Saturday, March 12, 2016

Inauguration of Sustenance: Chicago and the Food Chain

The Legacy of EXPO MILAN 2015 - Amb. Reeker’s Remarks at the opening of “Sustenance: Chicago and the Food Chain” exhibit
MARCH 11, 2016 
at American Corner Trieste / Associazione Italo Americana FVG

Welcome everybody. Let me begin by saying how happy I am to be here in Trieste.  This is my first visit to the American Corner Trieste.  The Consolato USA a Milano is so proud of you! We at the Consulate are so happy to work with you.  My appreciation goes to all the volunteers who devote their time, energy and talent to this precious space. I know that there are about seventy people who relentlessly endeavor to the many important cultural activities and initiatives and it’s an honor to get to know them personally today. A special thanks goes to Denise Tecchio, the wonderful coordinator of this institution. So, thank you dear friends of the American Corner.

I am also very happy that my visit here coincides with the opening of the exhibit Sustenance: Chicago and the Food Chain.

This exhibit was first brought to Milan during the Expo 2015 Milano, and was conceived and produced by Art Works Projects, a wonderful Chicago-based organization whose mission is to use design and the arts to raise awareness about human rights issues around the globe.

This exhibition showcases the urban food system in Chicago, Illinois, in America’s Midwest. In 1893, Chicago hosted one of the greatest world’s fair in history, the World’s Columbian Exposition, which marked the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the New World.

In just a few minutes, Michael Hrzic will talk to you about Sustenance: Chicago and the Food Chain and the Chicago gardens you will see in the photographs.

During the Expo, themes about feeding the planet, about sustainability, and about innovation, were discussed every day as part of Expo’s vitally important global platform, which itself was designed to overcome some of the same challenges being faced all over the world.

This exhibit serves to remind us that these universal challenges not only affect us all, but that each of us has a responsibility to be a positive link in the food chain.

The U.S. engagement in and around Expo was both substantive and successful.  Dubbed as the “intellectual pavilion,” the USA Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015 served as a global platform for issues raised by Expo’s compelling theme: Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.

U.S. policies, innovation, and leadership were presented on issues of food security; sustainability; food production and distribution; mitigating food waste; climate change and environmental issues; health and nutrition; clean water, and other priority topics of the Obama Administration.

At over 100 “Terrace Talks” on USA Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015’s rooftop, at special conferences, and in Expo-hosted symposia, American scholars, scientists, government experts, chefs, and even astronauts, provided diverse views, cutting edge technology, and some deceptively simple solutions—all with an eye towards feeding nine billion people by 2050.

Let me conclude by quoting U.S. Department of State Secretary Kerry when he visited EXPO. “...Food security is global security,” he said. “...and climate change is perhaps the most significant threat to global food security today...We consider the connection, between food security and climate change to be a central pillar of our foreign policy…”

“Here in Europe, we are in the middle of one of the worst refugee crises in decades. …the horrific refugee situation that we’re facing today will pale in comparison to the mass migrations that intense droughts, …and other impacts of climate change are likely to bring about…”

As John Kerry stood there, in the last month of Expo, he was already looking toward Paris, and the COP-21 environmental talks that, under the strong leadership of the President Obama’s Administration, would lead to the most sweeping global agreement to fight climate change in history.

“There is no question that the challenges that we are facing are significant,” Secretary Kerry said, in closing. “The United States stands ready to work with all countries. I think that the quality of the U.S.-Italy relationship today it’s never been stronger. We’re working so hard on so many of these challenges, and we will work together to guarantee that people will be able to live up to their fullest potential and live the strong and healthy lives that they deserve.”

So when you look at these photographs tonight, and think about the legacy of Expo, remember not only that food security, and climate change, and global security are tightly linked, but that these challenges that we grappled with for the six months of Expo, and through the climate talks in Paris, will continue, but that we will continue to make overcoming them a United States’ priority.
Thank you and enjoy the exhibition.

U.S. Consul General, Milan, Amb. Philip T. Reeker at the opening of the “Sustenance: Chicago and the Food Chain” 📷 exhibit at the American Corner in Trieste (March 11, 2016)

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