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Our world, our future – Expo Milano and the European Year for Development 2015

Written by Astrid Klaver and Tessa Tumbrägel

Nearly a billion people around the world live in extreme poverty and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) estimates that 805 million people are chronically undernourished. These pressing issues are addressed at Expo Milano – which opens today – and in the context of the European Year for Development 2015.

‘Feeding the planet’ – Expo Milano 2015

Children fighting for an orange

© Jasmin Merdan / Fotolia

The World Expo has come to Italy and the food-loving country has themed it ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’. Opening today, 1 May, 145 countries will contribute to the six month exhibition, putting the spotlight on food traditions and innovations, but also on food security, intending to make a lasting contribution to the global debate on how to feed the world. Balancing the need for food and the resources available will be one of the main challenges addressed at the Expo. The European Parliament has adopted a Resolution on Milano Expo 2015: Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life on 30 April 2015. It urges the Commission to make the most of the opportunity provided by the Expo and encourage practices that ultimately increase global food security.

The EU is present in Milan with its very own pavilion and will host over 200 conferences relating to policy and science. Seven main research challenges will be highlighted, ranging from food safety and food waste to sustainable rural development and intensification. Concerning these topics, the EPRS’s own Scientific Foresight unit (STOA) has already published a study on Sustainable management of natural resources with a focus on water and agriculture (2013) and a series on Technology options for feeding ten billion people (2013). Members of the EP’s STOA Panel will be present at Expo Milano to contribute to the ‘Towards a research agenda for global food and nutrition security’ conference on 8 May.

Find out more about Expo Milano in our keysource.

Europe gets involved – the European Year for Development 2015

Feeding the planet

© elaborah / Fotolia

Expo Milano and its focus on food security also fit in the frame of the European Year for Development (EYD) 2015. In line with the motto ‘Our world, our future, our dignity’, the EYD aims at raising awareness among EU citizens and stakeholders and fostering more involvement in development cooperation.

2015 is a landmark year for international development cooperation, as it is also the year of expiry of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), necessitating that the international community negotiate a post-2015 development agenda for poverty eradication and sustainable development. As the world’s leading contributors of development aid, the EU and its Member States closely follow and help to shape these changes, while also taking the EYD as an opportunity to reflect upon Europe’s role in the world and finding ways to make EU internal policies more coherent with development objectives. Shortcomings in the EU development framework revolve around such issues as ‘aid fragmentation’ and the challenge of intra-EU coordination. A 2013 Cost of Non-Europe report estimated that about €800 million per year could be saved by coordinating donor activities and aid allocation more efficiently.

EYD 2015 offers a great opportunity to showcase the EU’s contribution to supporting development in such areas as education, health and the empowerment of women and girls, who are disproportionately affected by poverty and exclusion. Parliamentary support and scrutiny is an important (and well-documented) element. The EP, for instance, played a leading role in initiating the EYD and has made it one of its communication priorities.

It will be the highlight of this year’s Open Doors Day of the European Parliament and of the other EU institutions, which are themed around the topic of development cooperation. Learn more about how EU development policy works, what partners and projects are involved and what role the Parliament plays, for as long as the doors are open on 2 May in Strasbourg and on 9 May in Brussels and Luxembourg.

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