A New Vision is Needed
Agricultural production is one of the pillars of the economy, representing 3% of world GDP and almost 30% of global employment. However, agricultural markets are unstable, reacting to speculative forecasts by operators, with price variations, as happened in 1986, 1996 or 2008. Strong price increases trigger riots and riots among consumers, as well as high income instability for producers: agro-food SMEs and farms.
In 2020, this situation has even been more complicated by the closure of borders to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Food insecurity, which already affects almost 40% of the world’s population due to lack of food or its poor quality, is much more compromised without the proper functioning of supply chains and public health.
It is time for efficient approaches. Heritage diets, such as the Mediterranean Diet, must form the basis for the construction of regional food systems, based on proximity, solidarity and autonomy, and therefore, more resistant to economic and social, health or climate crises.
In 2019, global agricultural startups invested nearly $ 20 billion in FoodTech. In the Mediterranean, the challenge is to promote modern, competitive, global and resource-sustainable agriculture in order to increase the attractiveness of the sector and offer employment opportunities to young people in a technology-dependent labour market.
A new vision and association of the agricultural and food sector in the Mediterranean is urgent, based on joint development networks, which help to overcome current and future crises.
It is urgent to promote measures to reactivate the agro-food sector and avoid its suffocation, but it is also imperative to lay the foundations for a new model of sustainable development. It is time to make courageous decisions.
17th November 2021
17:00 – 18:30
Mediterranean Meeting of Agriculture and Food
Investing in Sustainable Agriculture and building a Sustainable Mediterranean Food System Framework
Businesses, governments and people from all walks of life are increasingly recognising sustainable and responsible business practices as crucial to confronting some of the world’s most pressing economic, social and environmental challenges. More so now than ever, consumers insist on knowing that they’re buying and eating sustainably grown food. The problem is that the agriculture sector has lacked a definitive standard for defining and measuring adherence to sustainable farming practices that can be applied across all crop types and geographies.
To address that critical gap, a new performance-based, industry wide sustainability standard for agriculture must be developed.
Furthermore, the Farm to Fork Strategy will help shape farms in Mediterranean region in such a way that they respond to the consumers and environmental expectations, while still the farming business. Is the current Farm to Fork strategy proposal going to succeed to bridge the gap between consumers and farmers? Will the intermediate actors of the supply chain also be bound by commitments, or will voluntary action remain paramount?
Making the Mediterranean Food System Climate Resilient
Strengthening the Mediterranean cooperation for research and innovation in the agro-food system. There is a need of promoting the Euro-Mediterranean Dialogue, which will focus on existing and potential areas of collaboration on research and innovation between the European Union and the Mediterranean region, particularly with respect to the digitalisation of food and agriculture, climate resilience, environmental protection and healthy diets.
In addition to representatives from the governments, the private sector, regional institutions, panellists will also include stakeholders from the agro-food industry and civil society, who are already contributing to the Mediterranean research and innovation agenda in this area.
Mediterranean Diet: more than just Food. Demanding Sustainably Grown Food
As we all know the Mediterranean Diet embraces all people living in the Mediterranean basin. Thus, it is common belief that Mediterranean countries in the passage of the historical time have formed a common nutritional culture. Beyond states and regions, the most important thing that we must keep in mind is that this nutritional model is associated with history, tradition, local products, traditional cuisine and everyday life.
The importance of the Mediterranean Diet is that it encompasses more than just food. It promotes social interaction, since communal meals are the cornerstone of social customs and festive events. It has given rise to a considerable body of knowledge, songs, maxims, tales and legends. The system is rooted in respect of the territory and biodiversity, and ensures the conservation and development of traditional activities and crafts linked to fishing and farming in the Mediterranean communities.
This will be a panel for the exchange of ideas and shared solutions on the theme of Mediterranean Diet, stimulating each country’s creativity and promoting innovation for a sustainable future.
Furthermore, from a finite supply of arable land, the planet needs to nourish and sustain a global population that’s already grown to 7.8 billion and is expected to continue to grow to nearly 10 billion by 2050. Recognising the challenge to feed our increasing population, there’s been growing demand for assurance around responsible environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices, and it starts with the consumer.
Consumers are now more interested in knowing where their food comes from, how it’s produced, and whether it’s fundamentally safe. We expect the trend toward sustainably grown and supplied food to accelerate as a maturing cohort of millennials continues to distinguish itself from prior generations by embracing values-based consumption. In fact, three out of four millennials are willing to pay more for sustainable offerings.
Idriss Atef | CEO, Mena Food Safety Associates (MEFOSA)
Willi Schulz-Greve | Head of Unit, EU Directorate-General for Agricultural and Rural Development, European Commission
Walid Gaddas | Managing Director, STECIA International Tunisia
Rafaa Marouki | Chief Agricultural Economist North Africa region, African Development Bank (AFDB)
Rémi Trier | Senior Water Resources Management Specialist, The World Bank
Ben Leyka | Chief Executive Officer, African Agri Council
Othman Tlemcani | Principal Agribusiness, European Bank for Reconstruction and Developmen (EBRD)
Idriss Atef | CEO, Mena Food Safety Associates (MEFOSA)