HomeProgressNovember 28, 2021, the first Mediterranean Day

November 28, 2021, the first Mediterranean Day

The first Mediterranean Day was celebrated on November 28, 2021, on the initiative of the 42 countries - the 27 EU Member States and the 15 on the southern and eastern coasts of the Mare Nostrum - participating in the Union for Mediterranean (UfM).

The foundation PRIMA (The Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area) organized in this context, on 25.11.21, a seminar on 'The future of the Mediterranean diet: challenges, opportunities and actions', with contributions from FAO and WHO.

It is essential to create an operational synergy with all stakeholders that participate in the agri-food and fish supply chains, to give a transformation based on the sustainable development of food systems.

Union for Mediterranean

La Union for Mediterranean (UfM) is the intergovernmental organization established through the signing of a joint declaration by the heads of state and government of 42 countries, on 13.7.08, at the appropriate Paris Summit. (1)

The path of cooperation, dialogue and regional integration in the Euro-Mediterranean area had been started in 1995, with the Barcelona Process. And it continued, despite the war disasters in Syria and Libya, with hundreds of local and international projects.

Isidro Gonzales - Deputy Secretary General of UfM with responsibility for water resources, the environment and the Blue Economy - underlines the importance of strengthening cooperation on renewable energy, transport, circular economy. Research and innovation should guide the development of the blue economy through the sharing of knowledge and skills, to create value and jobs.

European Commission, project Food 2030

The European Commission - through Karen Fabbri, Deputy Director of the Unit Bioeconomy and Food Systems - illustrates the project Food 2030. EU policies for research and innovation in agri-food systems integrate the three pillars of economic, social and environmental sustainability in a logic from cradle to cradle. Primary production, transformation, distribution and sale, consumption, but also management of packaging, secondary flows, co-products and waste.

The priorities there are four: nutrition for healthy and sustainable diets, eco-sustainability of food systems, circular economy and resource efficiency. With innovation not only technological but also social, institutional and governance. The ten action plans aim to achieve these objectives, considering, among other things, the needs related to:

- alternative protein sources, (2)

- healthy nutrition, with attention also to microbiota,

- resource efficiency and reduction of food waste,

- governance in the transformation of systems,

- sustainable fishing and aquaculture, algae and microalgae.

Horizon 2020,  partnership europee

La partnership European on food, bioeconomy, natural resources, agriculture and the environment will stimulate investment and increase the social relevance, impact, acceptance and visibility of research and innovation.

The four macro-areas of intervention aspire to promote progress on the diet of populations, food production, the relationship of citizens with food and governance of food systems. The representative of the European Commission stresses the advisability of referring to the program Horizon 2020 to contribute to this transformation.

WHO, the double burden of malnutrition

WHO, through Ayoub Al-Jawaldeh, Regional Advisor Nutrition at the Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office (EMRO), notes the cd double burden of malnutrition. In the Mediterranean countries, in Africa and Asia, overweight and obesity afflict about 50% of the population, and at the same time there is widespread malnutrition. Not only due to malnutrition, but also due to the spread of ultraprocessed foods, with excesses of sugar or in any case lacking in essential nutrients and dietary fiber.

The global goal adequate nutrition is not achieved. It is therefore necessary to invest in agriculture and processing, with incentives and rules, to improve access and availability of nutritious and balanced foods. Adopt public policies and guidelines to promote healthy eating, physical activity and reformulation of ultra-processed foods. Effective nutrition labels - such as the NutriScore, which in fact complies with the WHO guidelines (3) - must help consumers choose the most balanced foods.

Food security, the great challenge

FAO through Jose Valles he recalls the need for healthy and safe diets to be accessible to all, respecting the cultures of peoples. There food security therefore the great challenge remains, intimately connected to extreme poverty (# SDG2, # SDG1) but also to health needs (# SDG3).

Networks for research and innovation they serve precisely to foster the efficiency and resilience of supply chains in a continuous and long-term logic, where healthy nutrition is combined with the sustenance of local communities. Just like it is happening in Camel Milk, one of the projects H2020 in which our team participates. (4)

Octavi Quintana, head of agri-food policies at PRIMA, points out the factors that are associated with the great challenge of food security. Indeed, global population growth is combined with climate change and water scarcity, desertification and overexploitation of natural resources, unsustainable agricultural practices, loss of agrodiversity and lack of agri-food innovation in the Mediterranean. (5)

BEFORE, sustainable nutrition and the Mediterranean diet

PRIMApartnership for food research and innovation in the Mediterranean area, is a ten-year initiative (2018-2028) partly funded by the EU program Horizon 2020. The main objective is to strengthen the agri-food systems to ensure the stability of the food security and adaptation to climate change. 19 countries participate (Algeria, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malta, Morocco, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Tunisia and Turkey).

Childhood obesity is a major concern, as it is bound to affect the prevalence of serious and noncommunicable diseases (Non-Communicable Diseases, NCDs) and public health. Obesity between the ages of 7 and 8 today affects 1 in 8 children in Europe, with higher rates in Cyprus, Italy, Greece, Malta and Spain. In the southeastern Mediterranean, Egypt and Turkey are among the top 10 countries in the world with the highest childhood obesity tax.

The Mediterranean diet- recognized from UNESCO intangible heritage of humanity, on 16.11.09 - must return to be part of the lifestyle habits of the populations of this area. Through the consumption of natural and lightly processed foods such as vegetables, fruits, cereals, whole grains, legumes and olive oil, as well as protein sources from various sources. But also in a broader sense, where the diet is part of a healthy and frugal lifestyle, respectful of the cycles of nature and the environment. Culture, health, sustainable development.

Dario Dongo and Isis Consuelo Sanlucar Chirinos

Notes

(1) Joint Declaration of the Paris Summit for the Mediterranean. Paris, 13.7.08, https://ufmsecretariat.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/ufm_paris_declaration1.pdf

(2) Dario Dongo. Microalgae and insects, the search for sustainable proteins in Horizon 2020. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 27.5.20, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/innovazione/microalghe-e-insetti-la-ricerca-di-proteine-sostenibili-in-horizon-2020

(3) Dario Dongo. Codex Alimentarius, the NutriScore and the WHO guidelines. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 29.9.21, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/etichette/codex-alimentarius-il-nutriscore-e-le-linee-guida-who

(4) Dario Dongo, Andrea Adelmo Della Penna. Milk of camelids, Mediterranean perspective. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 8.9.21, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/progresso/latte-di-camelidi-prospettiva-mediterranea

(5) Dario Dongo. The world in 2050, necessary transformations. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 4.11.18, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/idee/il-mondo-nel-2050-trasformazioni-necessarie

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.

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Graduated in food engineering at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, she is attending the master's degree in 'Food Safety Lawyer and Consultant' at Alma Mater, University of Bologna.

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