World forum for sustainable food culture
On September 13, “UNESCO World Forum on Culture and Food” was held in Parma, Italy. This forum focuses on culture, food, and education to promote Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Ernesto Ottone Ramirez, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture, said “Investing in cultural heritage is effective in solving the challenges of the SDGs, and food-related traditions and customs are important indicators of collective identity and environmental sustainability,” in the opening remarks.
At the forum, how food systems have undergone significant transformation with technological advances, the massive consumption of oil, and increasing migration and urbanization, over the last century, were analyzed. These system changes caused various problems: food production accounts for a large share of global CO2 emissions; we waste a third of the food produced all over the world, equivalent to 1.3 billion tonnes; and the expansion of agricultural land became the largest factor behind deforestation. These problems threaten biodiversity and make an impact on climate change. Particularly for the over 2 billion people who currently do not have sufficient amounts of safe and nutritious food, it brings new risks to food security.
As a solution to these problems, attention has been focused on cuisine rooted in local traditions and customs. This is because it is believed that the burden on the environment can be reduced since traditional cuisine is made with locally-adapted ingredients and cooking methods. Massimo Bottura, one of the speakers and a founder of the non-profit organization “Food for Soul” that solves the problem of food loss, pointed out that chefs are also socially responsible for choosing environmentally-friendly consumption, supporting healthy diets and reducing food waste and said, “Cooking is a call to act.” The Forum concluded with the adoption of the Parma Declaration, which refers “to reinforce the links between culture and food to preserve biodiversity rooted in cultural identity and heritage, review the balance between food production and consumption and support the expansion of healthy diets.”