Beyond the crisis: Focus on food as if it were a new Marshall Plan….
In a recent article, Paul Polman, Chair of the Food and Land Use Coalition, makes a compelling case for climate action as if it were a new “Marshall Plan for the Planet”, with food as a central theme.
“We urgently need to repurpose agricultural subsidies to deliver better outcomes for people, climate and nature. In addition, we must shift public food procurement toward plant-based diets and away from highly processed foods, deploy more productive and regenerative agricultural practices, support rural livelihoods, and commit to ambitious targets for reducing food loss and waste. Given that 25 per cent of global CO2 emissions are linked to land use, we should not underestimate the contribution that transforming food systems can make in the fight against climate change.” — Paul Polman
In days of political uncertainty, we must not lose our compass from what is now the most important issue for the World: a good recovery. And there is no recovery that doesn’t come through food.
In Italy, the Recovery Plan has identified three strategic axes, six missions, 16 components, and 47 lines of action. The architecture of the version of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan has, at last, been defined. We, in each of those categories, always read the word “FOOD” The agri-food sector, technically included in mission two (green revolution and ecological transition) as (sustainable agriculture and circular economy), is actually transversal to all the commitments. “FOOD” is at the center of our lives and of this plan, and it’s essential that it continues to be so because you can’t talk about recovery and resilience if you don’t talk about food and one of the most essential sectors — we realized this especially during the pandemic — acutely for Italy, from an economic, social, cultural, environmental, and relational point of view.
Let’s not forget that right now this strategic plan meets the Italian presidency of the G20 and the important international appointments that await us for pre-COP26 and COP26. Let’s not forget that we are the country of food, recognized throughout the world for the immense agri-food heritage that we are able to express, for the culture, for the biodiversity and, because headquartered in Rome are the United Nations’ agencies FAO, IFAD, and WFP that deal with humanitarian assistance, development, resilience, as well as knowledge and funding concerning food, agriculture, nutrition, and rural development. All of this is already part of our DNA, we don’t have to invent more.
The strategic axes of the plan are digitalization, innovation, ecological transition, and social inclusion. These axes will guide the next investments, the next interventions, and ultimately the future of the next generations. The agri-food sector is the one that most of all needs to make a major leap in innovation, in our country. Precision agriculture, internet of things applied to the agri-food chain, optimization, through technology, of the use of natural resources, increasingly scarce, application of predictive models in the field, artificial intelligence, are just some examples. Competitiveness and sustainability resound in unison when we talk about digitization and innovation of agri-food systems, as well as when we talk about open innovation and the ecosystem of startups that in this sector in Italy are expressing great value.
This will require strong investment in training as well, so that no one is left behind by this revolution that is already underway. It is this combination that leads to the concept of ecological transition, which represents the foundations of the Italy (and the Planet) of the future. After all, we don’t have many alternatives. Either we choose this path or ecosystems will implode in an overheated and polluted Planet, creating a devastating domino effect for human health and survival.
But environmental sustainability cannot be achieved without social sustainability. And so it is that the third leg of the strategic axes of the plan speaks of social inclusion: inclusive growth, social and territorial cohesion, structural reduction of asymmetries and inequalities, between geographical areas and between people is an essential prerequisite for sustainable development and inequalities between urban and rural areas will now have the opportunity to end.
The priorities are therefore clear, they do not always speak explicitly of food, but we see it as central. The considerable investments allocated by the Plan for each of the missions will be a breath of fresh air for a country currently wounded, and are also a clear direction towards which we must all push together so that these wounds do not leave too deep scars. To do this, the recipe calls for a transformation in our approach to development models, and in this transformation let us bring our identity. Because food is our passport to the future.
The Future Food Institute believes climate change is at the end of your fork. By harnessing the power of our global ecosystem of partners, innovators, researchers, educators, and entrepreneurs, FFI aims to sustainably improve life on Earth through transformation of global food systems.
We advocate and initiate positive change initiatives in Food Waste & Circular Systems, Cities of The Future, Water Safety & Security, Climate, Earth Regeneration, Mediterranean Foodscape, Nutrition for All, and Humana Communitas, all tied in with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
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