Milan Expo 2015: Six Months to Define a New Food Agenda

From by Ilaria Ricotti
Milan Expo 2015: Six Months to Define a New Food Agenda

May 1 marked the beginning of the Milan Expo, the 2015 universal exposition. For the next six months, the Expo—and its exhibitors, visitors, and events—will focus on the innovative tools, theories, and dialogues surrounding the fair’s unique theme: “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.”

In fact, for the first time in the Expo’s history, nutrition and sustainable food will be at the center of the debate: its stated goal is “being able to guarantee healthy, safe and sufficient food for everyone, while respecting the planet and its equilibrium.” The Expo will also concentrate on narrowing the gap between the undernourished and oversupplied parts of the world. Participating countries will pursue these ambitious goals through national efforts at the Expo, several collateral events scheduled during the six months of the Expo’s duration, and the Milan Charter.

The Milan Charter will draw attention throughout Expo. Participant countries signed the Charter—the product of pre-exposition research and debate, requested by the Italian government—which parcels responsibilities relating to conservation and sustainable practices to its signatories. Visitors to the Expo, as well as businesses and the general public, may also sign the Charter. Intended as the Milan Expo’s true global legacy, the agreement’s goal is to ensure universal access to safe and healthy food. Ban ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, will receive the final version.

The Expo’s site covers an area of 1 million square meters on two main thoroughfares, Cardo and Decumano. Of the 145 nations are participating in the Expo, 53 constructed their own pavilions; while this is not the first time countries have built their own pavilions for a world’s fair, Milan Expo’s pavilions have a special meaning. Countries that erect their own “houses” must respect strict rules, which include the use of sustainable and recyclable materials, low-impact energy practices, and the inclusion of outdoor space. The pavilions’ purpose is to demonstrate the best that every country has to offer, with special focus on innovative solutions to nutrition and food problems. For example, the Swiss pavilion gives visitors free food, but only until the country finishes the amount brought to the Expo. Special measures such as this may raise awareness and fight food waste.

In addition to these particular pavilions, countries may participate in specific information clusters, dedicated elements of nutrition categorized as either “supply chain” or “theme.” Supply chain clusters cover the use and development of specific foods, from cereals to spices, while the theme clusters take on geographic or climate zones and their role in food production.

While the pavilions are only one of the many projects developed to create a more sustainable way of eating inside the Expo, several events will take place outside the exhibition site. For six months, scholars and opinion leaders will gather in Milan to discuss a wide range of food-related issues, turning Italy into the focal point of international debate on sustainable foodways. Among the projects launched through the Expo, Feeding Knowledge and Best Sustainable Development Practices for Food Security will highlight the debate on guaranteeing food security worldwide, and host a competition for best sustainable development practice. WE-Women for Expo will produce initiatives, such as a female-led business competition, that view food, nutrition, and sustainability through the lens of women providers. The project has also published a “global narrative” on this perspective. On May 18 and 19, Milan will host the Global Alliance for the Future of Food’s International Dialogue, a conference focused on sustainable food and agriculture systems that features representatives from some of the world’s most prominent foundations.

To see more of events taking place during the Milan Expo, please click here.

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