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Manifesto towards the PEOPLE’S EXPO 

The assignment to Milan and to Italy of Expo 2015 “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” offer us the opportunity to share ideas and proposals about a so strategic theme for the future of humanity, for instance with the community of Milan, but also with all the subjects who will be open to dialogue.

Expo 2015 will be the chance, according to recent declarations, to share with peoples from the whole world experiences, projects and strategies aimed at feeding the planet and assuring energy for life to future generations.

We believe that Expo 2015 could and should represent an important opportunity not only to address the resources of that specific event towards goals of environmental sustainability or engagement in fighting poverty and towards a sustainable development, but also – and above all – to let emerge (during Expo) and spread (after Expo), strongly and coherently, the cultural, social, technological and environmental essential conditions to be citizens of a sustainable and fair world.

We feel and would like to share, a sense of high responsibility towards the ones who still suffer because of the consequences and effects of environmental degradation, extreme poverty and gender inequalities. The inability to guarantee food security and a dignified life to more of one billion people should concern every one of us, citizens and governments of a still too unfair world, unbalanced in favour of an apparently luckier minority. Not only the respect of promises from the richest countries towards a sustainable development, but the credibility of our global policies itself is now put into discussion.

Expo 2015 won’t be obviously the final goal but certainly a step – important if we want it – of a path which will have to become a crucial point of a wider net of international relations, aimed at redefining behaviors and goals of that phenomenon called globalisation.

We’d like globalisation to finally become virtuous, able to appreciate, instead of flattening them, all the different realities, the local peculiarities and the ecosystems, source of enrichment and socio-diversity in culture, economy and politics, which represent the real wealth of our planet. The globalisation of the opportunities and of participation, against the globalisation of exploitation and exclusion.

In this challenge, which must include a great number of different actors, we want to be present as well, as many and different associations, committed in doing our best about these themes. Today we would like to gather all the NGOs and the associations we work with in Italy, Europe and around the world.

This call is also theirs, if willing, without copyrights, and without ideological distinctions, because the commitment should be of everyone, can be of everyone. Contributions and integrations are also obviously welcome.

In the world, urban population exceeded – for the first time – rural population, and desertification and competition on soil abuse, becoming stronger due to speculations, risk to increase the impossibility of the poorest to access food and water, to spread gender inequalities and poverty’s feminization and to worsen the impoverishment of biodiversity. The lately worsened food crisis causes problems of governance, resources distribution and self-determination of peoples. Food, far away from being a universally assured right, is considered just as a commodity to trade and to make the highest profit from. Poverty becomes indigence and the indigent ones become ghosts: inconvenient and then invisible. This particularly impacts on the women’s central role into food sovereignty worsened by patriarchal logics and unfair development policies.

At the same time, energy requirements are increasing, while resources are rapidly decreasing; the abuse of fossil fuels is causing climate changes and international tensions, which often degenerate in brutal conflicts and wars. For too long we, actors of the civil society of the whole world, have underlined the global issues and suggested possible solutions, but have always be pointed at as visionaries.

Today we want Expo to be the beginning of a common path shared by civil society, institutions and companies, towards a planet where a dignified life is assured to every human being and to our Earth itself.

We wish that 2015, established by the UN as the year of the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) about the global great emergencies, could represent the real checkpoint of a path which has to define aims and tools towards the defeat of poverty, gender equality promotion, women’s empowerment and the improvement in the environmental protection.

Starting from every citizen in his own Country and reaching the global dimension, through the capitalization and enhancement of the real experiences, daily achieved in a bottom-up strategy towards the global results.

All of this, from the perspective of the overcoming of the MDGs schematic logic, towards a new approach based on the concept of Food Sovereignty defined, according to Nyélény declaration, as “the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems”.

We hope Expo in Milan to be remembered as a turning point into the global commitment in guaranteeing more efficient and, at the same time, fairer production conditions for food and energy: this will be possible only with a real shared effort from institutions, civil society and “producers”, which has to lead politics to define common and forward-looking rules.

We ask that the ones who share direct responsibilities and decisional powers on Expo 2015, will declare their commitment in the realisation of a real assembly of peoples, the “People’s Expo”. This assembly, in parallel o close to the UN General Assembly which will have to evaluate MDGs results and define the future strategies, will have the opportunity to discuss policies towards development and fight against poverty and to take to the UN Assembly the proposals suggested by the civil society and the peoples of the world. To achieve this target it is necessary, from now on to 2015, to foster relationships and to gather worldwide adhesion and support, also with the patronage from the organizers.

To achieve all of this, it won’t be enough to promote the Expo as an event, make of it just a showcase of future promises and efforts. It will be necessary instead to build at once, through dedicated events, a new and shared awareness and sensitiveness about common goods and values, such as water, food, soil, energy resources, human rights, gender equality, peace, dignity and the right to a dignified life. These are fundamental assets and values but still limited or scarcely accessible; they are essential to sustain the civil and fair development of our and future generations. They are goods and values to be preserved according to principles of quantity and quality sustainability and they can’t and must not follow the pure market logic, but rather it is politics and the civil society who must play an important role in their management.

We, associations of the civil society, will work hard so that some crucial themes become part of the official path towards Expo 2015:

First of all we foster the concept of food as a fundamental Human Right, according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and many other international Treaties.

Moreover we think it is essential to link the topic of the Right to Food to some complex questions, which request an important debate among the different involved actors and a continuative close examination, such as:

  1. The land grabbing phenomenon in the countries of the South of the World, aiming at producing food for countries which are or will not be self-sufficient, producing agro-fuels, speculating on land as an opportunity to earn profits from a scarce resource. Moreover, land rights should take into account an equitable access among women and men;
  2. Financial speculation on food defined as a commodity and the necessity of correspondence between agriculture prices and production costs;
  3. The impact of intensive livestock farming and breeding on climate change, biodiversity and sustainability;
  4. The right of small farmers to produce food and the right of farmers and citizens to decide what and how to consume and to choose products and producers;
  5. The right of Countries or regional organisations to be protected from agriculture and food imports at a very low and unfair price (dumping);
  6. The use of sustainable production and control methods on internal markets, in order to avoid structural surplus (supply management);
  7. The participation of populations in the decisional processes about agriculture policies, with a special attention to the acknowledgment of the rights of women farmers, who play an essential role in food production.

We reckon that the path towards EXPO 2015 should bring to light and let circulate the best practices (high land performance, high sustainability and warranty of social justice in the access to food) both at a local and global level, which are part of the debate and backed by documented data and results:

  1. The agro-ecological approach, recently described by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Olivier De Schutter;
  2. The local solutions, recently identified and supported in Italy by citizens, small producers, civil society, universities and distribution system:
  3. Farmers Markets, “chilometro zero” food and last minute market
  4. Organic and bio-social agriculture
  5. Gruppi di Acquisto Solidali (Solidarity Pourchasing Groups) and Distretti di Economia Solidale (Socio and Solidarity Economies Districts)
  6. Fair trade of Italian products (jail cooperatives, lands confiscated to Italian criminal organisations, social cooperatives…)
  7. Realisation of common fields, also at home and in schools
  8. Projects and educational programs about the Right to Food, to be developed with schools, local administrations, universities, civil society and private sector
  9. Protection of biodiversity through the safeguard and diffusion of traditional species (both vegetables and animals), which have already proved to be more adaptable and to need fewer resources to grow and fight diseases and climate changes
  10. Campaigns in favor of the reduction of packaging and of waste.

Milan, European city, should succeed in making the path towards Expo become a great opportunity to re-launch and strengthen cohesion on ambitious goals, to be achieved by investing in the promotion of self-sufficiency and in efficient technologies and renewable energy sources, but also through policies of technology transfer and cooperation, so that progress of the South of the World would be released from fossil fuel dependency and put in a context where access to food and energy would be fair and sustainable.

The ambitious goal of representing in Expo 2015 how to “Feed the Planet” requires a specific attention to de definition of this theme both at a global and at the local level, such as in the areas around the Fair District (in particular in the “Parco Agricolo Sud Milano” and in Lombardia). For this reason we consider really important that inside the exhibition events of Expo 2015, the local virtuous experiences would be fostered, in the perspective of Food Sovereignty and Food Security in favour of the population of Milan and Lombardia.

Expo could and should aspire to present a new perspective of balance between urbanization and agriculture, able to assure a balanced and nature respecting food production. A perspective based on ancient and traditional knowledge, but also on new governance of the land and on a fair and sustainable technological development.

The 2015 appointment should see our city, our Country, as aware protagonists of a fair “guidance role” towards the change of our lifestyles and production, consumption and mobility habits, starting from the analysis  and evaluation of each territory needs, aimed at promoting the civil progress, reducing disparities, conflicts and poverty. In this process it is important to strengthen the role of cooperation among peoples, of environment safeguard, of gender equality, of networking among women of North and South, but also of education, culture, sport and social promotion, too often not kept into due consideration as development and cohesion key factors.

Signed by (in alphabetical order):

Acli, Acra –Ccs*, ActionAid*, Africa 70, Agesci Lombardia, Agices*, Aiab Lombardia*, Ai.Bi*, Alma Rosé, AMREF*, ARCS-ARCI*, ARCI Nazionale* e Arci Milano*, Aspem, Ass. Arcobaleno*, Ass. Axè*, Ass. Comitato Italiano Contratto mondiale Acqua*, Associazione Italiana Insegnanti di Geografia – sez. Lombardia*, Associazione per il Parco Sud Milano, Associazione Parco del Ticinello, Avsi, Campagna Italiana per il Sudan, Caritas Ambrosiana, Cesvi, Chico Mendes*, CIAI- Centro Italiano Aiuti all’Infanzia, COE*, CoLomba – Cooperazione Lombardia*, Coordinamento La Pace in Comune (gather together more than 30 municipalities from MI and MB), Coordinamento Soci Lombardia – Consorzio CTM Altromercato*, COSPE*, COSV, Coop. Cambiamo*, Cooperativa Famiglie Lavoratori*, Deafal*, DESR Brianza*, DESR Martesana*, FLARE, Fondazione L’Albero della Vita, Focus Puller*, Fondazione Aiutare i Bambini*, Fratelli dell’uomo*, GVC*, Giornale Vita – Campagna “Sulla fame non si specula”, Humana Italia, IBVA*, Intervita/WeWorld*, IPSIA-ACLI*, Iscos Cisl*, Istituto Oikos*, L’Africa Chiama*, Legambiente*, Link 2007, Mani Tese*, Medici Volontari Italiani Onlus, Nexus*, Nutrire il Pianeta è nutrire la Pace- Rete territoriale Cremona*, Nonsoloparole, Oxfam Italia*, Pax Christi*, PIME*, Reseau International Urgenci, Save the Children, Soleterre*, Slow Food*, Tavolo attori sovranità alimentare, PASM (Ente Parco Agricolo Sud Milano), Città/campagna (Politecnico di Milano), Tavolo Res Italia*, Terre di Mezzo*, Vis*, WWF Italia*.  
 


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