During the course of the ceremony to announce the results of the Call for Best Practices for Sustainable Development, an initiative launched by Expo Milano 2015 to bring together and give visibility to the projects related to food security in the Mediterranean, we interviewed Giampaolo Cantini, the Director General for Development Cooperation at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, to gain a better understanding of the Feeding Knowledge program and the future of the related Best Practices.
Considering the wide range of best practices that we have collected and presented via the Feeding Knowledge Call, it’s clear that improving food and agricultural production is key to Italian Cooperation. Our operations in the countries taking part in Expo focus on improving and managing production chains – durum wheat in Ethiopia and coffee in Latin America, for example. We address aspects such as marketing and sustainability, as well as the rediscovery and use of traditional production methods specific to certain areas – such as quinoa in the Andean countries. Other initiatives promote the sustainable use of resources such as soil and water, while other projects support the development of a cooperative model that combines support to the small producer while providing more efficient systems for granting access to credit and management.
The first is that 805 million people worldwide suffer from chronic malnutrition. It's a figure that reminds the international community of the need to persevere in its efforts to eliminate hunger. Some encouragement can come from my second figure:100 million people have managed to escape this situation over the last decade. This means that, in addition to the knowledge, tools and, potentially, the resources, the conditions are in place to achieve "Zero Hunger". People need to understand the importance of this challenge and to support the political commitment to overcome it. My third figure concerns food loss and wastage. One-third of the food produced each year is lost post-harvest due to the lack of appropriate technologies, infrastructure or access to markets; more food is then wasted during distribution and consumption. All that, while demand for food in the world continues to grow. Therefore, we need action on two levels. First, we need to develop knowledge on supply chain management, we need to enhance infrastructure and adopt appropriate policies. The second involves building awareness among people – especially the younger generations – of our individual responsibility as a consumer and as part of a global system, and the opportunity that we have, via our choices, to influence the development and the future of the Planet. These are the main messages that, by means of the Expo, can reach millions of people. It is also on these issues that the Italian Cooperation will work as part of the exhibition.
I believe it lies in consolidating and further developing the wealth of experience, partnerships and relationships built up over the years, as well as establishing a virtual focal point on knowledge of food security and sustainable development in the Mediterranean area. This "Mediterranean laboratory", would continue to encourage the sharing of knowledge, research and innovation, as well as the adoption of the most effective solutions to common problems.