3 Jun 2016


This World Environment Day (5th June), the BCFN Foundation will present the recommendations of internationally renowned scientists and experts who have rethought our food paradigms to defend our health and that of the planet.
The aim is to find new systems to feed a global population of 9 billion by 2050, to limit greenhouse gas concentrations and keep global warming below 1.5°C.
The final Manifesto will be presented on the 30th November and the 1st December at the 7th BCFN Forum.

Rome 03/06/2016 – Concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are the highest in 800 million years, and we currently face an unprecedented acceleration in terms of environmental impact. Agriculture alone may be contributing to this situation by up to 30% (it uses about 70% of world water resources and 30% of energy resources). When we consider that from now until 2050, the planet will have to feed 9 billion people, it’s clear to see that we need a shift in paradigm: we need a new approach to food and agriculture. To tackle this challenge, on the 22nd April in Rome – World Earth Day and the day the agreements reached at COP21 were signed in New York – the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition (BCFN) organised the first Stakeholder Forum of its International Observatory on Sustainable Agriculture, entitled 'Climate @ Risk & Food @ Risk'. 12 internationally renowned experts, representing farmers, the academic world, investors, non-governmental organisations and the agri-food industry, came together to devise scenarios, identify possible solutions and stimulate the debate on the Objectives of Sustainable Development, particularly for the agri-food sector. The first step was to set out a “call to action”, a document that will, in a symbolic gesture, be presented on World Environment Day (5th June). The aim is to gather the scientific community and the whole of civil society around this document, which clearly lays out the criticisms and new paradigms that will form the foundation of the steps we need to take if we are to make farming increasingly sustainable. The final result will be a manifesto presented during the panel on Sustainable Agriculture at the 7th BCFN Forum on the 30th November and the 1st December at Bocconi University, Milan.

The idea behind this initiative,” explains Paolo Barilla, Vice President of the BCFN Foundation, “is to launch a “call to action”, the first step in a public consultation on the topics of agriculture, food and climate change. We’re asking all players in the agri-food chain to work together to transform society through new rules and paradigms, new solutions, new business models and a new awareness. Unfortunately, at this time, with our food choices and our lifestyles, we are quite literally “eating our planet”. The challenge we face over the next years is this: to walk and work side-by-side such as to make agriculture increasingly sustainable and adopt an approach to food and diet that is not only good for our health, but also good for the planet.

The global agri-food system currently produces much more food than is needed to feed the entire global population; and yet food insecurity is suffered in the biggest regions in the world, such as Africa and Asia, resulting in what we call the “paradoxes” in our food system. The evolution of global food habits has resulted in the increased consumption of meat products, the production chain with the greatest impact on global warming. We need to promote varied, nutritional and sustainable diets in both developed and developing countries. If we are not able to reinvent our agri-food system and consumption habits, problems relating to access to food will increase, given that by 2050 we will need to feed 9 billion people, 80% of whom will live in cities. Humanity has to act together and act quickly.

The scenario we face is wide and complex: 2015 was the hottest year since 1850, the drought that hit the Middle East in 2012 was the worst in 900 years and an increase of global temperatures above 2°C, which now seems likely, will have a severe impact on food production in areas facing serious geo-political difficulties, such as the majority of Africa and the nearby Middle East. Farmers, industry, politicians and citizens will therefore have to make an effort to prepare society for these changes. But what has to be done to feed the growing world population, mitigate the pressure on natural resources, increase resilience and stabilise climate change while preventing temperatures from rising by more than 1.5°C?

Agriculture and food will certainly play a considerable role in this scenario of change and the development agenda post-2015. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), approved in September 2015, and the Paris Agreement on climate, reached in December 2015, are evidence of how we’re doing at an international level. It does, however, remain to be seen just how these intentions will be passed on to national players (both public and private), which are widely responsible for the application of the global agreement. Regional powers, such as the European Union, come into this picture to assist and coordinate national commitments.

The experts gathered by the BCFN Foundation have identified 5 shifts in paradigm civil society is invited to debate and use as a basis for new actions.

1. Reconcile agriculture and the food system. The production of agricultural products must once again be considered a fundamental part of the food system, and be completely integrated into the value creation chain.

2. Integrate the real cost of food in business models. Nowadays the price of food does not reflect real costs: the positive and negative impact on society, health and the environment must also be taken into consideration.

3. Increase food production in urban and peri-urban areas. This involves setting aside spaces for agriculture in cities such as to favour access to quality food and nutrition even in the poorest areas and preserve the cultural importance of traditional foods.

4. Include agriculture in strategies to mitigate and reduce climate change. If suitable strategies and technologies are adopted, agriculture is capable to both mitigate climate change and protect us from its effects. What’s more, the soil contains more carbon than plants and the atmosphere together, making it a resource that must be protected and used in the most efficient way possible.

5. Accelerate the complete transition to agro-ecology and a circular economy. We need to make food systems sustainable both in terms of production and the use of natural resources through the prevention, recycling and reuse of waste and losses in the agriculture sector.

To implement this shift in paradigm, organisational and technological changes need to take place. We need a consistent legislative structure, both at the EU and national level, we need financial incentives (e.g. investments in public research), and we need to concentrate on the implementation of solutions which can then be applied on a wider scale.
It’s also imperative to take action to educate consumers. We risk forgetting half the problem – and half the solution – if we only approach the problem from the production side. Consumers must be involved in sharing knowledge and raising awareness. The guidelines for a nutritional diet must become guidelines for a nutritional and sustainable diet by sharing information about the environmental impact of different foods. Food education must become part of school curricula to introduce new behavioural standards with regards food on the part of consumers from early childhood.

Caterina Grossi, Media Relations Manager, caterina.grossi@barillacfn.com, +39 0521 2621

Simone Silvi, Senior Account Media Relations, s.silvi@inc-comunicazione.it, +39 335.10.97.279
Francesca Riccardi, Media Relations Consultant, f.riccardi@inc-comunicazione.it, +39 335.72.51.741

The Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Foundation (BCFN Foundation) is a think tank created in 2009 in order to analyse the key issues connected to food and nutrition around the world. By adopting a multi-disciplinary approach, economic, scientific, social and environmental factors are studied in terms of their effects on the food system. The President and Vice President of the BCFN Foundation are Guido and Paolo Barilla, while the board of directors is made up of, among others, Carlo Petrini, the President of Slow Food and Paolo De Castro, who ch3airs the committee on agriculture and rural development at the European Parliament. The Advisory Board oversees the work of the BCFN Foundation. For more information: www.barillacfn.com; www.protocollodimilano.it

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