MEDCOP Climate: focus on Workshop 5 on Food Security

Published : Thursday 28 July 2016

RESOLIS, the Unesco Chair on World Food Systems, IPEMED and ARF - which were involved in the organisation of the first Mediterranean Forum on Climate that took place on 4th and 5th of June in Marseille - wished to address, along with their Southern and Eastern Mediterranean partners, Solution n°16 of the MEDCOP21 Mediterranean Solutions Agenda. This Solution planned the creation of a knowledge database on territorialised food systems in the Mediterranean.

Workshop 5 was organised in the framework of the MEDCOP Climate that took place in Tangier on 18th and 19th of July and enabled to:

  • present the work called « Systèmes alimentaires territorialisés en Méditerranée - Initiatives pour une alimentation responsable et durable » [Territorialised food systems in the Mediterranean - Initiatives for responsible and sustainable food] with contributions from Spanish, French, Italian, Moroccan, Tunisian and Turkish experts;
  • assert our commitment to a transition towards more sustainable agricultural and food models, in collaboration with the Foundation Assemblée des Citoyens et Citoyennes de la Méditerranée that created a Declaration in this regard;
  • present specific cases and recommendations in order to help rural populations as well as agricultural and food systems face environmental, economic, social and political crises;
  • develop our initial project into a “Solution” that will appear in this year’s Mediterranean Solutions Agenda, that is creating a collaborative platform on Sustainable and Responsible Food Initiatives (SRFI) in the Mediterranean. Once existing initiatives have been listed and common topics have been identified, this platform could lead to the creation of a “Mediterranean products” label aiming to promote local products as well as the Mediterranean diet.

Detailed summary:

From SFRI demonstration to the necessity to improve agricultural “governance” in the Mediterranean

Via various contributions and exchanges with the public, this Workshop, organised on 18th July, enabled to highlight the importance of local products as a driving force to redeploy the Mediterranean diet in the Mediterranean. The profusion of SFRI in the region highlights the assets of “territorialised food systems” and the necessity to combine adaptation and mitigation for a sustainable intensification of Mediterranean agricultural systems. Following the speech of Dr Mrabet Rachid, Head of Research at INRA Morocco, Member of the COP22 Scientific Committee and Member of the IPCC in favour of “conservation agriculture”, Jean-Louis RASTOIN, Professor Emeritus at Montpellier SupAgro, Scientific Advisor to the Unesco Chair in WFS and IPEMED associate expert presented the three conditions that are necessary to the emergence of a “group of agricultural industries meeting sustainable development criteria, located in one regional space and coordinated by a territorial governance”: a “shift” from consumers, a mass involvement of producers and a commitment of institutions in favour of territorial food policies coordinated at the national and international levels.

These three conditions were illustrated by the speeches of:

- Irène Carpentier, a doctoral student and researcher at the IRMC of Tunis, under the direction of Alia Gana. From her field work on the promotion of traditional products in Gabès (dates, pomegranates, etc.), she insisted on the paradox of “deterritorialised” territorialised products meant for exportation - a production model that won’t be sustainable in the long term without the emergence of local demand;

 - El Houssein Erraoui, of Agadir University. In the line of Irène’s presentation, he supported the necessity to boost a consumption model based on local products - as did Morocco with the 2nd pillar of the Plan Maroc Vert [Green Morocco Plan] - before presenting the assets and constraints of TFS in Morocco;

- Selma TOZANLI of CIHEAM-IAMM. She presented Turkey’s experience in terms of geographical indication certifications, although the poor mechanisms of public and private controls lead to the imitation and falsification of many of these IG-certified local products, with a negative impact on both consumers and local producers;

- Benoît FAUCHEUX, President of the Sustainable Development Commission of the ARF. He highlighted the necessity to raise awareness in citizens regarding the benefits of the Mediterranean diet and the key role of regions to initiate and/or support the development of TFS.

These specific cases and the debates that took place during the second part of the Workshop, moderated by Alia Gana of IRMC, highlighted the necessity to improve the governance and structuring of agri-food industries and to develop an integrated approach as well as bottom-up perspectives of this sector in the Mediterranean.

Towards the emergence of a “Solution”: for a collaborative platform on Sustainable and Responsible Food Initiatives (SFRI) in the Mediterranean

Praised by the Workshop participants, the “Solution” in favour of the implementation of a collaborative platform on Sustainable and Responsible Food Initiatives (SFRI) in the Mediterranean is in line with the ISARD research/action Programme, led by the Unesco Chair on World Food Systems, Montpellier SupAgro, as well as the RESOLIS Program on Sustainable and Responsible Food, and more particularly the “SFRI” surveys carried out by RESOLIS in partnership with local actors. During the MEDCOP Climate, the public was offered to get involved in the “TFS” concept by carrying out and/or supporting the collection of samples of 100 “SFRI” in their home countries. Given the common challenges Mediterranean countries are faced with, identifying SFRI at the national and local scales would be a first step towards the creation of a collaborative platform dedicated to the region, before identifying relevant macro-regional and cooperation mechanisms. The objective being that the Mediterranean also benefits from the results from other parts of the world. In this context, the implementation of a “Mediterranean products” label, that IPEMED has been supporting since 2010, would be easier to initiate once this cooperation, awareness and collection effort has been accomplished.

Why this Solution and how to take part in it?

This solution relies on the promotion of the original sustainable and responsible food initiatives that were carried out, but also of the actors of the agri-food chain who initiate these projects, be they from the production, processing, distribution or consumption sector. The methodology selected to carry out this project relies on the idea that local actors can open paths and perspectives for the food and ecological transition (from grain to compost). These initiatives mainly rely on innovation, be it through the organisation of these actions - often as partnerships - or through their original way of reducing negative externalities or promoting positive, social, environmental, educational and cultural externalities.

In concrete terms, this solution would take the form of an open-access web platform enabling, thanks to a personal account, to register a Sustainable and Responsible Food Initiative under the form of two-page action-sheets (comprising in particular a contact point of the structure, the objectives, implemented actions and feedbacks). Each action-sheet will be completed by an interview with the project initiator(s) and can be accompanied with supporting documents (only non-confidential ones). The project will have to be ongoing or completed, the original and/or multi-partnership character of the project will be key and the initiatives with a high development or multiplication potential will be promoted.

In order to create these action-sheets, RESOLIS will put all the necessary tools at the disposal of account holders.

The redacted sheets will then be submitted to a platform manager collaborating with the RESOLIS program manager who will sort them according to:

- the food chain level,

- the type of project,

- the social, environmental, educational or cultural externalities they create (examples for each level: job creation or conservation, biodiversity preservation, all-public information or awareness, food heritage preservation),

- geographic location.

The platform manager will ask the project initiators to approve their action-sheets. Then, the sheets will be forwarded to a reading committee that will provide positive or negative feedbacks as well as “solutions”, after which the sheets will be published on the platform. Project initiators will receive an automatic email to inform them that their initiative has been published online. They will be able to amend their content at any time in the future.

The development of the platform would enable to suggest similar initiatives or initiatives carried out in the same country according to the targeted interests of the account holder who will submit their initiatives. Personal account will also enable to bookmark some specific sheets. Informative documents regarding current public policies as well as calls for projects or interests would also be made available in a specific tab (the content of which will be moderated by the platform manager) that would be open to all personal account holders. Involved actors will be able to communicate easily with one another and with the platform manager for any question or proposition.

Thus, the collaborative platform would become a real operational tool to identify micro and macro-regional tools. This solution would enable to broaden Mediterranean cooperation and encourage public and private actors to promote and support the development of TFS.

If you want to get involved in this adventure, you can contact RESOLIS, join our “consortium” and sign the Declaration of the Foundation Assemblée des Citoyens et Citoyennes de la Méditerranée.

Thank you to all the participants of the Workshop (to Professor El Khanchoufi, Dr Mouad Chentouf, Professor Kaid Youcel, Leila Akhmisse, Valérie Nicolas,Touriya Atarhouch, Annie Mellouki, Denis Carel, Morgane Iserte, etc.) and to our representatives before and during the MEDCOP Climate. May our collaboration on this beautiful project continue!

The organising team

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