Food sustainability and younger generation: future cooperation opportunities between Barilla CFN Alumni Association and ARCO

Posted by on Jul 25, 2016 in Blog | No Comments

The current food system is threatened in a number of ways and urgent action is needed to enable effective and positive progress towards sustainability. How to make good use of the huge potential of young researchers in this field and bring about change? The Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition (BCFN) Alumni Association is an active and committed community, in which ideas and resources are shared with the aim of contributing effectively to the development of a more sustainable food system. This is done in different ways, including the dissemination of the Youth Manifesto, a policy recommendations document with seven operational proposals from the point of view of seven key roles in the food system: policy maker, farmers, activists, educators, the food industry, journalists and researchers. This document is the result of the work that the BCFN Alumni Association did collectively, when its members gathered for a two-day workshop in Parma, Italy, in September 2015. The resulting document acts as a call to action targeted to all stakeholders of the food system. The Youth Manifesto has been presented to a number of institutions, including the Italian Minister of Agriculture and the European Parliament.

Given the existing similarities and synergies in the issues that are dealt with, Arcolab and the BCFN Alumni Association are discussing future cooperation opportunities. An even larger group of young experts could carry out research projects for the mutual benefit of the two institutions and disseminate the results in an even wider network. The future is full of possibilities when the younger generation joins forces to reach common goal.

The BCFN Alumni Association was established thanks to the efforts of BCFN towards the empowerment of the younger generation and their role as change makers in the food system. Since 2012, the BCFN Foundation organizes an international competition of ideas for the improvement of agro-food sector sustainability. Every year, 10 teams of up to 3 members each are selected as Finalists, and these become members of the BCFN Alumni Association. This year, the BCFN YES! competition is targeted to PhD and post-doc researchers, offering them a 20,000 euros grant for research on food sustainability issues . This year’s finalists in the YES! competition (who will join the BCFN Alumni) will take the stage during the next BCFN International Forum, which will be held in Milan next November 30th and December 1st.

Each of the BCFN Alumni is also acting as Ambassador of food sustainability themes, promoting the causes that are closest to them, participating to events and acting as a role model in their network of contacts. Currently, there are 85 BCFN Alumni based in all the five continents. As well as carrying out some research activities as a group, a few of the BCFN Alumni are now working as researchers for the BCFN Foundation and six of us act as Geographic Representatives for the corresponding six geographic areas (namely Europe, Asia, North America, South America, Africa and Oceania). The diversity in terms of cultural and academic background is what makes the activities of the Association multidisciplinary and multiculturally significant.

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