Sustainable food systems, food security and rural people capacity development

Seminar "Sustainable food systems, food security and rural people capacity development"
Faculty of Economics “M. Biagi”, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia
Monday 19 December 2011

In the framework of the courses on “Economics and agro-industry system policy” and “Regional Policies”, a member of the ERP Coordination Unit presented a lecture on sustainable food systems, food security and rural people capacity development.

The seminar contributed, together with similar initiatives at other Universities, to share and foster knowledge about the change process – undertaken by the University of Modena - to promote capacity development in areas related to FAO’s mandate such as rural development and poverty reduction.

The ERP partnership opened the seminar with a power point presentation on “Sustainable Food Systems, Food Security and Rural People Capacity Development” organized by the Faculty of Economics “Marco Biagi” of the University of Modena (Italy). The presentation drew mainly from the research conducted by the Education for Rural People (ERP) Partnership and synthesized in its publications and web site as well as in FAO normative publications. About 100 participants attended the workshop, to share their experience and research, learn more about the relation between capacity development and education and training for rural people, and contribute to a substantive dialogue.

Professor Paola Bertolini presented a paper which is a first tentative analysis of the phenomenon of rural poverty in the European Union's regions. The analysis includes the whole EU-27 territory at NUTS3 -from French “nomenclature des unités territoriales statistiques”- (1) level and uses EUROSTAT data, supplemented in some cases by national data. In the first part, the presentation discusses the problem of defining rural areas and examines the indicators used for international comparisons (OECD and InfoRegio definitions). Afterwards, a different typology of rural and non-rural areas was presented, based on population density and the share of employment in agriculture. Three categories of regions ("Predominantly Urban", "Intermediate" and "Predominantly Rural") have been identified and then compared with regard to income, demography, education and labour market. The conclusions of the presentation underlined the relevance of the rural poverty phenomenon still existing in the European Union, which could be reinforced by the financial and economic crisis in the European Union countries.

The FAO mission identified, in cooperation with professor Bertolini, the possibility of extending the dialogue to all interested FAO services - through the Inter-Departmental Task Group on Training for Technicians for Capacity Development (TGTTCD) – and the ERP partners, in order to foster possible future knowledge exchange and cooperation.

The Faculty of Economics of the University of Modena has joined ERP as a new member. The Faculty Dean, Professor Eugenio Coperchione, welcomed in person the FAO officer to indicate how important the University considers the cooperation with FAO and ERP and expressed the wish to see this cooperation developing in the near future. Many other professors of the Faculty of Economics Marco Biagi , were interested to the FAO activities and participated to the seminar, such as professor Paolo Bosi, president of CAPP (Centro di Analisi Politiche Pubbliche), professor Paolo Sivestri, coordinator of the Masters programme in Economics and Public Policies, Professor Enrico Giovannetti, expert on Social Enterprises and Cooperation.. An interesting aspect of the meeting at the University of Modena was also the participation of other Faculties and of some Social Enterprises with an experience in developing countries.