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In Italy, explaining food waste in fun – and “yummy” – ways

Cultural activities on World Food Day are helping young people in Italy learn about food waste and hunger.

guest author leonardo benciniThis is a guest post by Mr. Leonardo Bencini, Head of Communications, Directorate-General for Development Cooperation of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

In October 2018, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation celebrated World Food Day by organising several activities to raise awareness on SDG 2: Zero Hunger. The events engaged young people, students, diplomatic representatives, international organizations, research centres, universities and diverse government institutions.

The Ministry partnered with the Rome-based United Nations agencies (Food and Agriculture Organization, International Fund for Agricultural Development and World Food Programme), the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari (CIHEAM-Bari) and Bioversity International to organise an international conference on “the value of tradition: managing innovation without waste”.

The conference proved to be an educational and enjoyable moment. Internationally recognized experts and academics shared their ideas for local food production, environmental protection and sustainable development. The multi-ethnic Orchestra di Piazza Vittorio brought an atmosphere of magic and joy to the audience, a reminder of the power of music as a tool for social inclusion and dialogue. A comic strip exhibition called “First, don’t waste”, by renowned artist Altan, raised attention to food waste in funny and “yummy” ways, thanks to finger food prepared by Last Minute Market.

Food, comedy and sport also help us to raise awareness about SDG 2. Chef Carlo Cracco and comedian/activist Giobbe Covatta joined us in a call for action in fighting for a Zero Hunger World. Elisa di Francisca, world and Olympic fencing champion, sent a video message promoting food security especially for poor children and women.

Our work is not yet done! After supporting an FAO Poster Contest, my Ministry and the Ministry of Education, University and Research engaged with the ROMICS exhibition. We invited students from primary and secondary schools to participate in a contest and present comic strips with their own idea on the theme of the World Food Day in 2018: “Our Actions are our Future. A Zero Hunger world by 2030 is possible”.

Results and Lessons Learned

We have found that using simple language and avoiding acronyms is essential if we want to engage a larger number of people for the SDGs. By simplifying our messages and using innovative tools such as contests, we were able to reach about 500,000 people with our activities. Our audiences were mostly aged 18-45, but ROMICS also allowed us to raise awareness among younger groups, including students and children aged 6-18.

Our audiences reacted positively to our activities and showed willingness to engage with the SDGs in general, and with food security and nutrition in particular. We are now looking forward to further awareness-raising activities for 2019, including special lessons and interactive lectures with university students across Italy.

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