On Saturday February 7, Slow Food President Carlo Petrini spoke to a diverse audience gathered in Milan at an event held to mark the beginning of a dialogue surrounding the different topics linked to this year’s Expo. The theme of the 2015 event is Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life. Organized by the Italian Agricultural Ministry, the event was also attended by a number of additional representatives from Slow Food who were present to take part in a series of discussions and debates.
“The Expo of Ideas: the first stage for the Charter of Milan” brought together 500 experts divided into 42 thematic groups for conversation and consideration of different topics. The aim was to start to lay the foundations of the Charter of Milan – a protocol that will feature citizens, institutions, companies, associations, academia and international organizations.
Petrini urged the audience to consider: “With what spirit are we going to Expo? We cannot focus only on the millions of tourists who will arrive in Milan; we must also deal with those farmers and ranchers who live in suffering, with the land grabbing that is destroying the lives of thousands of peasants, expelling them from their land, and with the complicit rogue governments.”
He continued with a wish: “I hope for a more sober Expo, less attentive to large pavilions and the big event. I hope for an event that has the courage to tell it like it is, open to farmers and producers. An event that welcomes people with open arms, even the humble and the poor, because they, more than others, have the right to come to Expo… Let’s end this separation between official science and traditional knowledge: only through dialogue we will overcome these divisions and build a shared perspective that will take us out of this situation. If we do not change the system, we will leave very little to future generations. The Charter of Milan is not a mere document, but rather a true beginning.”
The plenary session also included a video message from Pope Francis: “Today we live the paradox of plenty: there is food for everyone, but not everyone can eat, while waste and excessive consumption takes place before our eyes.” As always, Pope Francis went straight to the point, considering the most vulnerable and providing some practical advice: “Let’s say no to an economy based on exclusion and inequality… Let yourself be guided by the dignity of the people and the common good. ” He concluded by saying: “I ask all those who occupy positions of political, economic and social responsibility to be custodians of ourselves and others, we must not be afraid to care for the Earth with goodness and tenderness.”