Towards the Expo 2015: the challenges of nutrition and agriculture sustainability at the forefront of international diplomacy?

We have created this blog in a voluntary basis because we, Lucia, Laura and Juliette, expect that the Expo, which will take place in Milan next year, from May to October (147 participating countries, more than 20 million visitors expected), will constitute an opportunity to emphasize the theme of food and agriculture sustainability[1].

The next monts agenda, before the Expo 2015, is full of events which really give a unique opportunity to highlight these issues and challenges. The mobilization of the civil society in the perspective of the Expo 2015 also represents an important factor in order to answer to the central question given by the Expo: how to ensure a qualitative, sustainable, healthy and sufficient food to the whole humankind?

Here is a small preview of the institutional events of the future months!

Lucia e Juliette

The semester of the presidency of the EU Council: an opportunity for Italy to highlight the themes of the Expo on the political European agenda?

Logo officiel présidence italienne du conseil de l'UE

Logo of the presidency

According to the Italian Minister of Agriculture, Maurizio Martina, the Italian presidency has an “enormous potential” and it represents an extraordinary opportunity “to organize a new international diplomacy” where the challenges carried out by the Expo could be highlighted[3]. During a meeting with Dacian Ciolos, the European Commissary for the Agriculture and Rural Development, on 24th June 2014, Maurizio Martina has claimed that “agriculture and agribusiness will be at the centre of the agenda of the Italian semester of the EU presidency (…). Among the issues, considered as strategic: food security, fight against food waste, generational change in agriculture, the development of international agreements between EU and the external countries”. Dacian Ciolos has declared that “ all the initiatives that the Italian presidency will take to prepare the Expo 2015 will be sustained by the European Commission”[4] and he has underlined that Italy would have to make the most of the Expo, in order to widespread its savoir-faire, its culture of “bien-manger”, and also the European model of agriculture. The Italian minister has also announced that the main theme of the next informal Council of the Ministers of Agriculture, which will take place at the end of September in Milan, will be the Expo.

United Nations in action on the themes of the Expo 2015, waiting for major deadlines: ICN2 and Millennium Development Goals

Even though UN don’t have a dedicated pavillion, it will be present on the Expo website through the theme: “Zero hunger challenge: united for a sustainable world”[5]. UN agencies, specialized on agriculture issues (FAO, WFP and IFAD) sustain and actively partecipate at the process of preparation of the Expo. Indeed, the issues concerning the right to food, the world imbalances among those who are starving (870 million people[6]) and those who suffer from obesity are at the centre of the debate carried out by the UN and they totally integrate in the theme of the Expo.

The UN links two important deadlines with Expo 2015:

  • The Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) of November 2014


The Second International Conference on Nutrition which will take place in Rome, from 19 to 21 November 2014, is an open intergovernmental meeting, organized by FAO and WHO (World Health Organization)[7]”.

29th May 2014, the FAO Director General, José Graziano da Silva has declared in his speech, that the “conference on Nutrition and the Expo 2015 are linked events which contribute to the same objective: “to work for the food safety and for nutrition”. They are two symbolic events which enable us to build the sustainable future that we want[8]”.

  • The review of the Millennium Development Goals in 2015[9]

The theme of the Expo is deeply related to some Millennium Goals formulatedOMD by the UN, in particolar the fight against hunger. Even though some progress have been made, hundreds of people are still suffering from hunger and poverty. A summit will be likely organized in September 2015[10], in order to follow this ambitious program. And the Expo represents an opportunity to disclose and foster the dialogue over these important issues.

The Expo 2015: towards a global agreement on Nutrition? The key role of the civil society.

Nevertheless, the period in which the Universal Expo will take place, from may to october 2015, will enable to put into the foreground of the diplomatic scene, the nutrition and agriculture challenges. Italy hopes to have a “central role” in order to “answer to the global nutrition challenge”. 29th of may, in an interview to the Italian newspaper, Corriere della Sera[11], the minister of Italian Agriculture, Maurizio Martina, has expressed the desire that: “Italy could become the protagonist of this effort in order to write an agreement for a healthy, safe and sufficient nutrition for all”. The Italian minister has announced that a global forum on agriculture will involve the ministers of 147 countries, participating at the Expo in may 2015.

Many events, mainly carried out by the main players of the civil society (though sustained by the institutions), will be organized, in order that the Expo 2015 could be concluded by an agreement, a protocol and a manifesto over the themes of the Expo. We hope to be able to interview the actors who are carrying on these initiatives still under construction.

In particolar, two initiatives are worthy to be mentioned:

  • The protocol of Milan

Protocole de MilanThe Barilla center for food nutrition (Bcfn) asks for the sign of a protocol of Milan, which will be a « global agreement on nutrition (…), which will be inspired on the exemple of the protocol of Kyoto, with three main objectives : reduction of 50% of around 1.3 billion of food waste in the world (…), writing of an agrarian reform and a fight against the financial speculation (…), fight against the obesity and call for the importance of the nutrition education[12]”. The initiative is sustained by the WWF, Eataly, Legambiente, Biodiversity International and it is considered an interesting event by the minister of the Italian Agriculture and by FAO[13].

  • The manifesto of the Expo of tExpo dei Popoli logohe Peoples – which is a coordination of NGOs and associations which work for the realisation of a Forum of the Peoples during the Expo 2015 – which has developed a manifesto “Expo of the Peoples”, which constitutes an important base for the dialogue. It will be finalised during the forum.

To conclude, to put the challenges of the Expo into the foreground of the International scene means to share them widely, to foster the dialogue among the civil society, the States and even the UN. A full program, which hopefully will concretize in the next months and during the Expo 2015, because the nutrition and agricultural challenges “are worthy of it!” ;)

Temporary agenda towards the Expo 2015

Nutrition and agricolture – and the challenge of their sustainibility – on the International scene?

  • From July to december 2014: Italian presidency of the Council of the EU
  • September 2014: informal Council of the European ministers of agricolture in Milan, whose main theme will be the Expo
  • From 19 to 21 november 2014: second International Conference on Nutrition in Rome
  • May 2015: starting of the Expo. Global Forum on agriculture which will involve the ministers of 147 countries participating at the Expo (to be confirmed)
  • September 2015: summit to follow the program of the Millennium Goals (to be confirmed)


[1] And, from our part, we want to follow and partecipate to the debate, to meet engaged actors, highlight good practices, etc… J

[2] Source: Department of the european policies, presindency of the Italian Council of Ministry, news release of 4th June

[3] Source: intervention of Maurizio Martina during the conference of 3rd march 2014 “Milan today, Milan tomorrow” organised by the Corriere Foundation and Expo Milan 2015

[6] Source: Minister of the Agricultural Nutrition and Forestry Policies

[9] Eight main objectives formulated by the UN in 2000 with the deadline in 2015:

[13] Communiqué de presse du Bcfn del 3 giugno 2014

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