(fa fede solo il testo effettivamente pronunciato)
It is an honour and a pleasure to take part in this discussion, focused on the co-operation between the UN System as a whole and Expo Milan 2015.
I certainly do not need to explain to you, of all people, the relevance of the theme we have chosen for EXPO 2015: Feeding the Planet, Energy for life. At the dawn of the third Millennium, one human being out eight still suffers hunger and malnutrition in a world that is rich in food and natural resources. Although progresses have undoubtedly been made, the target of “Zero Hunger” set by the United Nations is not yet within reach. It is the paradox of our times: some 900 million people worldwide are estimated to be undernourished, while as many as the same amount are suffering from the results of hyper-nutrition.
The most recent data released by FAO tell us that food loss and food waste sum up a total amount of US $ 680 billions in industrialized countries, and US $ 310 billions in developing countries. One third of all food produced for human consumption is thus needlessly wasted. The problem, therefore, is not that of producing more food, but being able to ensure universal access to food at affordable prices. The right to food is, more than anything else, a fundamental human right.
Addressing this challenge is first and foremost an ethical imperative, but it is also essential from the point of view of global stability and security. Scarcity, hunger and unequal distribution of wealth are among the main causes of political volatility and social unrest in developing countries; they are at the roots, together with armed conflicts, of the massive migration flows that are a distinctive feature of our times. The tragedy of Lampedusa is a sad reminder that Europe – and Italy in particular – , bordering on a vast area of instability, are the first to be affected.
“Feeding the Planet”, however, means more than fighting hunger and waste. Humankind is the only species that is capable of altering nature to its advantage or – far too often – to its disadvantage. Massive population increases, blind exploitation of water and natural resources and environmental degradation threaten the capacity of the planet to sustain an ever-growing demand for food and put at risk the fertility of the soil. The choices that we make today, therefore, will have a massive impact on the well-being and the livelihood of future generations.
Expo Milan 2015 shall involve the global leaders in a public debate on these crucial issues: the fight against hunger, sustainable development, food security, health, food as instrument of cultural expression etc. It will provide a comprehensive platform for discussion and as a showcase for industrial innovation.
We’re investing in designing and implementing a new concept of World Expo: light-touch, green, sustainable, forward-looking and attractive to visitors. We conceived innovative participation models, we’re committed to ensure sustainability at all levels and we’re implementing a collaborative and early engagement approach with the Participating countries and International Organizations.
We believe that the success of Expo 2015 will not rely on the variety of the pavilions nor on the architecture of its buildings: it will depend on our capacity to set a new way forward in approaching these challenges: global access to nutrition, food traceability, sustainable use of land and water resources.
Expo Milan 2015 won’t be presenting innovative “products”, as this has been the case in World Expos so far. We will rather try to elaborate “projects” and “ideas” in order to address the issues of food security and sustainable development, through innovative solutions, coming from international public and private partners.
136 Countries and International Organizations (the UN, of course, the EU and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN)) have already confirmed their participation in Expo Milan 2015. Corporate partners are joining, to take this unique opportunity to showcase their innovation potential to more than 20 million visitors. The promotional campaign implemented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through our diplomatic network is coming to an end.
I would like to underline the continuity of the Italian approach on these issues. The Italian G8 Presidency initiated the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative, which led to the adoption of the “Rome Principles” on sustainable food security.
Italy will then be consistent in proposing Expo Milan as an opportunity to exchange best practices on global sustainability in the area of food security and nutrition.
As I said, these issues are well known. What will be innovative are the tools we’re conceiving, in order to work on concrete solutions:
o we intend to promote new partnerships between the public and private sectors, working on effective pilot projects even on a small scale;
o we conceived an innovative participation model, through “Clusters” regrouping under a similar thematic and architectural project a number of Countries, focuses on a strong, representative and shared theme, mainly based on agricultural commodities (Rice, Cocoa, Coffee, Cereals, Spices, Fruits and Legumes). Through clusters, we’ll involve producing and consuming countries in a debate on how to adjust the imbalances of the supply and distribution chains within each specific sector.
o Innovation also in the relationship with enterprises and global corporations, pushing them to take advantage of EXPO in order to show visitors their growth potential.
Within this framework, last October 4th in Turin, Minister Bonino launched an innovative project to enhance the role of women on the effective global access to nutrition: “Women for EXPO”. Women will have a very special role in the EXPO 2015. The food security issue is closely related to the role of women: they are the first source of nourishment and face major challenges regarding nutrition and food access. The involvement of women will be a key element to properly develop this theme and we are working to include “women” in the mainstream of the EXPO.
To accomplish this goal, last May we set up the Women inDiplomacy Committee at the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and since then we have been working on ideas to promote women’s role in society, their empowerment, their access to international careers.
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs will be involved in the organization of events and specific programs, such as The “Women in Diplomacy School” (open to the participation of women across our neighbouring Mediterranean countries and the Gulf).
Furthermore, with the help of an International Board, we are planning thematic and geographical events:
o 1. WE and Nutrition on 13th and 14th. It will be the first meeting of the International Board. This will be the occasion to launch the debate on concrete ideas and activities to carry out from now until 2015. On November 14th we will have an Italian side event here at FAO during the preparatory meetings of the II International Conference on Nutrition. We are expecting a very interesting debate focused on the role of women in delivering nutrition security through their engagement in the agriculture and food system. Furthermore, it will analyze the implications for improving diets and raising levels of nutrition by recognizing and supporting women’s role in agriculture and food systems and strengthening their decision-making power for delivering on nutrition security.
o 2. WE and Latin America: planned on December 11th in Rome, at the presence of important personalities active on these issue;
o For 2014, we are organizing thematic and geographical workshops: WE and Africa; WE and ASIA (side event at the EU-ASEM Summit in October 2014).
All these initiatives will lead to 2015. Last Friday in Turin we had an outstanding debate with the Women Commissioners of the pavilions. Minister Bonino asked them to “feed ideas” for 2015. We want to create a “women path” between the countries’ pavilions, that will guide visitors to specific “women spaces” set up in each one. The guided path will end up in the Italian Pavilion where visitors will be called to sign a “Women Charter”: a Charter for the future. It will be a list of the essential ten measures which should be implemented to empower women. Our aim is to presented it to the United Nations in 2015.
It goes without saying that we rely on the UN system’s participation to EXPO. We cannot underestimate the added value that the UN system’s participation to EXPO has for Italy, home to the third biggest UN pole: the food and agriculture pole.
As you all know, 2015 will coincide with the target year of the Millennium Development Goals. Expo Milan shall be taken as a potential platform to elaborate and to communicate the “Post 2015 Development Agenda”.
In this context, we expect that the UN system will sign the contract with EXPO, on November 14th: date of the Italian event at the II prep International Conference on Nutrition here at FAO’s headquarters.
We look forward to your active contribution.