Terra Madre Youth - #WeFeedThePlanet – Day 4: The march on Expo2015

By Andrea Listanti

Youth power
Photo credit: Andrea Listanti
At Terra Madre Youth, we spent three days learning about agriculture and food production, listening to stories from rural people from all around the world, and sharing our thoughts with each other. On the fourth and final day, we brought our energy and our passion to Expo. Expo 2015 with the theme of "Feeding the world, energy for life" was the perfect venue to spread the word on food and agriculture. As youth, we feel responsible to advocate for a change. Our message was that a new, sustainable global food production system is possible and we need to work on it together.

In the spare minutes before the wrap-up meeting in the Auditorium, we took the opportunity to visit the Holy See pavilion. We entered a quite small and solemn square room, with images and videos on the walls and a long rectangular table in the middle. Pictures from different parts of the world showed the devastating impact of hunger, malnutrition and food waste. These pictures made a tremendous impression and made us reflect on the contradictions and inequalities of our world.

Photo credit: Andrea Listanti
Scenes of everyday life came to life when people got close to the rectangular table. A lady explained to us that the table would have lost its meaning without people. This was a profound message, as a table is where families come together to eat, it is a place where people come together to meet and interact with each other. We thought of the importance of food in this process, remembering when we had shared our lunch with our companions on the first day around a table, and we realized that if every pavilion had been like the one we were visiting, Expo would have been an even better experience.

At the wrap-up meeting, Carlo Petrini addressing the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Paolo Gentiloni said: “you have come to the United Nations of young farmers”. Then he gave us a fascinating explanation of the word “sustainability”: “it derives from ‘sustain’, which is actually one of the pedals of the piano. If you push it with your foot while playing, the sound lasts more. We want Slow Food’s activity to be long-lasting, and we want you to do better than the founders”. At the end of his speech, Petrini endorsed Alice Waters’ proposal to organize the first ever Terra Madre event in the United States, and announced the next Indigenous Terra Madre for 3-7 November 2015 in India.

Gentiloni was the last to take the floor. “The message of feeding the planet is extraordinarily political”, he said, and he underlined the connection between Terra Madre Youth and the COP21 Climate Conference which will be taking place in Paris in December 2015. “There’s a fil rouge linking these two events: the way we are going to feed the planet in the future depends on the way we will tackle challenges poses to agriculture”. In listening to his words, we hope that governments will also take into account the message we were trying to convey.

Photo credit: Andrea Listanti
At the end of the meeting, Joris Lohman, chief of the Slow Food Youth Network, led the final march. United, we "invaded" Expo grounds! We walked down the “decumano”, singing and showing our posters. And must say we felt very powerful, we thorough enjoyed the surprised look of Expo visitors.

For many of us, being on the frontline for four days as IFAD young delegates was the best training we could have received, and we hope that IFAD  will continue to create opportunities for the young people to be more and more involved in these kind of activities in the future.