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Mediterranean Diet connects people at Expo 2020 Dubai

Within the striking Italian Pavilion of Dubai’s Expo 2020, lauded by the Wall Street Journal for its ‘Beauty connects people’ exhibition with a reimagined version of Michaelangelo’s David, we had the honor of hosting the forum Mediterranean Diet — People, Planet, Prosperity.

This incredible event represented the fruits of a purpose-driven collaboration between the Future Food Institute, the Study Center of the Mediterranean Diet “Angelo Vassalo” of the Municipality of Pollica, and the CLAN National Agri-food Cluster.

Mediterranean Diet — People, Planet, Prosperity. Expo 2020 Dubai.

Paolo Bonaretti from CLAN the Italian Agri-food Cluster stressed the constant commitment of the Italian Agrifood ecosystem that involves universities, research centers, and large companies in supporting the advancement of technological innovation, capable of making our food supply chains more sustainable so that the Mediterranean Diet can be spread and passed on as a model capable of generating health and prosperity.

Stefano Pisani — Mayor of Pollica UNESCO Mediterranean Diet Emblematic Community

In concert with Pollica’s Mayor, Mr. Stefano Pisani, this collaborative event gave voice to the UNESCO Mediterranean Diet Emblematic CommunitiesAgros (Cyprus), Brač and Hvar (Croatia), Koroni (Greece), Pollica Cilento (Italy), Chefchaouen (Morocco), Tavira (Portugal) and Soria (Spain) — and emphasized the values that underpin this important cultural heritage.

We were honored to be joined by:

Maurizio Martina — the Deputy Secretary-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Maurizio Martina, the Deputy Secretary-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) who stressed the urgency to change consumption paradigms towards sustainable models.

Maria do Céu Antunes - Portuguese Minister of Agriculture

Maria do Céu Antunes, the Portuguese Minister of Agriculture who shared her country’s commitment to spreading the principles of the Mediterranean Diet as a healthy model for the future of humanity and the planet.

Andrea Carapellese — UNIDO ITPO Italy

Andrea Carapellese of UNIDO ITPO Italy who stressed the importance of facilitating public-private partnerships and accelerating Mediterranean Diet innovation in agricultural technology to support Mediterranean supply chains by presenting our Food Coalition involving Iraq, Tunisia, Morocco, and a super network of Mediterranean innovation ecosystems from Greece, Italy, and Spain.

Vicky Inglezou of the Maniatakeion Foundation who now coordinates the Emblematic Communities’ network, and for years has represented the community of Koróni, Messinia, Greece with great dedication and passion.

Elisabetta Moro of the Suor Orsola Benincasa University who, as usual, helped us understand the powerful soft power of the Mediterranean Diet and the cultural and historical importance of “convivium.”

Andrea Bariselli of Strobilo, a health and climate-tech company that uses advanced neuroscience techniques in combination with AI to study the relationship between Human Beings and Planet Earth. With his example of the Med Mind Lab, he helped us understand the importance of our connection with both the land and the health of our ecosystem to reach a true people-planet balance.

Ramon Estruch, representing FDMed the Mediterranean Diet Foundation of Barcelona, who highlighted the role of the Mediterranean Diet within the context of global health.

Nicola Caputo, the Regional Minister of Agriculture from Campania Region — Angelo Riccaboni, President of Prima Foundation

Nicola Caputo, the Regional Minister of Agriculture from Campania Region, spoke about understanding that investing today to support the Mediterranean agricultural supply chains is not just a matter of economic recovery and short-term growth, but is a development strategy that can bring profound, long-term impact.

With Angelo Riccaboni, President of Prima Foundation we have discovered Europe’s strategic imperative to accelerate innovation towards the transformation of Mediterranean Food Systems towards sustainable models.

Chabrel G. Terraf and Henda Mahmoud — ICBA, Dubai

Chabrel G. Terraf and Henda Mahmoudi from the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture discussed the need for innovation and skills to be put in common factor building opportunities for enhanced capacity development and knowledge transfer.

Benedetto Zacchiroli ICCAR (UNESCO)

Benedetto Zacchiroli, president of ICCAR made us fall in love with the idea of a Mediterranean without borders, where diversity is the real common and shared wealth, a Mediterranean that unites and creates beauty for the world. Sustainability, inclusion, and systemic thinking are the tasks at hand. Talk only about Climate Change is no longer sufficient. We must now foster a Climate OF Change.

This meaningful and engaging event culminated in a joint announcement with Mayor Stefano Pisani, that we have decided to offer four scholarships for two Emirati students and 2 volunteers of the Italy Expo 2020 for participation in our award-winning Food and Climate Shapers Boot Camp — Mediterranean Edition. This innovative, experiential training program provides career-ready skills and knowledge for changemakers to positively affect food systems in their local communities.

When we first discussed the idea for this event, we could not have imagined how truly inspirational and informative it would become. We are indebted to our panelists for their time, expertise, and passion and look forward to nourishing the seeds of transformation that were planted on this stage.

Starting from food and from what food conveys, the Mediterranean has the power to connect: connect people with nature, connect local traditions with the international agenda, connect nutrition with landscape, the past with the future, agriculture with science, and diplomacy with prosperity. The Mediterranean Diet is therefore a model of cooperation, collective wellness (or the now famous concept of One Health Approach) and a real-life example of Integral Ecological Regeneration.

With all these elements in mind and aligned to the Italian Pavilion topic in Dubai Expo 2020, Beauty connects people, the forum wanted to unveil dormant beauties, by connecting the experiences of local emblematic communities of the Mediterranean Diet with high-level diplomats, scientists, researchers, policy-makers, and UN Agencies to build bridges of multilateral cooperation, for a more resilient, more participatory, more sustainable and more inclusive future.

Plurality is the key in achieving this important goal, similar to the urgency of embracing a new ecosystemic mindset.

Let’s go beyond silos, let’s build a nexus between community, economy, and the environment. Let’s connect the dots of the complexities that, from agri-food systems, cross over all the dimensions of life, from production to consumption. Let’s connect the potential of the Mediterranean Diet with the expertise and advancement of the United Arab Emirates and innovative research centers.




Future Food is an ecosystem of innovators committed to generating a global positive impact by empowering the ever growing community of young entrepreneurs, farmers and food innovators with disruptive ideas, and supporting corps and institutions on their path to open innovation.

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