The end of the year is usually a time for drawing up a balance sheet—more than just a financial statement—of everything that has been done over the past 12 months, in order to understand the nature and impact of different activities.
Looking at Slow Food and Terra Madre, I would like to briefly dwell on the important results obtained over the course of this year, rich in events and stimuli and challenging on many fronts, and on the most important recognitions we have obtained, because these things offer a measure of how we are growing.
Back in May, Slow Food signed a three-year memorandum of agreement with the FAO, setting the joint objective of adding value to the work of small-scale farmers and local networks and promoting their essential role in the protection of biodiversity. This year also saw many acknowledgements from the European Union, which is increasingly recognizing our association as crucially important in terms of its capacity to inspire the direction agricultural and food policies will take in the future. And three months ago, I received a “Champion of the Earth” award from the United Nations Environment Programme, in recognition of the significant and positive effect Slow Food has had on the health and well-being of our planet. I’d also like to highlight the fact that the FAO has confirmed the key role of Indigenous peoples in the fight against hunger and malnutrition, a role that we have long asserted for them, focusing attention on how Indigenous knowledge must be a source of inspiration for everyone. Not by chance, we are working hard on the organization of the next Indigenous Terra Madre, which will be held in Meghalaya in 2015.
The biggest surprise, however, came a month or so ago, when I received a letter from Pope Francis after an unexpected phone call. Given its importance, I’d like to share some of it with you. “Slow Food and Terra Madre’s activities, aimed at promoting methods of food production in harmony with nature, inspire feelings of sincere appreciation in my heart. I therefore encourage you to continue with this meaningful work. There is much need for people and organizations that encourage the cultivation and protection of Creation. Cultivating and protecting Creation is an instruction from God given not just at the start of history (see Genesis 2:15), but to each of us, in order to responsibly make the world grow, transforming it into a place habitable for everyone.”
I see these words as a great encouragement to continue along the path that we are all following together, with courage, sensitivity and determination: the path towards good, clean and fair food, which liberates us and makes us responsible. The path towards a better future.
These are the best wishes I can send to you, to start the coming year in the best way, with the best energy.
Carlo Petrini, President of Slow Food
Translation by Carla Ranicki