Food and sustainability

A declaration of love for the planet

Since 1970, the 22nd of April each year has been celebrated as World Earth Day, the biggest global environment movement and an occasion to talk about the environment and encourage its protection through numerous initiatives.

A billion citizens and over 22,000 associations in 192 United Nations countries will take part in Earth Day, an event originally promoted by US president John Fitzgerald Kennedy which today represents a means of reminding everyone of the importance of safeguarding the environment. Over the years the movement has evolved and expanded, constantly gathering new initiatives, to the point of becoming a high-visibility informational and educational platform for the discussion of environmental protection and action to save the planet.

From Paris to the whole world
In December 2015 the Paris Climate Agreement was approved, the result of discussions between representatives from 195 countries around the world, with the primary objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and slowing global warming, which is recognised as a major threat to the health of the planet. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asked world leaders to sign up to the deal, and it is no coincidence that the date chosen for the signing is the 22nd April, Earth Day. A date which should not remain isolated, but should be part of an ongoing commitment. “We need to prove that what happened in Paris last December was not all talk. We need to take action. Signing the Paris Agreement this Earth Day is just the beginning,”, says Kathleen Rogers, president of Earth Day Network, adding: “That, coupled with our global activities, will make this the largest, most significant Earth Day in years. And it’s the perfect start in our countdown to Earth Day 2020, our 50th!

Let’s plant! Billions of trees for the Earth
Trees for the planet, in other words the planting of 7.8 billion trees, one for every inhabitant in the world. This is the theme chosen for 2016, and the first of five ambitious goals set by Earth Day Network to be achieved by 2020, when Earth Day will celebrate its 50th anniversary. The choice of tree-planting is no accident, as this initiative - like the other four measures planned before 2020 - will have a significant and measurable impact on the Earth and will lay the foundations for a planet which is cleaner and more sustainable for all. Very few facts are needed to justify this theme. Trees help to combat climate change by absorbing harmful excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere; they help us to breathe cleaner air, absorbing contaminating odours and gases (such as sulphur and nitrogen oxides) and act as a filter to retain harmful particles present in the air; they help communities to build a sustainable future, provide food and energy and can become a source of income.

Big changes come from small actions
Climate change and environmental protection are not issues that can - or should - only be addressed by heads of state and governments: each one of us can do our part, beginning with our own surroundings. “Changing the world starts by changing your own little corner of the world”, as an Earth Day slogan tells us. And to help those who really want to act for the good of the planet, the experts at Earth Day Network have also developed a Toolkit, a series of more or less practical tools and possible ideas for turning a love for the environment into concrete action and lending a hand to the cause. A few examples: educational schemes involving students and teachers with the aim of explaining the importance of having clean air and water, and what action we can take in order to move towards a sustainable world; official requests to governments for greater commitment to the environment, perhaps beginning with the signing of the Paris Agreement. But there are also many other smaller, but equally important, initiatives to raise awareness: the sharing of messages on social media, nature walks or runs, markets of local product and much more.

The same direction is taken by the activities of BCFN (Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition), which are aimed at institutions and stakeholders as much as at individuals, with the goal of encouraging a growing sense of personal responsibility. These include schemes ranging from the Milan Protocol to the Youth Manifesto and advice on how to practise sustainability in our daily lives.

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