A “declaration” to give voice to the Italian agri-food green economy stance in an international context: this is the intent of the Manifesto of the Italian Green Economy for agriculture and food production presented within the Expo Milano 2015. The Manifesto was approved by the Italian National Council of the Green Economy, that represents 66 Italian “Green economy” business organizations.
Italian Green Economy in 7 Bullet points
The Manifesto focuses on 7 topics that are viewed as crucial: Adopt a Green Economy vision to ensure a sustainable and quality-based development of the agricultural food production; Coordinate the different functions of agriculture, giving priority to food production; Undertake appropriate measures for climate crisis mitigation and adaptation; Overcome unsustainable farming policies and encourage dissemination of best practices; Protect food security, intensify controls and develop short supply chains; Stop food waste and promote a circular economy for agri-food resources; Stop threats to food production and agricultural soils.
A sustainable development
A green economy vision means using the know-how, best practices and advanced techniques of eco-innovation to combine superior product quality, high productivity and protection of the natural capital, points out the Manifesto. Protecting, restoring and increasing biodiversity are specific duties of such a quality-based agriculture. Sustainable farming models based on quality productions that protect the environment, occupation and welfare should be promoted and adopted while making an effective and efficient use of resources. The Manifesto calls for a stronger action to fight threats to food production and avoid depleting agricultural soils, for example though air and water pollution or improper/illegal waste disposal or uncontrolled urbanization. “Agricultural soil is a natural strategic asset that must be preserved because it has no substitute”, says the Manifesto, that has been translated into different languages and disseminated and is open for signatures in order to stimulate the debate all through Expo 2015 and beyond on a national and international level, as pointed out by Edo Ronchi, chairman of Foundation for Sustainable Development, which supports the National Council of the Green Economy.
Agriculture, already going Green in Italy
The Manifesto stems out from Italy’s own experience in agriculture, although the model can be applied to other countries and contexts. The agri-food industry is a pillar of Italy’s economy with an added value in excess of 260 billion Euros yearly, worth 8.7% of the country’s GDP and occupying over 3.3 million workers. Although this industry is not exempt from challenges, it is capable of finding a way of responding to changes adopting those strategies advocated by green economy supporters such as high quality produce that respects tradition, soil and communities.
The Italian agri-business already has deep ties with the green economy: Italy’s production of renewable energy from agriculture sources has grown from 6 to 7.8 million TOEs (tonne of oil equivalent) between 2010 and 2012; the Italian farming sector has steadily reduced its greenhouse gas emissions and pesticide use and over 10% of Italian farming soil is used for organic crops, which makes Italy the leader in Europe for organic farming only behind Spain.