Sustainability is a concept which is made up of several different but intrinsically connected aspects: the environmental, the social, the economic and the cultural aspects. It is these different faces of the prism that make this concept innovative, thus getting away from the classical antinomy between campaigners for the protection of the environment and those favoring economic development understood merely as a quantitative growth figure.
Pollution, deforestation, desertification and climate change are serious threats to feeding the world in the future. The global development model has caused such rapid and unlimited intensive exploitation of resources that as a consequence many ecological balances have been upset. Intensive agriculture is the cause of a large proportion of worldwide CO2 emissions. The loss of fertility of the land, the advance of deserts, the drastic depletion of fish stocks in both rivers and oceans and climate change bring humankind face to face with very complex dilemmas. Green areas are currently disappearing at the rate of about 13 million hectares per year. In forty years, marine species have reduced in number by 39 percent, the most widely sold (such as tuna and cod) by 74 percent. More and more scientists are convinced of the risks deriving from climate chaos. All these issues are piling up and casting a shadow on the future of mankind and his food.
All countries were invited to Expo Milano 2015 to have their say on access to food while respecting the environment and the world’s ecological equilibrium, and each company which displayed its products illustrated its industrial policies to ensure that their supply chains are sustainable. What is needed first of all is an agricultural sector which is interested and aware of events and which at the same time can play a vital role in protecting and enhancing the environment and the territory and making it a better place to live. Family-level agriculture, preservation of traditional production methods through local companies and reconversion to ecologically sound practices go hand in hand with research for new materials, recycling to combat waste, new apps and awareness-raising campaigns. If, as the 7,000 meetings held at the Expo site have us understand, sustainability becomes a stimulus to find innovative solutions to develop agriculture in arid zones or on vertical walls, using resources better, combating waste and inequalities, injecting new life into territories and communities, it will also become an essential requisite for the elimination of world hunger and granting respite to a nearly exhausted planet.
An event centering on the issue of Respecting the Planet had necessarily to incorporate these principles into its basic rules. A number of targets have been reached, from the construction sector to the certification of the sustainability of the event, to the outstanding percentage of differentiated trash collection at the Exhibition Site.