Berlin – Combining sustainability and agriculture

Berlin – Combining sustainability and agriculture

June 07, 2019

Berlin – Combining sustainability and agriculture

On the occasion of the European Sustainable Development Week, the Italian Embassy in Berlin hosted a conference organized in collaboration with the Barilla Foundation to discuss the Mediterranean diet, sustainability and research


On June 6, together with the Barilla Foundation, the Italian Embassy in Berlin hosted an event dedicated to food and sustainability entitled “Fixing Food: how the Mediterranean Diet can improve People’s and Planet’s health”.

According to the World Health Organization, a correctly balanced diet must be rich in fruit, vegetables, cereals (preferably wholegrain), legumes and extra virgin olive oil, and should include moderate amounts of fish, white meat and dairy products, and very moderate amounts of sweet products and red meat. 

Mediterranean countries, such as Italy, are favored since their climate has allowed them to develop a nutrition model that is now recognized by UNESCO and included in its List of Intangible Cultural Heritage: the Mediterranean diet, which closely follows the guidelines of the WHO. However, new markets and lifestyles have led to a gradual shifting away from the Mediterranean diet, with considerable impacts on sustainability, the environment and health. These include an increase in the number of obese or overweight people and a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. 

A simple yet powerful idea

We are proud to be involved in the European Sustainable Development Week, an initiative that aims to implement activities and projects for a more sustainable future,” said Paolo Barilla, Vice-President of the Barilla Group. “We firmly believe in the power of cooperation, in Europe and worldwide.” As Paolo Barilla recalls, this belief led to the founding of the Barilla Foundation: “The Barilla Foundation has helped us realize that the food system has a significant impact on two critical aspects: people’s health and the planet’s health. It is a simple idea, but it has strong implications. And ever since it was conceived, it has inspired our way of doing business, which is Good for People, Good for the Planet.”

Irene Mia, Global Editorial Director of the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), highlighted the importance of the Food Sustainability Index (FSI), which is the result of the cooperation between the Barilla Foundation and the EIU. For political leaders and organizations, the Food Sustainability Index is a useful means of supporting the development of food solutions in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. It collects data from 67 countries around the world to highlight the best practices with regard to sustainability and the aspects where action is needed in order to reduce food paradoxes, that is the scarcity of food resources in a world where problems linked to poor nutrition and obesity are on the rise. Irene Mia provided an overview of the Food Sustainability Index by focusing first of all on the results achieved by the EU-28 and then moving on to the Mediterranean region, thus connecting it to the Mediterranean diet as a way of addressing food challenges for the sake of sustainability.

Riccardo Valentini, Director of the Climate Impact Division at the Euro-Mediterranean Centre on Climate Change, also pointed out that the Mediterranean diet is the most suitable way of promoting proper eating habits with a positive impact on both nutrition and the environment. “The Su-Eatable Life project, implemented by the Barilla Foundation together with several European partners and with the support of the European Commission’s LIFE research program, aims to demonstrate how adopting a sustainable diet in company and university canteens can help reduce CO2 emissions and water consumption with a positive impact on the environment,” concluded the expert.


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