The notion of 'sustainable welfare state' is highly contested.
Building on the systematic analysis of relevant legislation,
official documents by the government, social and political actors'
publications, as well as interviews with key informants, in this
chapter we clarify how Italian political and social actors
conceptualize sustainability and the related notion of 'eco welfare
state'. Secondly, we analyze the main political parties and interest
groups' proposals aimed at building a social protection system that
may protect the environment. Finally, we highlight the main
obstacles along the path towards integrated economic, social and
environmental sustainability. Our results show that awareness has
significantly grown in the last five years, along with contrasting
'conceptualizations' of sustainability among social and political
élites. Moreover, our in-depth reconstruction reveals that relevant
political, economic and institutional obstacles have so far
prevented sound actions towards the construction of a more
sustainable welfare state.