Food Tank recently had the opportunity to speak with Luca Virginio, Chief Communication and External Relations Officer of Barilla Group and Vice President of the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition Foundation, who was one of the speakers at the 2015 Food Tank Summit in partnership with The George Washington University.
Food Tank (FT): What will your message be at the Food Tank Summit?
Luca Virginio (LV): The Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (BCFN) Foundation will introduce the Milan Charter, an ambitious global food deal that will be presented at the Universal Expo in Milan this year. The Milan Charter is the policy the Italian government is using, with the contribution of institutions, academia, civil society, and the private sector, to promote a more sustainable global food system. The final version will be handed over to the Secretary General of the United Nations during the World Food Day in Milan as the legacy of Expo 2015, featuring the theme “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.”
The Milan Charter originates from various initiatives, taking into account the different perspectives of a broken food system, and promotes solutions for the future of our planet. The BCFN has played a leading role in the Milan Charter, analyzing the major paradoxes on food and nutrition since the Charter’s foundation in 2009, and expanding four years later withthe Milan Protocol, a policy offering solutions to solve those paradoxes. Since presenting the Milan Protocol at the end of 2013, the BCFN has worked hard to ensure that almost 100 organizations, institutions. and private companies sign it. We are proud to announce that the Milan Protocol will contribute key content to the development of the Milan Charter.
FT: How are you contributing to building a better food system?
LV: Since 2009, our Foundation has worked to ensure that the urgent issues related to food and nutrition become priorities of opinion leaders and decision makers across the world. We consider ourselves a research center and an information resource that can act as a bridge between research and governmental action. We promote multidisciplinary open debates, dialogues, and annual fora, innovative research programs with the contribution of an international network of experts and dissemination of results. We are committed to creating an open dialogue. We develop recommendations on food and nutrition in order to help improve the overall wellbeing of all people.
FT: What are the biggest obstacles or challenges you face in achieving your organization’s goals?
LV: In building momentum for the Milan Protocol, which will form the basis of the Milan Charter, we encountered several challenges in getting institutions and the private sector to sign up. It’s an ambitious document that touches several interests, but we’re confident that it can be done. It’s not going to be easy to get certain countries to limit the use of land for biofuel production, or to get financial institutions to accept strict limits on financial speculation, or to have certain companies slash food waste. But if we all work together—each doing our part—it can be done!
FT: Who is your food hero and why?
LV: It would be too hard to pick one single person, company, or organization. We believe the food heroes are all the young researchers and activists who are working hard to build a better food system—and there are many out there! That’s why we launched the BCFN YES! (Young Earth Solutions) contest in 2012, to give a voice—and resources—to all the young efforts out there.
FT: In 140 characters or fewer, what is the most important thing we can all do to help change the food system.
LV: Sign up to the Milan Charter for EXPO 2015, a global deal to fix our broken food system. It’s time to take action, now!