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Samantha Cristoforetti. “Expo Milano 2015 is a fascinating, wonderful and enjoyable place to visit”

Innovation / -

During her first visit to Expo Milano 2015, on Tuesday October 6, Captain Samantha Cristoforetti expressed her huge satisfaction at the success of the Universal Exposition, of which she is also an official Ambassador.

Ambassador of Expo Milano 2015, Captain Samantha Cristoforetti enthusiastically sustained the Milan Universal Exposition from space, onboard the International Space Station. After Returning to Earth on June 11, she was finally able to visit the Expo Site on Tuesday October 6, along with her colleagues from Mission Future, the Russian Anton Shkaplerov and the American Terry Virts. “I finally got here! – she exclaimed to ExpoNet, the Universal Exposition’s Official Magazine – Expo is a really fascinating and varied place, as well as being beautiful and great fun to visit. So many happy people! And I must say, Palazzo Italia really does credit to our country.”
 
Feeding the Planet thanks to space technologies
The astronaut also explained the close connection between the space mission she was involved in and the Expo theme of Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life… “On the Orbiting Space Station, a lot of experiments are carried out on plants, for two main reasons: on the one hand in order to study ways of producing food directly onboard spaceships, for example when we get to really long journeys, like missions to Mars, and on the other hand, in order to understand more about plants’ mechanisms for genetic expression, to help select genetic varieties more suitable for particular climates and territories.”
 
After visiting Pavilion Zero, the USA and Russian Pavilions and Palazzo Italia, the astronaut had an encounter in the Alitalia-Etihad Pavilion with fifty adolescent pupils from a Secondary School in the Province of Milan. Here she encouraged her young audience to explore the world in order to learn how to keep looking at it from new viewpoints.
 

Plantation syndrome

Culture / -

imm rif tratta atlantica
© Sebastien Desarmaux_Godong_Corbis

The African slave trade is an historical phenomenon that still conditions the present day in many countries. The International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade provides an occasion for reflection on the subject

Millions of people worldwide start their day by pouring a cup of coffee, adding sugar, stirring, and taking that first sip. A set of automatic gestures that rarely leads one to think of the history that informs our actions. The same could be said for tea, or hot chocolate. These commodities have become part of the pleasures of the average day, they help us to socialize, and represent a fundamental aspect of many cultures worldwide.

A cup of coffee
And yet we need only go back in time a couple of centuries to encounter a bitter paradox: sugar, coffee, cocoa, and tea, all of them familiar and comforting products to us, are the outcome of one of the most dramatic tales in human history: the African slave trade towards the Americas and the Caribbean.
 
The development of these staples was only possible via the reduction to lifelong servitude of millions of people, the vast majority of them African.
 
The United Nations’ annual International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, on March 25, provides an occasion to look back at this period of history.

Slaves west- and east-bound
The transatlantic slave trade operated for nearly four hundred years, from the 16th to the mid-19th centuries. According to historians such as Olivier Pétré-Grenouilleau, some 12 million Africans were shipped to the plantations of the southern United States, as well as the British, French, and Dutch West Indies and to the Spanish and Portuguese empires while the UN puts the figure at 15 million.
 
The success of the slave trade was made possible by a chain of ‘slavery professionals’, from African kings who specialized in selling off their prisoners of war, via European slave-traders, to the plantation owners on the other side of the Atlantic.
 
Over the same period, some 17 million Africans were shipped eastwards, becoming slaves in the Arab countries and within the Ottoman empire, with another 14 million became the property of other Africans.

No end to slavery: how plantation syndrome hampers development
One special feature of the transatlantic slave trade was that it led to the cultivation, on a vast scale, of what can be considered the first global foodstuffs. Over and above this, though, it led to the development of models of production and commerce that have continued to have economic and social repercussions on entire nations, long after the slave trade was officially abolished by Britain in the 19th century.
 
What could be called ‘plantation syndrome’ has condemned a number of countries in the south of the world to persist with cultivating a single crop, thereby hindering the development of harmonious economic growth. Prime examples can be found in the Caribbean and in Latin America.

Women, slaves three times over
This year’s International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade is dedicated to women, to those who have been reduced to slavery, as well as those who have fought for its abolition. Estimates show that one-third of all slaves transported across the Atlantic were female. As such, they were threefold victims of slavery. Not just being forced to work against their will, and being victims of racial prejudice, they also suffered gender discrimination. And yet, it is above all, thanks to these women that African culture was transmitted to the new generations, those who were born free.
 

The Expo of Ideas, the first stage for the Charter of Milan: the commitment to healthy and safe food for all begins here

Sustainability / -

Maurizio Martina per la Carta di Milano di Expo Milano 2015

Saturday, February 7 will be a day of listening to, and discussion of, the big global questions on food: Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life. Access to food is one of the final frontiers in the fight for equality and justice, and for peace and cooperation between people. We must all rise to this challenge.

Saturday, February 7, at the Expo of Ideas, sees the launch of the process that will lead to the establishment of the Charter of Milan. With not long to go until the opening of the Universal Exposition, promoted by Italy and held in Milan, we are organizing a day of listening and discussion, that, taking its cue from the theme of Expo Milano 2015 itself: 'Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life', will focus on the big global questions relating to food. How can we ensure a healthy, safe and sufficient supply of food for an ever-growing population? How can we innovate production, agricultural and food processes and make them more sustainable? How can we safeguard biodiversity as a key asset? How can we overcome the great contradictions of our time, starting with the hunger/obesity paradox, the fight against food waste, and the protection of common resources, such as water and land?
 
Over 40 thematic groups
It will be an intense working day, the first of its kind. Over 40 thematic groups in which over 500 experts will participate. They will be tasked with looking at all the exhibition themes, and divided into the following four areas: future development, the balance between equity and sustainability; the culture of food, providing energy to live in harmony; agriculture, food and health for a sustainable future; moving towards a more humane city: the smart and slow city.
 
This will allow us to collect analyses and proposals that will be useful in drafting the Charter of Milan: an act of commitment that Italy will propose to the world via Expo Milano 2015. The Charter will be signed by citizens, institutions, businesses and associations, and defines commitments for each of them. The Charter will then be delivered to the UN Secretary-General during his visit to Milan on October 16. It will be our contribution to international dialogue on the next Millennium Development Goals, which will be defined by the United Nations towards the end of the year.
 
Expo of Ideas
Expo of Ideas will demonstrate the work that Italy wants to carry out on what will be seen at Expo Milano 2015, showing that there’s a great deal more to the Expo than just worksites and pavilions – even if these are fundamental. Expo Milano 2015 will be, first and foremost, an important platform for dialogue and exchange among people, cultures, and experiences around the globe. Participating will be member states, non-governmental organizations (for the first time in the history of the universal expositions), businesses and even schools, as well as individuals, universities, and associations, making it a unique opportunity for all of us.
 
The Contributors
On Saturday February 7, the Expo of Ideas will also welcome a number of invaluable contributors. Among these are Ermanno Olmi, Carlin Petrini, Ignazio Lula da Silva, Federica Mogherini and Prime Minister of Italy, Matteo Renzi. And we are especially honored that Pope Francis has chosen to send us his own message.
 
'Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life' reminds us of the great battle for the right to food. It is, and will be, more and more, a crucial geopolitical theme, one of the final frontiers in the fight for equality and justice, and for peace and cooperation between people. We must rise to this challenge.
The 'Expo of Ideas' will help us to show that, at the heart of this exhibition, is the most important message that we can give.
 
 

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