The Mediterranean Diet Charter of Values

This lesson will discuss the Charter of Values for the Mediterranean Diet.

The Charter of Values is composed of two parts. The first part defines the Mediterranean Diet and addresses why it must be protected, while the second part is concerned with the ‘pledge’ or commitments which must be upheld by those who sign the charter.

The nomination for the Mediterranean Diet to be formally recognized and protected by UNESCO as intangible cultural heritage resulted from the collective effort of the countries of Italy, Spain, Greece and Morocco. The nomination was successful and UNESCO accepted the Mediterranean Diet as Intangible Cultural Heritage, pronouncing it ‘a set of skills, knowledge, rituals and traditions that encompasses every step from the fields to the table’. On December 4, 2013, the list of countries that officially represent the Mediterranean Diet was expanded to include Portugal, Cypress and Croatia, further emphasizing the importance of the diverse cultural dimensions of the Mediterranean Diet and lifestyle.

Upon UNESCO’s acceptance of the Mediterranean Diet, Italy, being a fundamental country for the Mediterranean Diet, immediately designed and enacted various measures aimed at safeguarding the Diet nationally and internationally. The Mediterranean Diet is an invaluable model not just in cultural and nutritional terms, but in environmental terms: it represents a sustainable way of producing food with minimal impact on the environment.

Each nation that UNESCO has recognized as representing the Mediterranean Diet must develop a plan of action in order to ensure that the diverse aspects of the Mediterranean Diet are passed on to younger generations, and to promote awareness of the Diet’s benefits and defining characteristics.

In order for it to survive and thrive in the future, the Mediterranean Diet must be protected and promoted, using the guiding principles outlined by UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage program and lead by the communities that represent the Diet, research centers and institutions, regional authorities and citizens in compliance with national and international regulations.

The second part of the Charter addresses the commitments that must be made by those who sign the Charter. The most fundamental commitment of participants who sign the Charter is to recognize the Mediterranean Diet as cultural heritage, to recognize the value of the Mediterranean Diet and recognize the fundamental role of the Emblematic Communities (communities selected to be the ‘face’ of the Mediterranean Diet and spearhead efforts to safeguard it) and support them.

Participants should also actively value and take advantage of the Angelo Vassallo Center for Studies of the Mediterranean Diet, which is not only a research center but also provides important training to citizens.

Participants should promote the cultural aspects of the Mediterranean Diet within the population as a whole but with particular focus on educating and involving the younger generations.

Participants should actively engage in events and activities in the realm of nutritional education, sustainable development, cultural material etc pertaining to the Mediterranean Diet.

Participants who sign the charter must collaborate annually with the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies, informing it of planned and already enacted safeguarding measures, as well as report any misconduct or exploitation of the Mediterranean Diet for commercial gains.

Finally, participants must follow any and all indications put forth by UNESCO regarding the use of the UNESCO logo and acronym.