FAO and CIHEAM discuss key report in Paris
"Zero waste in the Mediterranean: Natural, food and knowledge resources"
Paris, France, January 24th, 2017
Co-produced by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Center for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM), the Mediterra 2016 report entitled “Zero waste in the Mediterranean: Natural, food and knowledge resources” was presented at the Sciences Po Paris, on Tuesday January 24th, 2017. The report analyzed the many challenges to be faced in terms of waste and suggested solutions while highlighting the importance of this issue to achieve a sustainable, responsible and inclusive development in the countries of the Mediterranean.
In order to exchange ideas on this central issue related to agricultural and rural development, a debate was organized in collaboration with the Press of Sciences Po, the editor of this report, in the presence of Enrico Letta, Dean of the Paris School of International Affairs at the Sciences Po and former Prime Minister of Italy; Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa Region; Cosimo Lacirignola, secretary general of CIHEAM and Sébastien Abis, scientific and technical coordinator of Mediterra 2016.
Mediterra 2016 highlights the importance of combating waste through the implementation of more sustainable approaches all along the food and agricultural production chain and through the development of public policies.
The report noted that the Mediterranean holds only 3% of the world’s water resources but is home to more than half of the so-called “water-poor” populations in the world, with more than 180 million people.
In fact, it is apparent from the report that the waste of natural resources makes sustainable development impossible as water and land availability are reduced, climate shocks are increasing engendering disastrous impacts on production, and fisheries and forests are more than ever in danger.
The speakers agreed that the erosion of arable land due to “rapid urbanization”, soil salinization, desertification or fires, are all challenges that we should face.
The Food waste issue that was tackled by the participants, was presented as a top priority in terms of population growth in the region and the requirements of consumers at a time when it is requested simultaneously “to produce more and better, with less efforts.” During the debate, the participants also pointed out how food insecurity was linked to social instability though this strategic stake was still largely underestimated.
The speakers noted that in North Africa, the average age of farmers is more than 50 years, while the region has one of the highest unemployment rates among youth and women in the world.
Finally, Mediterra tackled the problem of the waste of knowledge, an insidious waste that weighs on the intergenerational transmission and threatens to expunge the traditional agricultural, fisheries, rural and gastronomic knowledge and know-how in the Mediterranean. The relegation of certain rural areas, the unemployment, the “brain drain” or the inadequate management methods of the territories, are all wasted or, at least, misused resources. The valuable human resources and potentials for rural areas are wasted, especially among young people and women.
The speakers described the Mediterranean as a magnifying glass that highlights the social, economic and environmental challenges related to agricultural and food issues in the world
The waste problem has social, organizational, economic, technical and environmental dimensions as common challenges, for which there are many awaiting solutions through technical and social innovations, research and teaching oriented towards the needs and actions pursued under the framework of an enhanced multilateral Mediterranean cooperation.