From China, Slow Food rallies its network of food activists in 160 countries: “Let’s change the food system and stop climate change”

Menu for Change campaign against climate change launched at the Slow Food International Congress in Chengdu

“We are all involved. Climate change is a current crisis that demands the united efforts of all of humanity. Each of our choices can make a difference, because it is the sum of all our individual actions that will drive change.”

In front of the 400 delegates from 90 countries gathered in China to represent the Slow Food and Terra Madre network, Carlo Petrini reaffirmed that global warming is a reality, that it does not affect some indefinite future but is making its effects felt today.

And so the need to reinforce the message: “It is Slow Food’s duty to work on climate change: There can be no quality, no good food, without respect for the environment, for resources and for human labor.”

During the Congress’s opening session delegates and experts from the Slow Food and Terra Madre network shared their experiences:

Remi Ie, Japan. President of Slow Food Nippon.

“In Japan, 2017 was a devastating year for fishers and farmers. Our country used to be known as ‘the land of four seasons’ but this year we experienced very heavy rains that devastated the island of Kyushu. In the north, fishers could not catch salmon because of the changed ocean currents and fish species typical of temperate seas are being found. And everyone noticed the unusual changes in the flowering of the cherry trees.”

Francesco SottileItaly. Lecturer in Arboreal Cultivation and Special Arboriculture at the University of Palermo.

“Europe saw a severe drought this summer, interspersed by sudden downpours that caused hydrogeological disasters. These exceptional events have dramatic effects on agriculture, shaping history and traditional cultures, particularly in the most vulnerable rural areas. For many years climate change has been attributed to the incessant emissions from industry, and it is only recently that there is awareness about the role that agriculture and livestock farming play. But do different agricultural models exist? We need to act, governments by setting global objectives to limit greenhouse gas emissions, and each of us with our everyday choices.”

Tiejun Wen, China. Executive dean, Institute for Advanced Studies of Sustainable Development at Renmin University and Institute for Rural Reconstruction, Southwest University.

“In order to tackle the changes currently underway it is necessary to work on the integration between the urban and rural context and on a new urbanization as a strategy for development and system innovation. In China, there are currently 30,000 cities, 600,000 administrative villages and 3 million rural villages under the management of 3,000 counties, cities and districts, where around 30 million small and medium businesses are located. However, the system based on the development of urban areas and the standard education system is often not able to respond to the needs of rural areas. The rural population, which numbers between 500 and 800 million, and rural cultures, need to have their own specific characteristics recognized, in order to be able to launch an eco-sustainable development. Three concepts should be placed at the heart of this development: solidarity for the rights of farmers, ecological agricultural security and rural environmental sustainability. To tackle the change, it is necessary to tackle the shift from a political model based on capital towards one that is based on people.”

Mbaye Diongue, Senegal. Senegalese migrant to Italy.

“In Senegal, the devastating consequences of climate change have already started an insidious and unstoppable process in coastal areas like Bargny and St Louis, where whole neighborhoods have been swallowed up by the inexorably advancing sea. The big question for us Africans, and poor or developing countries in general, is: Do we deserve all of this? Is it our fault? In Africa, we have contributed little or nothing to climate change. Why should we have to suffer it without even having the tools, means and capacity to cope with the changes underway?”

Alma Rosa Garcés Medina, Mexico. Biologist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

“In the southeast of Mexico the inappropriate use of tropical ecosystems and the adoption of unsuitable production systems has caused a serious crisis, with impacts that are not just ecological but also economic and social. To address the devastation created by these changes it will be necessary to adopt different public, educational and production policies and to embrace a strategy of sustainable local development.”

John Kariuki Mwangi, Kenya. Vice-president of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity, coordinator of Slow Food projects in Kenya and member of the Slow Food International Council for Central and East Africa.

“In Kenya, my country, the pastoralist communities are the hardest hit and many are being forced to migrate. If mitigation and adaptation measures are not taken into serious consideration, the situation will only worsen. Slow Food is working on this in Africa and the whole world through the promotion of agroecology and the protection of biodiversity, standing alongside producers. There is much to be done, and Slow Food cannot be victorious on its own.”

Today Slow Food is launching Menu for Change, the first communication and fundraising campaign to connect food and climate change. With Menu for Change we want to show that starting from food, every one of us can and must make a difference, and to share how the Slow Food network supports and promotes solutions for producing food while mitigating the impact on the climate by working to protect biodiversity, to encourage food and environmental education, to raise awareness among all actors and to try to influence politics at all levels.

Agriculture is responsible for 21% of total global emissions (FAO 2015), compared with 37% from energy, 14% from transport and 11% from industry. Within the agrifood sector, the main source of greenhouse gas emissions is the methane produced by intensive livestock farms, which accounts for 40% of the sector’s total greenhouse gas outputs. The next biggest source is the application of synthetic fertilizers, responsible for 13% of agricultural emissions. A further source of COis the transport of food products from where they are produced to where they are distributed and sold: The average distance that our food has to travel to reach our table has doubled in the last 30 years.

 

Slow Food International Press Office

Paola Nano, Giulia Capaldi

internationalpress@slowfood.it –Twitter: @SlowFoodPress

 

Slow Food has chosen as its partner South Pole Group, which has certified the event asCarbon Neutral. South Pole Group is an international company specializing in the reduction of greenhouse gases and a wide range of sustainable solutions for public and private organizations. South Pole Group will compensate for the impact and emissions generated by the Congress, including flights, through its Huóshui Grouped Small Hydropower project.

The Slow Food International Congress has been organized by Slow Food, the Chengdu Municipal Commission of Commerce and Slow Food Great China; it has also been made possible by the support of the following partners: Autogrill, Colussi, Di Martino, Easy Home, Eataly, Eatown, Imperia, La Spinetta, Lavazza and Xibei. Legal partner: BLB Studio Legale. Service provider: Somos.

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