UNESCO World Forum will meet in Parma on “Culture and Food: Innovative Strategies for Sustainable Development”

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PARMA, AUGUST 24 – Culture and food stand at the crossroads of tradition and innovation. Organized by UNESCO in collaboration with the Government of the Italian Republic, with the support of the Emilia Romagna Region and the local Municipality, the upcoming World Forum on Culture and Food will analyse the linkages between food, culture and society, as well as the evolving landscape of food security and food systems, and their pivotal role for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  The Forum will meet September 12 and 13 in Parma, the home of prosciutto and Parmigiano and the first UNESCO Creative City for Gastronomy.

The forum will bring together over 150 participants – including practitioners, international experts, government representatives, IGOs and NGOs – to explore innovative pathways to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals through panel discussions. Among the themes that will be debated, “Cultural Heritage and Food: the foundations of cultural identity”, “Education and sustainability: vocational training and new jobs”, and “The example of UNESCO Creative Cities of Gastronomy”. The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN), set up in 2004, is a platform to promote cooperation between cities that have placed creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans at the local level. The 180 Cities that currently make up this Network have opted to pursue cultural policies based on seven different areas of creativity, one of which is gastronomy, gathering 26 cities, including Parma.

Food has always shaped our relationship to our environment, from the first agricultural communities to the fully-fledged industrial societies of the twenty-first century. Transmitted from generation to generation, the long-established processes of food collection, preparation and service are part of our cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible, and are a source of cultural identity and pride, where each cuisine reflects a unique history, lifestyle, values and beliefs. Yet culinary practices have not remained static. Instead, they have crossed continents and acted as gateways to cross-cultural dialogue.

Nowadays, food culture continues to spark encounters, communication and exchange, adapting and innovating, states UNESCO in a concept note ahead of the event. Cities today are living environments, where traditions, cultures and behaviours influence one another, where intangible cultural heritage and creativity blend to give birth to new social practices around food. Popular media also sparks new ideas around food, healthy lifestyles and local produce through a multitude of food blogs, culinary festivals and celebrity TV chefs.

Food culture can provide solutions for the overlapping challenges of population growth, climate change, and offer a platform for dialogue in increasingly diverse societies. It provides inspiration to tackle challenges related to sustainable agricultural and fishery practices; education for behavioural changes and food security.  Promoting food diversity, behavioural change to ensure sustainable consumption and waste practices and lifestyles are key components of the global strategy to achieve the SDGs. (@OnuItalia)