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Peace: The Foundation of Sustainable Development

Among the five Ps included in the Preamble of the 2030 Agenda, three have gained particular attention in recent years:

People: promoting equality, human dignity, equity, and universal human rights that continue to face dangerous obstacles with poverty and malnutrition;

Planet: ending the ongoing environmental degradation, putting into practice urgent and concrete actions against climate change, enhancing (not eroding) the natural heritage we have at our disposal;

Prosperity: supporting forms of collective prosperity that balance the economic, social, technological, environmental, individual, and collective dimensions.

Yet, to promote sustainable development in its most integral sense, it is crucial to embrace and balance all five Ps, this also includes partnership and peace.

“There can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development,” clearly stresses the Agenda 2030. This means that promoting peaceful, just, and inclusive societies, free from fear and violence and able to ensure fundamental freedoms should be a global priority, ******as described in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16.

Given the scenarios in Ukraine that we are all following and witnessing with apprehension, these words have become visceral, making us understand how much conflicts distance the global society from sustainable development.

Conflicts: Violent Accelerators of Hunger And Environmental Degradation

The evidence of the direct correlation between armed conflicts and environmental degradation is clear by simply recalling that the United Nations have dedicated an International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict every 6th November.

In fact, the war in Vietnam and the massive usage of herbicides and defoliants (Agent Orange) on Vietnamese, the civil war in Congo with its advance of deforestation, the war in Colombia with the development of unregulated gold mining and illegal extraction of natural resources are just some examples of the environmental costs associated with conflicts (from the preparation stage to their post-effects).

Militarization of the territory, cementification of wild areas, production and usage of weapons all contribute to the loss of fertile soil, emissions of GHGs, contamination of natural resources, loss of arable land, states the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Conflicts accelerate environmental degradation but the reverse relationship is also true. Inefficient management of natural resources can drive conflicts, especially when “agricultural lands are less available or less productive, when countries are more dependent on natural resources, or when drought is prevalent”, highlights the IUCN report.

In this sense, it is easy to understand how intricate the correlation is between conflicts, climate change, environment, and hunger.

Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan, and Yemen, victims of advancing desertification, heavily hit by conflicts to the point that the United Nations has issued warnings of violence escalation, are also amongst the most concerning “hunger hotspots” recently recognized by the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). These are areas where “acute food insecurity is likely to deteriorate further” including **having “parts of populations identified or projected to experience starvation and death.”

But also the situation in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Honduras, the Sudan and the Syrian Arab Republic still remain concerning in terms of food security. The State of Food Security and Nutrition report, the Global Report on Food Crisis, and the Hunger Hotspot report, all warn that wars, conflicts, or organized violence are key drivers of food security on a global scale, while extreme weather events and climate alterations remain significant causes of hunger hotspots and malnutrition. Given the massive increase in frequency and intensity of these collective phenomena, environmental peacebuilding is needed more than ever, to foster conservation and sustainable management of natural resources to build and preserve peace, basic human rights, economic stability, and environmental protection.

From Ukraine To All Over The World: A War That May Reshape The Global Market

The war in Ukraine unfolding over the past weeks cannot leave anyone indifferent, from any point of view.

The scale of the humanitarian tragedy is evident in the thousands of people forced to abandon their cities and homes, losing everything they have to escape. It is a mass displacement that began in 2014, following the annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea by the Russian Federation, which reached a peak of “at least one million newly displaced people” in early March, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre. In a short period of time, this number can increase sixfold, data reveals, with clear consequences for neighbor states to accommodate, manage, and ensure basic services to such a plurality of individuals.

The environment is also not exempted from the magnitude of this conflict. Fires within the Black Sea Biosphere Reserve, the most extended protected area in Ukraine, is at risk of nuclear disaster, “military operations in a heavily industrialized, densely populated nation containing numerous refineries, chemical plants, and metallurgical facilities (which) further compounds the threat of these hostilities for Ukraine’s people and their environment, both now and for years to come,” are only some of the reasons included in the open letter signed by more than 900 environmental lawyers and peacebuilding experts, concerned about the environmental disaster associated with the war.

In addition to the local effects, the current geopolitical situation in Ukraine is already and will continue to heavily shake the equilibrium of the whole global market.

This is the price for a conflict involving not just two countries near to the EU, but two global trade leaders: wheat, non-GMO maize, sunflower oil, and barley, from Ukraine, which has been recognized by FAO for having “some of the most fertile soils in the world;” and grain, fertilizers, raw materials (such as gas and oil) from Russia and Belarus.

The result is apparent: the skyrocketing prices of basic food intensifies tensions around global food security; the rationing of corn and maize — at the heart of animal-feed activities — is hindering breeders and farmers, the soaring energy prices affect the cost of petrol, that in turn disrupts supply chains and logistics — especially for those countries relying on road transportation.

From agri-food companies to smallholders, from the EU to low-income, food-deficit countries, the entire global society will be affected by the range of the conflict, as has recently warned the [FAO Director-General QU Dongyu](https://www.fao.org/director-general/news/news-article/en/c/1476480.).

And all this is happening in the most crucial food production time of year — spring.

Turning Diplomacy Into The Art of Wisdom

Diplomacy has alway been conceived as the art of mitigating conflicts and fostering mutual cooperation. Today, more than ever, we need this art in support of common well-being and collective prosperity, to ensure democratic access to resources and to create the basis for integral ecological regeneration.

Instead, along with the difficulties triggered by the pandemic, to the advancement of malnutrition and food insecurity, and to the race against time to meet climate goals and combat environmental degradation, additional challenges now complicate the global landscape. New keywords such as food and energy self-sufficiency are threatening political and diplomatic agendas to abrupt alterations, with coal power plants and the fossil fuel industry ready to be supported again regardless of the Glasgow Declaration principles.

This is because food diplomacy cannot be conceived in isolation but is woven into climate diplomacy, water diplomacy, energy diplomacy, and even new emerging trends such as hydrogen diplomacy.

New skills and talents are then required of today’s modern diplomats: flexibility in action and mindset, creativity, transparency, long-term vision, integrity, gl-ocal approaches, to adequately balance the needs of the planet and its people, at the international, regional, and local levels.

If we stop to think about it, at the foundation of every form of life there are common rules and values from which diplomacy should start again. It should not be a s surprise, then, if transparent institutions, inclusive, participatory, and representative decisions, and reduction of all forms of violence are pillars included both within SDG 16, to maintain peaceful and inclusive societies, and in the conservation and sustainable management of natural resources.

Diplomacy is now asked to put more wisdom into action, intended as the art of achieving a common good. This means finding a balance and equilibrium between different interests and timeframes, understanding the intricacies of complexity. It cannot be achieved in isolation or through a siloed approach.

Partnership: The Power of Collective Effort

Only through a mutual collaboration based on a spirit of global solidarity is it possible to promote lasting peace and, in cascade, all its derivative conditions: environmental health, access to food and natural resources, robust ecosystem services, economic prosperity, collective and individual well-being — including mental well-being.

After all, increasing studies and research focusing on biophilia and collective unconsciousness are now clearly identifying the direct relationship between individual mental health, psychic health of society, and state of natural environment. From this entangled bond, we have the chance to put into action win-win solutions for all: people, planet, prosperity, and peace, if we only decide to act together, by sharing knowledge, expertise, technology, and financial resources. Unity is strength.

This is particularly true given the challenges the global agri-food systems are facing today: ensuring food security and nutrition for all, supporting human sustenance, boosting equality and resilience, advancing mitigation and adaptation to climate change which, even before all the disruption happening today, requires a collective effort.

This has been the vision behind the two editions of the Food for Earth Digital Marathon, a 24-hour digital event, organized by Future Food Institute (and the outstanding commitment of our Institutional Relations and Global Strategic Partnerships Departmentand) and FAO on the occasion of Earth Day. Like an ideal Olympic torch, we traveled from East to West around the globe collecting lessons and good practices, sharing experiences and knowledge on the regenerative power of food systems to inspire and accelerate the pace towards an integral approach to ecology.

The Earth Day marathon involved young activists, scientists, Nobel-prize award nominees, chefs, farmers, startups, journalists, leaders, policymakers, UN delegates, diplomats from every corner of the world to build a collective and sound voice towards sustainable (better regenerative) models to be applied to the agri-food system.

“There is not a single recipe to deal with this multidimensional situation but it’s more important than ever to join efforts,” highlighted Berioska Morrison, Alternate Representative, Permanent Mission of the Dominican Republic to the Rome-based United Nations Agencies, during one of the Marathon sessions.

And it is precisely this impetus towards a sense of humanity and collaboration that, in these particularly difficult times in Ukraine, continues to show the power of acting together towards the common good. From Cook For Ukraine to Bake for Ukraine, from the Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund created by Save the Children to the emergency operation from the U.N. World Food Programme, these initiatives all affirm that togetherness is able to solve any challenge.

This is what we need to keep in mind to solve our current challenges. Going back to a dimension where People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, and Partnership are harmonized and balanced. We still can “make decisions based on hope and possibility. Make decisions based on what should happen, not what shouldn’t,” as Michelle Obama perfectly highlighted.

The Future Food Institute is an international social enterprise and the cornerstone of the Future Food Ecosystem, a collection of research labs, partnerships, initiatives, platforms, networks, entrepreneurial projects and academic programs, aiming to build a more equitable world, grounded in integral ecological regeneration, through enlightening a world-class breed of innovators, boosting entrepreneurial potential, and improving agri-food expertise and tradition.

Future food advocates for positive change through initiatives in Waste & Circular Systems, Water Safety & Security, Climate, Earth Regeneration, Mediterranean Foodscape, Nutrition for All, Humana Communitas, and Cities of the Future as we catalyze progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Learn more at www.futurefoodinsitute.org, join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or YouTube. Or attend a program through the FutureFood.Academy!



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sara roversi

sara roversi

Don’t care to market-care to matter! With @ffoodinstitute from @paideiacampus towards #Pollica2050 through #IntegralEcology #ProsperityThinking #SystemicDesign