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Feeding the Planet is possible. It takes political resolve

Innovation / -

On Tuesday September 16 a press conference was organized at the Centro Congressi della Fondazione Cariplo during the first meeting of the International Selection Committee of Best Practices chiared by HSH Prince Alberto II of Monaco.
© Daniele Mascolo / Expo 2015

Speech by Prince Albert II of Monaco at the convention for the presentation of the Competition for Best Practices launched by Expo Milano 2015.

The message that I wish to share with you today is both personal and close to my heart. Let me explain in just a few words why I responded so positively and enthusiastically to the invitation from our Italian friends to preside over the jury that will select the best project in this competition.
 
The Universal Expositions, since they were founded at the end of the 19th century, have continued to be a means of assuring the general public an understanding of the effects of technical progress on our daily life and the potential transformations it can bring. It is in this spirit that my great-grandfather, Prince Albert I decided that Monaco would participate in the very first Universal Exposition.

The direction that he set for us continues to be a point of reference, even if today the methods of sharing knowledge have become very wide-ranging.

It is still as important today as it was then to generate awareness around the benefits of scientific and technical development, as well as their inherent risks.

In this regard, the theme of "Feeding the Planet" espoused by the Exposition in Milan in 2015 seems particularly relevant, and is without doubt, an inescapable responsibility of statesmanship.

The question is to know how – how to feed the Planet – which may well be connected to effective, but short-term processes. That said, we must look beyond how, and examine the more onerous task of identifying the best course of action so that future generations do not suffer for the decisions we make today.

But we are all aware of one thing: constant population growth exacerbates our pursuit of efficient, healthy agricultural and food policies for the benefit of the greatest number of people.

Therefore, it is my firm conviction that it in this area, as in others, we must think in terms of sustainable development.
 
The Final Declaration of the Rio +20 Summit makes it clear, setting down key principles for sustainable agriculture that does not deplete natural resources but instead, protects and nurtures them, benefitting those who will populate this Planet after us.

Improving food security and eliminating hunger are feasible goals, provided there is clear, robust political resolve across the world.

And knowing which best practices we should encourage for a food production that is truly "enduring" is no less important.

So it is with this in mind that we must rally our efforts in research and innovation. We have already acquired skills and know-how, but we must now perfect them and bring them together to serve the greatest number of people, objectively and without bias.

The Feeding Knowledge Program resolutely follows this line and it is in this spirit that the Jury I will chair will examine the projects set before them.

Expo Milano 2015 will give a big media presence to this initiative, which is by no means theoretical. Indeed we want to identify specific projects that, in the next few years, will bring benefits to the most disadvantaged populations. It is for these populations, first and foremost, that the work of the Feeding Knowledge Program attains meaning and value.
 
It is a point that I particularly wished to emphasize on this occasion. Thank you.
 
 

June 5 is World Environment Day and this year UNEP is celebrating it at Expo Milano 2015

Sustainability / -

Ambiente Onu
© Pacifica/Corbis

June 5 is World Environment Day, established by the United Nations in 1972. Its purpose is to preserve the environmental wealth of the Earth with this year’s focus on the responsible consumption of the planet’s resources.

Seven billion dreams, as many as the inhabitants of the only planet we have: the Earth. "7 billion dreams. One Planet. Consume with care" is the theme of World Environment Day 2015, celebrated every June 5 since 1972 when it was established by the General Assembly of the United Nations to commemorate the first major international summit dedicated to the preservation of the environment. It was, the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, held in the Swedish capital 43 years ago, that gave way to the United Nations Program for the Environment, UNEP.
 
 
Italy hosts the official celebrations
This year the main celebrations are taking place at Expo Milano 2015 where the first ever Universal Exposition dedicated to nutrition is currently taking place. An exposition in which the United Nations plays a key role with the theme: "The Zero Hunger Challenge. United for a sustainable world". This year UNEP and its Director Achim Steiner have placed the attention  on consumption. In fact, we consume much more in the way of resources than the Earth actually provides, seriously endangering the sustainability of the planet.
 
It’s an important day for the Expo and one that has been received with enthusiasm by the Minister of the Environment, Gian Luca Galletti: "We have a unique opportunity this year to benefit from an exceptional setting, one that is truly global and multi-dimensional, which can stimulate reflection and new actions on these issues, also in view of some crucial decisions to be taken in the coming months. Important decisions are being made, such as the launch of the United Nations Post-2015 Development Agenda in September, and the new climate agreement in December."
 
Consume less, consume better
In the world there are still 795 million people who suffer from hunger according to the latest figures released by the FAO report: The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015. Despite this, 1.3 billion tons of food go uneaten every year due to waste. These are numbers that are unacceptable according to Steiner who said that he was working with the FAO in order to reach the "Zero Hunger" goal by the next generation.
 
Present for the celebrations on June 5, in addition to Steiner and Galletti, will be the Director-General José Graziano da Silva and UNEP Goodwill Ambassador, Yaya Touré. An ambassador since 2013, the Ivorian soccer player is currently playing for Manchester City. His main objective to increase awareness in the international community on the issue of poaching that is decimating the population of African elephants, as well as his nation’s invaluable environmental heritage. It is not a coincidence that the national football team of the Ivory Coast are also known as the "Elephants".
 

Five questions for Cipsi. Amaranth returns to the forefront in Argentina

Innovation / -

Coltivazione di Amaranto in Argentina

The project, aimed at rejuvenating ancient cultivation has had so much positive feedback that the initiative will soon begin in various African countries. The international network of 28 NGOs, which are fully active in international co-operation and solidarity, answer our questions on the project they are promoting.

At Expo Milano 2015, visitors will be made aware of the Cipsi project thanks to the photo-story displayed in Pavilon Zero. What message would you like to convey with your approach to the issue of food security?
The Earth has enough food to feed everyone, but due to the greed of just a few people, this is not currently possible. This project, aimed at improving children’s and women’s nutrition through the cultivation of amaranth at family and local levels, shows that various elements are necessary in order to achieve food security. One of these elements is: democracy, so looking after biodiversity and defending the interests of farmers, individual families and those that, without expecting anything in return, put food on the table for daily survival.

What difficulties have you encountered while working on your project?
Things that made getting started and putting things into motion difficult were: the population’s lack of education and professional training and the political and social fragmentation, with a rate of inflation that has exceeded 30 percent. The results were only achieved thanks to the patient work of the Italian and local staff in directly involving families, schools, mothers and children. The public buildings, such as the hospital and the prison, have been turned into the territory’s reference points.

What new results have you achieved?
The results exceeded all initial expectations: 84 agricultural technicians trained; 49 demonstration areas at the hospital in schools, at small agricultural producers and in 36 families; 133 seminars with 3,638 attendees; six species of amaranth under cultivation; 90 hectares of agricultural land; 15 small agricultural producers; a processing plant; a training centre; more than 2,300 alumni growing amaranth and using it in school canteens; enrolment in the National Register (Renspa) of the National Food Safety and Quality Service (Senesa).

What are the next steps?
Studies made on the economic viability of amaranth cultivation show a very high percentage of possible revenues that would radically change the lives of thousands of families, women and malnourished children at risk of starvation. We are therefore looking for entrepreneurs and investors interested in improving crops, expanding arable land, strengthening amaranth processing factories, developing training and investing in new projects in other countries.

Do you intend to replicate the project in other countries or in other contexts?
The ease with which amaranth can be cultivated, coupled with its high nutritional value means that this project can be a strong solution to the nutritional requirements of many countries, above all for children, disadvantaged people and others who are at risk of starvation. We started testing out new projects in Ethiopia, Mozambique and other African countries. There may be interest from Italy as well.
 

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