Milan - The Italian Agency for Development Cooperation has always considered the issue of Food Safety and Nutrition an operative priority, not least because of it being one of the most important and transversal goals of the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The second of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 2) focuses on combating hunger and all forms of malnutrition, and on universally guaranteeing access to healthy and adequate nutrition by 2030. Food insecurity, which currently afflicts 800 million people, is deeply connected with the limited availability and accessibility of food products in both urban and rural areas. This is why long-term global actions are urgently needed, in order to overcome the structural challenges that generate food insecurity and malnutrition. Hence the crucial importance of coordinating and integrating all the efforts of all sector players, both public and private, in the implementation of the SDG2. This goal must be achieved by increasing general awareness of the huge problems involved, and the responsibility that all sector operators have: to work towards a common goal, stimulating productive investments consistent with development targets and with the "Principles for responsible investments in Agriculture and Food Systems"... while also encouraging the adoption of innovative solutions.
This is why, during the "Seeds and Chips" event, AICS and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation proposed the creation of "2gether", a platform that will aim at integrating different forces, creating partnerships, sharing needs and knowledge, spreading investment opportunities, strengthening Italy’s contribution to achieving SDG #2 and establishing a systematically shared vision.
"It would be the first time - explains the head of AICS institutional relations, Emilio Ciarlo - that Italy adopts this operational tool, allowing Italian Cooperation to play the role that Law 125 assigns it, namely to channel and organise those who contribute ideas, requests, commitment and resources, in order to build and implement more coherent and effective development projects. This will benefit the creation of positive synergies between the actions of various actors, thus resolving various gaps and weaknesses.” These include:
• A fragmented context which is unable to elaborate concrete projects on food and nutritional safety in a coordinated and coherent way, in line with the priorities of national institutions, the 2030 development objectives and the financial instruments offered by various donors;
• Insufficient circulation of the information necessary to create better connections and synergies between the different operators and especially between the Italian private sector and developing countries, civil society organisations, donors, national institutions and research bodies, in order to establish a more structured interactive environment.
• Poor connections between the know-how needs of food producers in developing countries and the offer of innovation and development, both locally and from Italy... the latter offering countless sustainable technical solutions for quantitative and qualitative production improvements;
• The absence of an internal AICS instrument for harmonising and guiding the actions of Italy’s national food and nutritional safety System.
The specific aims of the new platform are:
• To create a systematic framework for Italian operators (university and research bodies, civil society, the profit sector, local bodies) with skills related to food security and the agro-food supply chain, ensuring not only the exchange of information but also the mapping of the potential that these agents can offer to answer the needs of local territories in developing countries, coordinated by AICS. At the same time, to study the precise requirements and/or needs of the stakeholders involved, in coordination with the Italian institutional landscape.
• To provide centralised coordination at an AICS level for systematising information and input from territories abroad and transmitted by AICS field offices, particularly concerning the needs of these territories related to improving the efficiency of agricultural systems.
• To promote, via the identification of pilot cases, opportunities for partnerships and collaboration between the public sector, the profit sector and civil society. This will aim to develop local contexts or co-develop the local private sector, by jointly identifying and grouping the main production systems, always exploiting Italian skills and know-how.
• To promote social awareness, broadly speaking, of food and nutritional safety among the stakeholders of profit enterprises, through the dissemination and implementation of the Principles for responsible investments in Agriculture and Food Systems;
• To facilitate the encounter between supply and demand regarding innovative solutions and sustainable technologies, involving both local and Italian research systems, which can contribute to the resolution of concrete problems involving the pertinent supply systems.
In order to support the Platform, an online tool will be set up to enable the collection and exchange of information and strategies among all the operators involved.
There are many areas where it is particularly urgent to act upon achieving SDG2: social inclusion and the role of women in the agricultural sector and in food production systems, the definition of an approach centred on the needs of different communities and on national nutritional policies, the boosting of research and development into more sustainable and resilient agriculture, the commitment to increasingly precise and efficient data collection, and the increasing involvement of the private sector and civil society.
The platform will be managed by the Agency, which will set up a coordinating structure for the activities of each project and the related Platform, where necessary drawing upon highly qualified and diversified external services, in accordance with current legislation. As emphasized, the platform will bring together actors from the most diverse backgrounds, focusing on the common goal of achieving SDG2, and identifying the priority countries for intervention and cooperation. It should be underlined that better coordination and dialogue between the various bodies involved will lead to greater efficiency and effectiveness in the activities of the entire Italian development cooperation system, thanks to the creation of complementarity and synergies.