10 Oct 2018

NOURISHING THE CHILDREN OF TOMORROW BY CHANGING THEIR NUTRITIONAL EDUCATION TODAY

BCFN – Ministry of Education, University and Research: a three-year program designed to promote global citizenship and innovation through close dialog with teachers

• For World Food Day, the Barilla Foundation reveals  some of the findings of the Food Sustainability Index: praise for the Italian commitment to curb the spread of obesity, especially among the youngest members of the population (36.8% of under-19s are overweight)

• In 2017 Italians lived  4,011 years less also due to incorrect nutritional choices

• The Barilla Foundation, in partnership with the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), presents its roadmap for rethinking our dietary systems in a sustainable key and for achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. 

• This and other themes related to food will be among the topics discussed during the 9th International Forum on Food and Nutrition organized by BCFN (Milan, November 27-28). 




In 2017, the Italian population saw its life decrease by a total of 4,011 years, due to disabilities caused by nutritional deficiencies, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases (in 2016 the same figure had been 3,941 years)1. How is this possible in the home of the Mediterranean Diet?  The answer lies in the change in dietary habits which has led Italians to move away from this food model, especially the younger generations.  The data therefore paints a clear picture of the consequences of this phenomenon: in Italy 36.8% of children and teenagers between the ages of 5 and 19 are overweight, a figure that rises to over 58% of the total in the adult population2. Excess weight and obesity, like incorrect dietary choices, can contribute to the spread of several illnesses (especially diabetes, some forms of cancer and cardiovascular problems) known to put our quality of life at risk and even to cause early death. Yet, according to the third edition of the Food Sustainability Index (to be presented on November 28-29 at the International Forum on Food and Nutrition of BCFN in Milan), Italy is trying to curb this “nutritional transition”, by deploying a number of programs in school canteens, aiming to focus on portion sizes, the quality of the ingredients used, and on following recognized nutritional standards for the meals served. And the agreement between the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Foundation and the Italian Ministry for Education, Universities and Research (MIUR), presented during the run-up to World Food Day on October 16th, is also geared precisely towards raising awareness among students and teachers regarding the importance of our dietary choices. 

Never before has there been such a need for a food revolution that can make food the focus of our way of thinking. From New York, together with the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), we launched a roadmap for transforming current agro-food systems and food models into sustainable elements. And to achieve this goal, we decided to look at how we train the leaders of tomorrow. Thanks to our partnership with the MIUR, we created the Digital Education initiative “Noi, il Cibo, il nostro Pianeta”, which aims to educate new global citizens by way of an innovative digital program centered round the role of food and the effects that its production and consumption have on the environment, health, society and even the phenomenon of migration. We will be discussing this issue at the International Forum on Food and Nutrition to be held at Hangar Bicocca”, explained Anna Ruggerini, Operations Director of the BCFN Foundation.

Through its roadmap, BCFN is committed to raising awareness and promoting actions in favor of sustainable diets, developing sustainable models in agriculture, industry, in the cities and communities, promoting research and scientific analyses to monitor the progress achieved by all the countries and launching an educational system capable of training the leaders of the future. The educational project, which aims to train teachers of primary schools, as well as middle and secondary schools, becomes the first step forward towards achieving this objective. It is a holistic project that uses multimedia and innovative instruments capable of supporting the teacher during lessons, and helping students adopt a critical approach to the topic and so play an active role in promoting important social changes that favor sustainability in relation to food.

The multimedia program, available on the website www.noiilciboilpianeta.it, is divided into four modules and is based on one assumption: food is the element that unites the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established by the United Nations. Indeed, we know that following a correct diet has a positive effect on our health, but it could also reduce the emissions of CO2 into the atmosphere by 750 kg per year (the same quantity of CO2 generated by a car with a medium engine capacity when making a return trip from Milan to Moscow3). Or again, considering only the emissions of greenhouse gas of European families, food is the element that makes the largest contribution to climate change, with 31% of the total, topping heating (23.6%) and transportation (18.5%)4


US, OUR FOOD AND OUR PLANET: 4 INNOVATIVE MODULES FOR TRAINING THE GLOBAL CITIZENS OF TOMORROW

MODULE 1: FOR YOUNGER KIDS, THE FAIRYTALES OF GUNTER PAULI ABOUT AGROFOOD SUSTAINABILITY 

The project for the youngest members of our society uses the fairytale, a tool which has always proved practical in helping educators from all over the world who wish to express complicated concepts using simple words. The fairytale book focusing on the themes of agro-food sustainability written by Gunter Pauli, father of the “blue economy,” is the ideal classroom aid for helping the youngest generations become aware of urgent, current themes such as climate change. 

MODULES 2 AND 3: INTERACTIVE ACTIVITIES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE AGED 8-18 

For young people from 8 to 18 years old, two interactive modules will soon be available. Secondary school pupils will have access to the course “Sustainable food – Open Mind”, a teaching tool capable of raising awareness about the dynamics that link food and the environment, the dietary needs of the global population and the solutions that lead to new balances. Instead “Focus Unit” will be available for students of between 13 and 18 years old. This is a digital unit that aims to raise the awareness of young people about the themes of sustainability and the SDGs.

MODULE 4: A MOOC FOR TRAINING GLOBAL CITIZENS AND WORKERS OF THE FUTURE 

“Us, our Food and our Planet” also offers university students and professionals a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) developed by BCFN with the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network of the Mediterranean (UN SDSN Med) and SDG Academy entitled: “Sustainable  Food Systems: a Mediterranean perspective”. “This MOOC was created to enhance the current educational offering with a “dynamic format” capable of scientifically teaching young people about the importance of working across disciplines, which is indispensable for learning more about the world of food and its sustainability, in ecological, humanistic and economic terms. The module dedicated to the new professional skills requested by the agro-food sector, will also teach that the employment scene of the future will integrate sustainability into the current production models, such as, for example, the Food Designer, the innovator broker in agriculture or the sustainable travel agent. 

1  These are the first findings of the new edition of the Food Sustainability Index, created by the Barilla Foundation with The Economist Intelligence Unit

2 These are the first findings of the new edition of the Food Sustainability Index, created by the Barilla Foundation with The Economist Intelligence Unit


3  BCFN calculations based on Jordbruksverket data, 2013

4  BCFN calculations based on Tukker A., B. Jansen, “Environmental Impacts of Products”, Journal of Industrial Ecology, 10, 3, 2006.


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