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Director General  José Graziano da Silva

FAO Director–General, Italian Minister for Public Health take stock of Expo achievements

Put spotlight on Milan Charter and Milan Urban Food Policy Pact

FAO Director-General and Minister Lorenzin

29 October 2015, Rome - FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva today met with Italy’s Minister for Public Health, Beatrice Lorenzin, to discuss joint efforts on nutrition and animal health and to review the successful collaboration throughout Expo Milano 2015, which concludes today.

The FAO Director-General expressed his gratitude for the excellent collaboration of the Italian Government with FAO in the framework of Expo and for Italy’s key support to the organization of the World Food Day 2015 in Milano as one of its major highlights.

Both principals discussed the recently endorsed Milan Charter, which aims to spur global dialogue on the role of hunger eradication in achieving sustainable development, along with the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact. The latter is a commitment by more than 100 cities from around the world to make urban food systems more equitable and sustainable.

“Expo Milano gave us an opportunity to increase our cooperation and we now look forward to helping countries focus more on nutrition issues,” said Graziano da Silva. While world hunger is declining, he warned that obesity and non-communicable diseases are rapidly increasing and adding new responsibilities for the international community.

The FAO chief highlighted the need to promote and preserve healthy diets, pointing to the Mediterranean diet as one good example of this.

“The Expo legacy cannot go to waste. It is an event that linked environment to food and food to health,”, Minister Lorenzin said. “Our objective with nutrition policies is not only to cure ill people”, but to make sure that healthy people stay healthy and good nutrition plays a crucial role in prevention,” she added.

Both agreed on the need for nutrition education so that people can make conscious choices. “Consumers need better information to know what they are buying,” said the FAO Director-General.

Sharing her experience as a breastfeeding mother, Minister Lorenzin also advocated for the benefits of breastfeeding for mothers and children around the world.

Follow up to ICN2

Discussions also touched upon the need to translate the commitments made at the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2), to which Italy provided valuable political and financial support, to concrete actions at the national level. “Many of the debates at ICN2 were later included in our national public health plans,” Minister Lorenzin said, adding that Italy has also made the role of nutrition for disease prevention a point on their agenda for their presidency of the Council of the EU in 2014. “It is important that our efforts are taken not only to the country, but to Europe and the Mediterranean area.”

Enhanced cooperation in animal health

Graziano da Silva and Minister Lorenzin also agreed to explore options for a more strengthened collaboration on animal health and food safety issues, recognizing that “animal epidemics directly impact food insecurity. “Italy is a laboratory of experience and can offer its scientific potential to address these issues”, Minister Lorenzin mentioned.

The Director-General referred to the negative impact of climate change creating a more rapid dissemination of animal diseases worldwide. He specifically pointed to the collaboration with WHO and other organizations on promoting the One Health approach – an initiative that supports looking at  global public health, nutrition, food safety and natural resource management as interconnected issues.