- Led by the Government of Italy, in collaboration with the UfM and PRIMA, a session on the Mediterranean Diet and its lessons for the world, was held on 24 July in Rome, in the framework of the UN Food Systems Summit +2 Stocktaking Moment.
- On its margins, UfM Secretary General Nasser Kamel participated as well in the high-level 4th Annual Summit of the European Corporate Council on Africa and the Middle East (ECAM).
24 July 2023, Rome – The UN Food Systems Summit +2 Stocktaking Moment took place in Rome, Italy from 24 to 26 July 2023, at the premises of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), by Italy, in collaboration with the Rome-based UN Agencies (FAO, IFAD, WFP), the UN Food Systems Coordination Hub and the wider UN system.
This conference aimed at building on the momentum of the 2021 Food Systems Summit and creating a conducive space for countries to review progress on the commitments to action and identify successes, enduring bottlenecks and priorities in order to close the implementation gap. It was also the opportunity to further socialize the powerful role of sustainable, equitable, healthy and resilient food systems as critical SDG accelerators and advocate for urgent action at scale, building on the latest evidence that sustainable food systems contribute to better and more sustainable outcomes for people, planet and prosperity leaving no one behind.
In this framework, under the leadership of Italy and with the support of the UfM and PRIMA, a session on “Healthy Diets, Cultures and Tradition: Lessons from the Mediterranean Diet” was held on Monday 24 July 2023. Indeed, as the Mediterranean Diet owns several peculiar principles, including the close collaboration of business innovations around the principles of circular economy, engagement with academics in the generation of rigorous evidence for health and environmental impacts, local food policies (including zero mile markets) capable of triggering a process of cultural, social, and economic regeneration that puts food at its core, this session aimed to valorize these lessons and explore ways in which these principles can foster the maintenance of other traditional diets: enhancement of local agro-industry and food traditions through the promotion and sharing of good practices that maintain the link between territory and local community, preservation of traditional diets and lifestyles, including rural markets based on proximity and biodiversity, World Farmers Markets Coalition, food policy pacts, among others. To this purpose, FAO, with support from Italy, will launch an observatory dedicated to sharing knowledge, experiences, tools and materials related to the Mediterranean diet.
Secretary General Kamel stated: “Diets are doors to our lives and livelihoods, to our identities and our health. It is difficult to overestimate the importance they hold for our societies, our economies, and our environment. In the case of the Mediterranean Diet, it is not only a shared UNESCO intangible heritage, but also a tool for implementing the Sustainable Development Goals in our region, and combat the most pressing challenges we face. Therefore, it needs to be seen in a holistic way.”
The Union for the Mediterranean is part, since its inception, of an interinstitutional platform for Sustainable Food System in the Mediterranean, a multi-stakeholder initiative co-led by FAO, CIHEAM, the UfM and PRIMA as an affiliated project of the One Planet Network’s SFS Programme. The Platform is a space for strengthening knowledge sharing and capacity building, and a catalyst for regional cooperation.
The UfM Secretary General took the opportunity to exchange with several key partners, notably HE Ms. Frida Krifca, Minister of Agriculture of Albania and new President of CIHEAM, Amb. Stefano Gatti, Special Envoy for Food Security of the Italian Government, Prof. Angelo Riccaboni, co-chair of PRIMA, as well as representatives of FAO.
In the margins of this international conference, the UfM Secretary General was also invited to take part in the 4th Annual Summit of the European Corporate Council on Africa and the Middle East (ECAM), held by the European House/Ambrosetti Forum on the same day in Rome. This year’s edition of the ECAM Summit was focused on Food Security and Health, as core issues to drive change for a prosperous planet tomorrow.
Alongside the participation of several Heads of States and Governments from the region, the Commissioners for Energy and Infrastructure, and for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy, and Sustainable Environment of the African Union, as well as Ministers in charge of relevant issues tackled by the Summit, the UfM Secretary General delivered concluding remarks, underlining that “dealing with the food security crisis can be a way of supporting our regional connections and promote our shared traditions, but also of strengthening our economies, creating jobs, and improving our health, while facing the pressing issue of climate change. The Union for the Mediterranean considers it a powerful cross-cutting tool for cooperation, from the local to the global level, to build a prosperous tomorrow for all.”
He took the occasion to exchange the European House/Ambrosetti Forum ways of collaboration with the UfM, notably the co-organisation of the next Verso Sud Forum in Egypt next year.