By Maged Srourl
ROME, Mar 9 2018 (IPS) – The agricultural sector in the Mediterranean Area is facing tough challenges and incredible opportunities at the same time: beyond a shadow of doubt, the farming sector is experiencing a critical time of change and transition towards a new era.
In collaboration with the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UN SDSN) and the SDG Academy the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (BCFN) has developed the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on “Sustainable Food Systems: a Mediterranean Perspective”. The BCFN is an independent multidisciplinary research center, with the purpose of providing people, institutions and media with “activities and scientifically robust analysis related to food and its relationships with societies and environment.”
This MOOC, which is ready to be launched on March 15, 2018, offers to those who will attend its ten modules, a series of pre-recorded lectures, readings, quizzes and discussion forums. It’s the first MOOC on Agro-Food challenges in the Mediterranean region for the promotion of Sustainable Development and of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
What is the MOOC about ?
The Online course aims to provide an overview on those challenges, in order to be used as an instrument and a roadmap for action and implementation of SDGs, with a specific focus on the Mediterranean basin.
The BCFN is a knowledge-hub that is helping advancelearning about how to save our Planet through the development and implementation of several practical tools such as the “Food Sustainability Index (FSI)” or through awareness raising initiatives such as the “Food Sustainability Media Award” and the “Food Sustainability Report” .
In addition to its independent activities, the BCFN’s MOOC as of March 15, 2018. Will offer the open-ended course with no closing date, providing a unique opportunity to gain knowledge from scientists, professors and top leaders and learn about fresh approaches based on their expertise and experiences on the Mediterranean region. The course is free of any fees.
The agriculture sector in the Med region is increasingly being threatened by several issues: overexploitation of natural resources, water scarcity and poor water management, unsustainable agriculture, food loss and waste, limited agricultural diversification, just to name a few. Therefore, this MOOC was conceived to address these issues and to serve as a guide or handbook of sustainable policies for the Mediterranean region’s people.
The course is for students, policymakers and stakeholders as well as current and future practitioners in the agriculture, food and beverage sectors. Participants may enrol any time after March 15, 2018.
Why so important?
The United Nations has been repeatedly warning that sustainable farming is getting more vital to the health of our Planet. While industrial agriculture has certainly many advantages, as it is highly productive and is able to produce a significant amount of crops within a harvest season, it also introduces long-term damages to the environment that can be solved only through sustainable practices.
While debating over these sustainable practices, experts acknowledge the importance of the vision of going “back to rurality” and “rediscovering traditions”. However, this revival of traditions should not be misinterpreted as an antithesis of innovation. Tradition and innovation are not two different visions of the world: we could consider them as both essential for each other. Indeed, before being considered as such, every tradition was an innovation (think of the printing or the Internet). Moreover, tradition is not necessarily equivalent to “old”: it means also learning from the past and renewing the access and use of those positive practices of the past. At the same time, innovation is not necessarily meant to be “new”: it is also about discovering, passion, enhancement and recovering.
The Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition, UN SDSN and the SDG Academy are working with regional, national and international actors to build the political and social architecture that is necessary to fulfil the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Students, policymakers and practitioners in the agriculture, private sector should seize the opportunity to gain valuable knowledge to meet Agenda 2030, such as those gaining from this forthcoming MOOC. Let’s all save the date: March 15, 2018.