetti

'When problems are left unsolved citizens drift away, lose faith in the democratic system.'

After an illustrious career in both national and local politics in Italy – he has been both President of the Lombardy region and a member of the Italian parliament - and as President of Fondazione Cariplo, the largest Italian foundation, Giuseppe Guzzetti is retiring at the age of 85. He gives Andrew Milner the benefit of his accumulated wisdom and experience, discussing the importance of innovation in the social sector, the present and the future of philanthropy in Europe and, indeed, the future of Europe itself.

In your time with Fondazione Cariplo, what changes have you seen, first, in the Fondazione itself, second, in Italian philanthropy and, finally, in philanthropy in Europe?

With respect to philanthropy in Italy and, more specifically, Fondazione Cariplo, we were brought into existence by the Amato Law in 1990. Italian savings banks had previously had no shareholders, which EU law required, and any income from its banking and financial activities was allocated to social utility activities mainly in two areas, arts and culture and the welfare sector. The Amato Law separated the banking and charitable activities and the process of setting up the foundation was completed by another law, the Ciampi Law, in 1998.

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Andrew Milner