RegenerAction 2022: When digital is at the service of citizens' needs

📢 Faced with the challenges triggered by the pandemic and the current food, health and environmental crises, ensure a fair, equitable, inclusive and ethical digital transition is an undisputed priority.

❗ The pandemic has highlighted the many challenges that the world still faces: making the relationship between humanity and Earth more balanced and efficient, promoting forms of widespread and collective prosperity without leaving anyone behind, restoring the link between individuals and communities and between communities and territories, promoting greater transparency and trust. All aspects in which digital can represent an incredible enabling tool. The digital transition, whose scope and potential have been accelerated by the pandemic, is neither utopian nor the random result of the process of developing technology, but a path sought and desired for its countless benefits.

A digital world has the ability to offer services and opportunities to citizens and especially to those who are in inner areas or particularly far from historic centers, can increase resource efficiency and thus reduce the impact of humanity on Earth, ensuring greater transparency, decentralising the networks and giving its citizens and supply chains a voice.

In recent years, innovations in the field of digital technology have paved the way for several improvements, starting with the agricultural sector, where the potential of technology 4.0 shows its greatest benefits not only in economic terms and maximizing resources, but also related to human health and generated by sustainable, efficient and balanced processes . At the same time, the pandemic has highlighted the challenges that lie on the path of the digital transition, such as ensuring universal access to digital tools and data - crucial aspects to prevent the digital from becoming a vehicle of inequality, rather than connections.

According to ISTAT data, one family in three, in Italy, does not own a computer or tablet. The lack of adequate infrastructure to accommodate the new digital solutions and the high rates of digital illiteracy are real problems that stand in the way of the transition to a digital society. In our country, in fact, the 25% of Italians does not use the internet regularly, doubling globally, given that almost half of the world’s population is still offline. All these aspects are then added to the ethical issues related to the advancement of artificial intelligence and robotization, which inevitably alter the global labor market.

🇪🇺 Ensuring a democratic, inclusive and sustainable digital transition is an integral part of EU policy. In 2019, the new European Commission of Ursula von der Leyen has in fact inserted in the list of its six priorities the digital transition. The European Union looks to the world of digital, keeping the attention to the interests of citizens, giving concrete support to businesses and promoting, also thanks to the use of digital technologies, real environmental protection needed to ensure Europe’s climate neutrality by 2050.  Regulation and protection of digital data, artificial intelligence, digital identity and market policies are some of the issues on which the Union has worked in recent years to facilitate the transition to a digital and sustainable society during the so-called "digital decade". On 19 March 2021, on the occasion of the European Digital Day, the Member States of the Union have signed a joint declaration of commitment to accelerate the transition through a series of initiatives that reflect the objectives set by the Commission. Among the various initiatives promoted are, for example, the commitment to develop a digital model of the Earth, called "Twin Earth"able to predict the possible future scenarios of our planet, together with the design and production of eco-friendly products.

However, the digital transition must not only be close to the environment but also to citizens. It is in this perspective that events in favour of digital literacy, such as theAll Digital Weeka global event that aims to highlight the countless possibilities that the digital world can offer for European citizens. In fact, Innovation today consists of an increasingly essential digital part, as demonstrated by the many projects promoted by theEuropean Institute for Innovation and Technology (EIT) including, for example, the project DigiFresh, which uses advanced technologies to monitor food preservation status in order to improve product quality, reduce economic losses and food waste and increase consumer satisfaction

also in terms of Agriculture 4.0, the European Union is pressing and investing in the application of digital technology to modernize infrastructure by maintaining a constant dialogue with farmers and implementing new legislation and new criteria in support of Industry (and Agriculture) 4.0.

🌱 The Future Food Institute has been accompanying the European Union on this complex path of digital transition for years, promoting and investing in hybrid training modes (online-offline) through our Boot Camps and hackathon, where digital solutions serve real environmental problems.

For Future Food, in fact, digital is a means that stands and justifies through culture and people. The Paideia Campus in Pollica is the living example of the union between the digital and the human dimension. Exploiting the properties and values of the Mediterranean Diet, the project “Pollica 2050 – Mediterranean Living”, developed in collaboration with the Municipality of Pollica, aims to create a model of Integral Ecological Regeneration that can exploit dormant resources. In achieving this goal, accelerate the digital transition is no longer just the lever needed to achieve a true Green Deal, but also the appropriate tool to foster a cultural transition that can empower the community, maximise the potential of innovative sectors such as digital medicine and ensure transparency and security. Putting digital to the service of people means eliminating logistical and bureaucratic frictions and providing services that meet the real needs of citizens. In the current crisis situation, this also means taking action in the field of diplomacy and international cooperation. The design of new Peace Laboratory that will be developed on the Pollica campus in collaboration with Dot Academy aims to provide Digital training courses for young people and women fleeing the war in Ukraine to promote their integration in the local working world and within the community.

Culture is another complementary element to the digital transition. This is clear evidence the digital museum of the Mediterranean Diet that, thanks to the precious contribution of MedEatResearch, collects in digital form stories and memories of the territory related to the values and concept of the Mediterranean Diet. Future Food Institute is also one of the first companies to translate the potential of digital in the regeneration of territories, as demonstrated by the organization of Pollica Digital Week (between 25 and 31 March 2022) , which is part of the European All Digital Week and contains a series of training events related to digital innovation and its role in the cultural, economic and social recovery of the territory.

At present, Italy still has considerable room for improvement in its alignment with European strategies for the development and application of 4.0 technologies in the agricultural sector.  In this sense, the partnership with the program EIT Test Farmswhich connects European startups to local farmers' networks, is crucial to encouraging innovative processes. Through a process of mediation and prototyping in the field, the goal is to create a fertile ground for the development of technologies that can make the Italian agricultural landscape in step with the challenges that the ecological and digital transition pose.

As the protagonist of European change, digital will be the transversal theme of the agrifood Week events, but also vertical specific, as in the panel "Bridging the Digital Divide in Agriculture".

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