22 May 2019
The International Forum "Strategies for More Sustainable Food Systems in the Mediterranean" was held from May 15 to 17 in Palermo, Italy. Initiated and managed by the CIHEAM Bari and the Forum on Mediterranean Food Cultures, this important event has been granted the organisational and logistic support of many institutions including the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Forestry and Tourism, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Sicilian Region, the City of Palermo, IFMed (International Foundation of the Mediterranean Diet) and the technical support of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
The three-day conference included 18 sessions on health, environment, culture, socio-economic and public policy topics, as well as institutional plenary sessions for which the President, the Secretary-General, the Directors and experts of the four Institutes of the CIHEAM (Bari, Chania, Montpellier and Zaragoza) were mobilized.
Representatives of intergovernmental organisations including the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), UNESCO and the Center for Mediterranean Integration of the World Bank (CMI), diplomatic delegations, representatives of Mediterranean cities, high-level experts, civil society representatives and private sector actors were invited to share their experiences and discuss the best strategies to adopt for food systems that take into account the major challenges to overcome.
Indeed, if unfortunately, hunger remains a current issue, there are other additional nutrition problems. Today more than 2 billion people in the world are overweight and suffer from micronutrient deficiency. Food systems are not sufficiently providing people with quality food and nutrients for a healthy life. This is a serious public health issue.
Moreover, our production and consumption systems have negative environmental and ecological impacts that weigh heavily on territories (pollution, overexploitation of resources and waste) and on the food and nutritional security of future generations.
Finally, on the one hand, our globalised food systems are no longer able to generate shared growth that benefits local artisans and small producers and, on the other hand, they threaten cultural heritage and food traditions that are precious for community life.
At the end of this Forum, the FAO, the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and the CIHEAM announced the launch of a multi-actors platform for sustainable food systems in the Mediterranean built on the expertise of the CIHEAM Bari and its network.
Open to institutional partners, civil society actors and the private sector, it will be aimed (1) to deepen knowledge and pool expertise (2) to develop and jointly support training and training activities and actions on the ground (3) to bring these issues at the centre of national, regional the Mediterranean and international debates.
A white paper, the terms of reference of which will be jointly defined, will be prepared to propose the first elements of an action plan for sustainable, responsible and inclusive food systems. A foresight exercise may also be envisaged to make this white paper a tool for decision-making and to help prioritise actions and investment in this area.
During the Palermo Forum, two sessions organized by the Italian authorities were dedicated to the blue economy, the green economy and the circular economy in preparation of the "Summit of the Two Shores, Mediterranean Forum" initiated by the President of France Emmanuel Macron.