How do we bring all communities together and re-start difficult conversations about our biggest collective challenges?
At 7pm on Friday 11 December, our global community will have either closed the momentous and game-changing deal to protect this planet for generations to come, or missed an opportunity to safeguard our environment – and with it, ourselves. As the world prepares for the 21st Conference of Parties in Paris – the latest high-level, United Nations conference on addressing climate change – breaths are already bated with anticipation for the breakthrough we all long for and need.
A new and more ambitious “Kyoto 3.0”. A pathway to sustainability.
On the other side of the planet – here in Melbourne – and on the same day, a team of 38 pro bono young thinkers and doers will launch a new international festival to celebrate our collective future and provide a much-needed platform for collaborative thinking and social change.
Focusing on the common link between climate change, global health, and social trust and connection, festival21 will be a massive, free celebration. Using something we all love, this all-day and evening event will talk about things many of us find hard to table. Focusing on solutions, creativity, the arts and bold changemakers, this is a day to remember the future we can achieve, and the power we possess on our dining room tables.
Food as a shared language and silver bullet to combat climate change, build community, and improve global health.
Emotive, universal, powerful – what and how we eat is actually a leading risk factor for disease worldwide - with 749 million people on this planet going hungry every night and a staggering two billion now overweight or obese. At the same time, food and the systems that produce and deliver our food now contribute almost 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions – more than land, sea and air transport combined. And about one in three mouthfuls of food – is thrown away.
The important point though, is that the reverse is also true.
A smarter food system can be our silver bullet for both planetary and human health. In a city that celebrates food – no matter who we are or our cultural background, food is something we can all share and all love. Food is a unifying factor in an increasingly fragmented world.
During a defining year for our planet and in just a few months, festival21 with a pro bono team and ethical, independent philanthropy has assembled an unprecedented festival of thinking – for the Melbourne and Victorian communities. A massive, free, one-day celebration, festival21 will take over the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre and serve a new course and an inspiring way forward – starting with our dinner plate.
The challenges are immense, but our solutions are within reach. We need a new narrative for addressing our biggest global challenges – and that narrative must be food.
The only question now is, will you join our table?
festival21 will see Julian Burnside cook live on stage with Stephanie Alexander. Joost Bakker talk sustainability and architecture. Erik Jensen reflect on the future of society and food. Live social enterprise crowdfunding for Melbourne’s changemakers. Mindful eating with 3,000 people. Kevin Sheedy sharing his secrets on building a team and National Geographic on the narrative of food systems. And more…
festival21 is a not-for-profit run by volunteers – backed by ethical philanthropic foundations. Book your free tickets at festival21.com.au/tickets.
Alessandro R Demaio is Founder of festival21 - leading a team of volunteers to deliver the 11 December event. This commitment is completely pro bono. This article is the viewpoint of Alessandro alone, and does not represent the viewpoint of the World Health Organization.
Authors: The Conversation Contributor