THE TIME FOR AN AGRICULTURAL AND FOOD TRANSITION HAS COME
(Intervention by Vicent Garcés, President of the MCA Foundation, to the Commission on Territorial Sustainable Development of the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM), in the online meeting held on the 29th October 2020)
The rich agricultural history and the diversity of food systems and patterns have allowed the blossoming of multiple civilizations across the Mediterranean. At present, the gastronomic diversity and the Mediterranean diet continue to be broadly recognised among nutritionists.
However, big distribution chains along with globalized, standardized agricultural products have gained ground. Today, the “globalized” ingredient outweighs the “territorial” one in the food system of Mediterranean peoples. Indeed, the current food system destroys more jobs than it generates, and distributes less income at a local level. It weakens development instead of promoting it. It impoverishes and indebts Mediterranean countries instead of enriching them.
The current food system has negative effects in social terms (increased unemployment in the local economies), environmental terms (pollution, biodiversity loss and soil infertility), and cultural terms (destruction of local cuisine and foodstuffs).
The agricultural and food system as a whole must once again become the main engine of respectful, inclusive, sustainable development in our countries. We must bring back the agricultural knowledge and expertise of our countries and respond to major contemporary issues, such as job creation, the fight against poverty, sustainable resource management, the fight against climate change and the preservation of our cultural heritage.
This agricultural and food transition compels us to fight for two interrelated causes. On the one hand, the battle for the “re-territorialization” of consumption, which is based on both the re-establishment of local distribution channels and the development of circular economies. On the other hand, the battle for the “agroecological transition”, which demands a change in the agricultural system.
All the above are issues we must address in order to hand down a tangible and intangible heritage which allows future generations to live with dignity.
The Mediterranean Citizens’ Assembly Foundation (FACM) has made its call for the agri-food transition in the occasion of the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which took place in Marrakech in November 2016.
We stress the need for solutions together with those who are already striving towards the agricultural and food transition in the Mediterranean. In this regard, all our countries count with pioneers who have already set in motion initiatives on durable, responsible food systems.
The MAC Foundation has taken part in study on “Tools for promoting territorialised food systems”, launched in 2018 by a group of Spanish and French entities with the aim to tailor a map of the best, 100 local and sustainable agri-food initiatives in Spain.
Lastly, we put forward a broad sample of hundreds of sustainable, responsible agri-food initiatives as a way to display the creativity and diversity of local solutions and to contribute identifying the transitional path to the new agri-food systems.
Valencia, 29th October 2020