IPES-Food debates agroecological alternatives with Italian Foreign Ministry and Rome-based agencies at high-level Rome meeting

(19.05.2017) A transition from industrial agriculture to diversified agroecological systems was at the top of the agenda this week at a high-level meeting co-organized by IPES-Food and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Rome, 18 May).

The meeting, entitled 'Building the sustainable food systems of the 21st Century: the agroecological alternative', brought together the heads of the Rome-based UN agencies and high-level government officials to discuss agroecological alternatives.

The audience heard addresses from H.E. Benedetto Della Vedova (Undersecretary of State, Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation); Olivier De Schutter (Co-chair IPES-Food); Emile Frison (lead author of IPES-Food's 2016 report 'From Uniformity to Diversity'), Alexander Müller (TEEB-AgriFood Study Leader); Jose Graziano da Silva (Director General, FAO); Gilbert F. Houngbo (President, IFAD) – IFAD’s development programme for sustainable agriculture; David Beasley (Executive Director, WFP); Ann Tutweiler (Director General, Bioversity International); and Ambassador Pietro Sebastiani (Director General for Development Cooperation, Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Angelino Alfano, underlined the need to promote "new food production models, aiming to assure food security to the world’s growing population without however neglecting the protection of biodiversity and of the environment."

He added: "Current food systems risk tilting the system in favour of increasing the quantity of food production, thus undermining the planet’s natural resources and negatively impacting climate change. This is why Italy now encourages the debate over the search of agroecologically diversified systems as the instrument through which to continue, over the coming years, a battle which is crucial for us: eradicating hunger.” (See full statement from the ministry here).

IPES-Food made the case for transition to agroecology in the panel's first thematic report (2016): From Uniformity to Diversity: a paradigm shift from industrial agriculture to diversified agroecological systems (also available in French).