Giovanna Melandri

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Giovanna Melandri

Giovanna Melandri (born 28 January 1962) is an Italian politician. She was a MP in the Italian Parliament for 18 years (1994-2012) and held the positions of Minister for Culture (1998- 2001) and Minister for Youth and Sports (2006-2008).She is President of MAXXI - National Museum of the 21st Century Arts of Rome and founder and chairwoman of Human Foundation.

Early life and education[edit]

Giovanna Melandri was born in New York City, United States. She is married, has a daughter and lives in Rome.

She earned a diploma "cum laude" in Political Economy at the Sapienza University of Rome, and one of her teachers was Federico Caffè. In October 2000 she was awarded the title "Grant of the dignity of an Honorary Dame Commander of the Civil Division of the Order of the British Empire" by the Queen Elizabeth the Second and in July 2003 "Officier de la Legion d’Honneur" by the President of the French Republic, Jacques Chirac.

In February 2014, she was awarded "Architect ad honorem" by the Italian National Council of Architects, due to her work for promotion of architectural quality.


From 1983 to 1987, she was a coordinator for the work group on industrial and technological politics for Montedison.

An environmental activist since 1982, Giovanna Melandri has been in charge of international relations for Legambiente (1988 to 1994). In that capacity, she attended the Bergen Conference on Sustainable Development in 1990 and was a member of the Italian delegation to the UN Rio summit in 1992.

In 1991, she became member of the national secretariat for Democrats of the Left. She has been a deputy for the Italian Parliament since 1994. Melandri, who also holds U.S. citizenship, cast a vote for Barack Obama during the 2008 Democrats Abroad primary election.[1]

Between 1998 and 2001, she was minister of culture in the governments of Massimo D'Alema and Giuliano Amato.

On 17 May 2006, she was named minister for youth and sports in the second government of Romano Prodi.

In November 2012, she was appointed as Chairwoman of the "MAXXI Foundation - the Italian National Centre for contemporary art, architecture and design" ( by the Italian Minister of Culture. She took over the leadership of the institution also with executive functions. During her presidency, she raised budget and attendance of over 100% and established international cooperation with major cultural institutions. MAXXI is now honorary member of Altagamma, the Foundation that gathers High-End Italian Cultural and Creative Companies.

Since 2012 she is founder and Chairwoman of "Human Foundation. Giving and innovating" (, which promotes a new model of social economy in support of social business and social impact investment in Italy. Muhammad Yunus, Jacques Attali, John Podesta, Gunter Pauli, Bunker Roy, Stefano Zamagni, Massimo Recalcati, Enrico Giovannini, Aldo Bonomi, Francesco Starace amongst others are some of the members of the Advisory Board.

Human Foundation also works in training programmes for social entrepreneurs and applies social impact evaluation models (i.e. SROI social return on investment). Human Foundation designs new financial tools (i.e. Social Impact Bonds) cooperating with local and national government (i.e. Ministry of Justice). She is also president of Social Impact Agenda for Italy, an association of all stakeholders (social enterprises, banks, banking foundations and others) involved in the social impact investment market in Italy.

Institutional activities[edit]

From 1994 to 2012 she was a member of the Italian Parliament continuously. She was part of the Democratic party leadership and executive board from 1992 to 2013.

In the XII legislature (1994-1996) she was sitting in the Foreign Affairs Committee and was President of the Committee for Human Rights. She also supervised works of Childhood Special Committee. She was an active promoter of the law against sexual violence and she promoted the first establishment of the parliamentarian intergroup on bioethics which she coordinated for 2 years. This group worked on edge issues (i.e. artificial reproduction, clonation, biotestament).

In the XIII legislature (1996-1998), before being appointed Minister of Culture, she was a member of the Culture Committee. She proposed several bills on adoptions, bioethics, assisted reproduction and prohibition of extradition to countries that practice death penalty. She also proposed bills on publishing, telecommunications and public broadcasting. She represented Italy on the parliamentary delegation to the first World Forum on Television, organized by the UN in November 1997.

From 1998 to 2001 she was appointed Minister of Culture and Sport. Under her responsibility, Italian cultural policies have had the largest share of public funding ever (more than 3 billion euro) and were introduced the first measures of tax incentives for cultural investment. In those years many cultural restoration sites were finalized thanks to introduction of extraordinary sources of funding (i.e.: Lotto funds) and policies for contemporary art and architecture were initiated. A national bill establishing MAXXI was passed.

Jointly with the World Bank President James Wolfensohn and the First Lady Hillary Clinton, she promoted, in Florence in 1999, the international forum "Culture Counts Financing Resources and the Economics of Culture and Sustainable Development".

She was invited in 2000 by US President Clinton, as the European representative, at the White House Conference on Culture and Diplomacy.

In the XIV legislature (2001-2006), she was a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee (she was also a member of the Italian Parliamentary Delegation at the Council of Europe and at the WEU). She was a member of the Parliamentary Supervisory Board on RAI, the national Broadcasting TV. She proposed several bills on cinema, on promotion of books and reading, protection and promotion of cultural heritage.

In the XV legislature (2006-2008) she was appointed Minister for Youth and Sports. In this capacity, she launched the program "Giovani idee cambiano l’Italia" in support of entrepreneurial ideas launched by under 30; she launched the agreement with the ABI (Association of Italian Banks) for the program "Diamogli credito"; she established two new Funds, a Fund for youth policies and Fund for Sport for all. She established, in agreement with the Minister of the Interior, Giuliano Amato, the first Young Committee for Interreligious Dialogue, and in 2005, she actively participated to the Alliance For Civilization promoted by the Spanish and Turkish prime Ministers.

In the sixteenth legislature (2008-2012), she was a member of the VII Committee on Culture, Education and Science, and she was a member Supervisory Board on the RAI, the national Broadcasting TV.


Italian Chamber of Deputies
Preceded by
Deputy for Constituency XV, College 18 – Rome
Preceded by
Deputy for Constituency XV, College 1 – Rome Center
College abolished
Preceded by
Title jointly held
Deputy for Constituency XV – Lazio 1
Succeeded by
Title jointly held
Preceded by
Title jointly held
Deputy for Constituency X – Liguria
2008 onward
Political offices
Preceded by
Walter Veltroni
Italian Minister of Culture
Succeeded by
Giuliano Urbani
New title Minister for Youth and Sports
Succeeded by
Giorgia Meloni
Party political offices
New title Italian Shadow Minister of Communications
Title abolished
New title Head of Culture Department of the Democratic Party
2009 onward