Five Questions With Barilla’s Director of Communications & External Relations Luca Virginio

Five Questions With Barilla’s Director of Communications & External Relations Luca Virginio

Food Tank, in partnership with The George Washington University, is hosting the 1st Annual Food Tank Summit in Washington D.C. on January 21-22, 2015. 

This two-day event will feature more than 75 different speakers from the food and agriculture field. Researchers, farmers, chefs, policy makers, government officials, and students will come together for panels on topics including food waste, urban agriculture, family farmers, farm workers, and more.

Food Tank recently had the opportunity to speak with Luca Virginio, Executive Director of Communications and External Relations at Barilla, who will be speaking at the summit.

Food Tank (FT): What will your message be at the Food Tank Summit?

Luca Virginio (LV): The Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (BCFN) Foundation will introduce the Milan Charter, an ambitious global food deal that will be presented at the Universal Expo in Milan this year. The Milan Charter is the policy document the Italian government is elaborating with the contribution of institutions, academia, civil society and the private sector to promote responsible actions towards a more sustainable global food system. The final version will be handed over to the Secretary General of the United Nations during the World Food Day next October 16 in Milan as the legacy of Expo 2015, featuring the theme “Feeding the Planet, energy for life.”

The Milan Charter originates from various initiatives taking into account the different perspectives of a broken food system and aiming at promoting guidelines and solutions for the future of our Planet. The BCFN has played a leading role in the Milan Charter, analyzing the major paradoxes on food and nutrition since its foundation in 2009 and elaborating four years later the Milan Protocol, a policy document offering commitments and solutions to solve those paradoxes. Since presenting the Milan Protocol at the end of 2013, the BCFN has worked hard to ensure that almost 100 organizations, institutions and private companies sign up to it.  We are proud to announce that the Milan Protocol will contribute as a key content to the development of the Milan Charter.

FT: How are you contributing to building a better food system?

LV: Since 2009 our Foundation has worked to ensure that the urgent issues related to food and nutrition become priorities in the agendas of opinion leaders and decision makers across the world. We consider ourselves as a research center and an information resource that can act as a bridge between both science and research as well as political decisions and governmental action. We promote multidisciplinary open debates, dialogues and annual fora, innovative research programs with the contribution of an international network of experts and dissemination of results. We are committed to creating an open dialogue. We develop and make available recommendations on food and nutrition, in order to help improve life and the overall wellbeing of all people.

FT: What are the biggest obstacles or challenges you face in achieving your organization's goals?

LV: In working to build momentum for the Milan Protocol, which will form the basis of the Milan Charter, we encountered several challenges in getting institutions and the private sector to sign up. It’s an ambitious document that touches several interests, but we’re confident that it can be done. It’s not going to be easy to get certain countries to limit the use of land for biofuel production; or to get financial institutions to accept strict limits on financial speculation; or to have certain companies slash food waste. But if we all work together—each [of us] doing [our] little part—it can be done!

FT: Who is your food hero and why?

LV: It would be too hard to pick one single person, company or organization. We believe the food heroes are all the young researchers and activists who are working hard to build a better food system—and there are many out there! That’s why we launched the BCFN YES! (Young Earth Solutions) contest in 2012, to give a voice—and resources—to all the young efforts out there to build a better food system.

FT: In 140 characters or less what is the most important thing we can all do to help change the food system.

LV: Sign up to the Milan Charter for EXPO 2015, a global deal to fix our broken food system. It’s time to take action, now!

The event is SOLD OUT, but interested participants can sign up for the live-stream HERE. Or JOIN US for dinner and a reception to celebrate Food Tank's two-year anniversary on January 21st at 5:30pm EST. This event will also sell out fast, REGISTER NOW.