The Road Towards New Forms Of Diplomacy: The Power Of Food To Heal Human Relationships
When the values of the Mediterranean Diet meet with care for human beings and sound diplomatic commitment, magic can happen, regardless of delicate and dramatic contexts.
That is exactly what has occurred over the past few days in Pollica. The perfect example and manifestation of the concept of integral ecology, where together with the Mayor of the Municipality of Pollica, Stefano Pisani, Founder of Mygrants, Chris Richmond Nzi, and I, representing the Future Food Institute, have signed an official declaration of intent to provide a safe place to live, train, and work for Ukrainian refugees.
Starting from the most basic and humble of resources — food — the project aims to lift some of the heavy burdens from these displaced families and provide them with the resources they need for a fresh, and peaceful start.
We have always believed in the healing power of food.
Food is at first an act of love and abundance that Nature continues to offer to humankind.
Food is an act of care because it takes time and experience, coming from the hands of respectful farmers.
Food is a universal language that is able to unite people regardless of any geographical, cultural, or religious background.
Food is the most powerful answer to war and oppression by giving the world back comfort, healing, and attention.
The Laboratory of Peace
Building a Lab of Peace, located in Pollica, does not only mean welcoming the fleeing refugees of Ukraine into the small villages of Cilento. It goes beyond the mere intention to offer them a safe place to live and stay, to create the basis for inclusion and individual, social, environmental, cultural, and economic regeneration.
An Assistance Desk will provide psychological and legal assistance to refugees that arrive, clearly with devastating trauma.
Families will be welcomed and listened to, they will have the chance to “live the community” through conviviality and the possibility to cultivate a vegetable garden, to confront a plural and international community, but also to acquire skills that may offer them job opportunities in the future. In fact, Ukrainian youth and women (Aurora Fellows training) will have the chance to experience firsthand the Mediterranean cultural heritage by undertaking training programs in the Mediterranean cultural, agricultural, catering, and food processing fields. Thanks to the partnership with Dot Academy, Ukrainian refugees will be trained both in digital transformation and also trainers, putting in their own skills and expertise. These are professionals, and specialized figures who have been taken away from their daily work routines. The intention is to re-employ them within the digital academy and in this way to be able to offer refugees training in the Ukrainian language. Spazio78 will be the space that will host the courses.
In this sense, humanitarian support can intertwine with the redevelopment needs of the local community suffering from depopulation while fostering exchange of knowledge to offer win-win solutions.
This has been possible thanks to the prompt activism and response of local stakeholders and heroes of the Mediterranean Diet, such as Rareche Mercato Rurale Naturale, and Coop. Agricola Nuovo Cilento — “Al Frantoio” that offers their unique expertise in the field of regenerative agriculture to heal human relationships.
But it has also been possible, thanks to the outstanding diplomatic work that happened behind the scenes, which involved the Ukrainian public relations regional coordinator of the Commissioner for Human Rights Maria Novitska, the President of the Ukrainian-Italian Chamber of Commerce, Dr. Massimo Ferrara, European, Italian, and local organizational representatives as part of a program organized by the Italian Women Union (Stati Generali Delle Donne) led by Isa Maggi and Future Food Institute, spearheaded by our phenomenal Claudia Laricchia, Head of Institutional Relations Department.
Together, we will coordinate the mission to Italy of the Ukrainian politician and former Minister of Labor and Social Policy, elected Commissioner for Human Rights, Lyudmyla Denisova, to build the bridge of peace with a specific focus on the convocation of a Peace Conference activating concrete measures to support Ukrainian women, especially women entrepreneurs; female entrepreneurship; young talents; innovation; and integral ecology.
“Institutional Relations and Global Strategic Partnerships are a crucial element to feed the ecosystem and strengthen the impact of our efforts for sustainable development.
We believe that Goal 17 of the Agenda 2030, “partnerships for the goals,” is one of the most important goals. Through alliances among organizations we share values with, we can achieve important results for a better future.” — Claudia Laricchia
Food diplomacy, gl-ocal diplomacy
The real question is not if diplomacy is needed, but which diplomacy is needed to face today’s challenges.” — Marco Alberti, Ambassador of Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.
It is in front of everyone’s eyes that the continuous fragmentations and attacks on our system cannot be solved exclusively from a top-down approach. Solutions need to be adapted to the specificities of local contexts, to the needs of its peoples, and to the peculiarities of the natural, cultural and territorial heritage.
And it is particularly evident when talking about diplomacy. The role of cities, rural villages, small islands, and inland areas are playing a crucial role in the national and international scenarios, symbols of complementarity between local and global solutions that can be summarized with the rising relevance of the diplomacy of the cities.
Institutional relationships are at first relationships between humans and require grassroots forms of diplomacy, the core to build inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable cities as required by SDG 11. Diplomacy of the cities is then a sign of a new form of diplomacy spreading from the bottom, where individuals actually have a voice, where local communities return to real relationships in the squares, where collective intelligence is used to address common prosperity, where peace can be fostered through food and daily acts of care.
This is the new diplomacy that we desperately need now more than ever: a kind of diplomacy rooted in the ethics of service and human values, in the listening and valorization of human relationships and natural preservation. This is what can drive sustainability and integral regeneration at any level. And food can be central to achieving this aim.
If it is true that “Homo Economicus is Dead” as Antoinette Weibel and Otti Vogt shared, the new “Homo Cooperativus” is the only one that can build the miracle of peace.
After all, one can wage war alone, but peace can be long-lasting only if weaved together, every single day.
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).