28 October 2019

Fight climate change with your fork

Until recently, most private foundations ignored climate change. Rather, they preferred to combat its negative effects such as migration and health care. This is useful, but it left unanswered many of the Big Questions about the cause of climate change.

This neglect must end. Our foundation, the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition, is devoting its energy to combatting the harmful impact of how the food that we eat affects not only our own health but also the planet’s health.  We need to feed a growing global population while confronting climate change. This represents an enormous challenge.  While more than 820 million people still do not have enough to eat, almost the same amount are obese. We waste one-third of global food production.

It is clear then that food is part of the problem. But food can also be part of the solution.

Too many people overlook the central role of agriculture. When we think about our planet’s rising temperature, most of us concentrate on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions from cars, trucks, and other machines powered by fossil fuels. These emission sources are worth our attention, yet there is another culprit which receives far less than it deserves: the way we produce, transform and consume food. Agriculture puts excessive pressures on the land, water and climate system – accounting for almost a third of greenhouse gas emissions.

Our food systems must be transformed and here not only business, but also philanthropy plays a crucial role and foundations are well positioned to help. Their research builds a new narrative around sustainable food policies.

The Barilla Foundation is in the front line. It is a member of the EFC’s European Foundations for Sustainable Agriculture and Food and the Global Alliance for the Future of Food.

The Barilla Foundation is committed to revive more sustainable and healthy diets. Its Food and Environmental Double Pyramid highlights the close links between nutrition and environmental impact. The Double Pyramid forms the basis of the traditional Mediterranean diet, with its emphasis on vegetables, fresh fruit, whole grains, legumes and olive oil.  Our Food Sustainability Index (FSI), is a collaborative research initiative with The Economist Intelligence Unit. It assesses how countries are moving forward toward food sustainability – or away from it. The better we eat, the better our diet is for personal and planetary health.  It is win-win. In addition, our most recent report, presented on the occasion of the 74th UNGA, entitled “Fixing the Business of Food – The Food Industry and the SDG Challenge” calls on the agro-food sector to align with the Agenda 2030 (discover more on www.fixing-food.com).

When running our company and the Foundation, my brothers and I remain inspired by a saying that our dad Pietro used a long time ago: “Give people food that you would give to your own children.”

All of us are involved. We must raise the emotional bar. We have to hurry up. Our Earth is burning.



Guido Barilla

Chairman, Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition Foundation (BCFN)