Tag Archive: sustainability

Dec 04

A Sustainable and Future-oriented Economy can Only Exist in Harmony with Nature

When it comes to sustainable development, agriculture becomes increasingly important. Pesticides, chemical fertilizers and monocultures leave the soil depleted and low in nutrients. Thus, the conventional farming has reached an impasse. About seven billion people need to be fed sufficiently. A sustainable and future-oriented economy can only exist in harmony with nature.

Lebensbaum is a company producing coffee, tea, herbs and spices made of finest organic quality – for more than 30 years. We guarantee complete transparency of our supply chain. Our suppliers as well as ourselves make sure that natural resources and biodiversity are protected.

Organic farming means a closed loop system and, due to soil fertility and mixed cultures, it not only ensures stable yields but also stores carbon dioxide in the long term. Plus, it produces crops of first-rate quality.

Sustainability also demands an increase in productivity of organic farming. This is the reason why Lebensbaum invests in new areas to cultivate organic crops. Lebensbaum continues the idea of sustainability and enables as well as encourages its employees to participate in the topic.


Sep 24

National Organic Program, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests of Bhutan: Living Growth National Happiness

Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bhutan delivering the speech entitled “Living Growth National Happiness: Making a Full Policy Commitment to Organic Agriculture”

Sustainable Development as per its dictionary reads “a pattern of economic growth in which resource use aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in present but also for the generations to come”.

Rio+20 (United Nations Conference on sustainable Development) is a platform where initiatives to promote sustainable development are sought after for achieving a greener economy and a healthier and stable environment for all to live in. On that occasion, at the Opening Session of IFOAM Sustainable Development Learning Event at Rio+20 on June 19, 2012, the Prime Minister of Bhutan delivered a speech “Living Growth National Happiness: Making a Full Policy Commitment to Organic Agriculture”.

The first step towards official adoption of sustainable development strategy at the National level was instigated in Bhutan in the year 2004, with the embracement of Gross National Happiness (GNH) as the Nations Developmental indicator.

Here in Bhutan, our system of Sustainable agriculture includes different production methods, systems and approaches that aim to meet the goal of profitability, stewardship and quality of life as in accordance with the GNH principles.  One of such approaches, we feel, by no means the only one is ORGANIC FARMING. We are determined to make our agriculture genuinely sustainable through working with the nature to enhance rather then degrade, and to farm in such a way as to enrich rather then deplete soil nutrients.

The theme for our eleventh five year plan “Rural Prosperity” is in equivalence with the Rio+20 themes of Greener economy and Sustainable Development, where both are aimed towards the same target of achieving sustainable development and lifting rural people out of poverty.  As stated by our Honorable Prime Minister at the opening session of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (Rio+20), I quote” without food security there is no other kind of security. And without sustainable agriculture, there is no food security.” And I believe Organic Agriculture is the only means for sustaining agriculture and so all forms of life on earth.

We as Bhutanese strongly welcome and encourage more and more of such initiatives thus facilitating a happier life in harmony with our mother nature!

Thinley Gyem
Horticulture officer
National Organic Program, Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests of Bhutan


Sep 18

Canada Organic Trade Association: A guiding light

September 2012 will mark the 50th anniversary of Rachel Carson’s landmark book Silent Spring. In many respects, this book launched what is considered the modern environmental movement in North America. It was a catalyst to major changes in regulation, the government’s role in public and environmental health, and in many ways announced the birth, in earnest, of today’s organic community.

Pause and think a moment of this woman who made such fundamental change as a contrarian amidst the feverishly innovative and entrepreneurial post-war era, when the miracle of chemistry was being integrated into everyday life. She was in many respects a solitary voice, an outsider by her gender and strong conviction, and a questioner of how sustainable our decisions to date had been.

At the time of Silent Spring, we were on a long road to sickness: companies were advertising the uses of DDT to protect crops, livestock and even babies. Dairy cows and their feed were sprayed with the toxic compound. Children frolicked in the plumes of community spray-trucks. Families were sold DDT-laced wallpaper for their newborn’s bedroom to protect them from “pests.”

Today, some of our food is being impregnated at the genetic level similar pesticides— still “miracles” of science to save us from vague threats, and still questionable in their necessity or long-term sustainability.

This fall will also mark the 40th year of IFOAM, when a community came together of those who were unconvinced that chemical death-agents could sustain our life on the planet. These individuals helped shape the vision of an alternative system of organic agriculture and values, and how it could be practiced in nations all around the world.

Then, 20 years ago, we took a sobering moment in Rio to question what the future of our toxic and warming world might look like, and to try to shift it, collectively, to a more sustainable future. And then we returned again this year, with many great achievements to celebrate, but the conviction that more has to be done to truly make a difference.

50 years, 40 years, 20 years ago: major milestones on our road to sustainability. So what will this year bring—will California choose to label GMOs and by so doing help shape the continent? What will we see in five years’ time—will organic agriculture prove its resilience and restorative qualities in a world of unpredictable and extreme weather shifts? And what will we realize in the next 50 years that will ensure our descendants can enjoy the same gifts we were given?

That question is the same one that Rachel Carson faced in 1962: we each must internalize sustainability, we must question every day how the things we do, support, make, or buy either sustain or drain our world of its diversity and its life. This is a daily moment, and a personal one; but we are all, collectively, shaped by its outcome.

Matthew Holmes
Canada Organic Trade Association
Organic Week in Canada

Aug 24

Wolf + DiMatteo Associates: What are the lessons from Rio+20 and who will provide the leadership forward?

The lack of resounding endorsement from Rio+20 for sustainable agriculture and food systems will not stop us from moving forward individually and collectively, as we have been doing for 40 years, to put the principles of organic agriculture into practice and model the future we want.




What are the lessons from Rio+20 and who will provide the leadership forward?

As an outside but interested observer of the Rio +20 Summit – one who followed the blogs and news reports, and read the proposed language from NGOs, business, and governments, I was profoundly impressed with the level of preparation for and participation in Rio+20 and its side events.  The disappointment expressed about the final declaration was, in my opinion, amplified because of the high expectations going into the Summit.  From one viewpoint, Rio+20 was a success because of the fact that so many diverse opinions and perspectives came together with the hope of mapping out a way forward to a sustainable future.  Realistically there could not have been a truly revolutionary outcome because governments, and international bodies of governments, are rarely leaders of change.  Inspirational leadership, creative solutions, and risk-taking actions remain the role of non-government, public interest, or civil society organizations.  Rio+20 provided many of these organizations the opportunity to debate, negotiate and work on common ground, and to deliver unified messages.  The strength and presence of the NGOs, and even business groups, was well-reported during and after the Summit – another positive outcome!

But what happens now?  Will the NGOs, that were at Rio+20 and found like-minded partners, continue to work together to achieve the future that they had envisioned?  Will their collaborations begun at Rio+20 be short-term or long-term?  What lessons were learned about reframing discrete organizational interest areas to contribute to a larger sustainable vision?  How will these leaders leverage the relationships built at the Summit?  There haven’t been many answers to these questions since June, perhaps because organizational resources, personal and financial, are tapped out or time is needed for thoughtful reflection on best next steps. The Bonn Sustainability Days: Addressing Our Future Today, November 22-28th, organized by IFOAM may provide answers, but hopefully more – actions that we can take within our organizations and businesses as part of the global movement to shape an equitable, resilient, diverse, and sustainable world.

Katherine DiMatteo
Wolf, DiMatteo + Associates

Aug 03

Biovision Foundation: We can work with the Rio+20 outcome

Interview with Dr. Hans Rudolf Herren, Winner of the World Food Prize, Founder and President of the Biovision Foundation

The final declaration of the Rio+20 conference has drawn a lot of criticism from the media and from NGOs around the world. It is widely seen as a toothless document that does not really address the world’s problems and allows big business to continue to exploit the planet. Biovision’s media releases from Rio have been much more positive – how come?
Of course it would have been better if the declaration had been more specific with regard to setting goals now, time frames in which they should be achieved and appointing international bodies to oversee and, if necessary, enforce these processes. But the decision to establish an inclusive and transparent intergovernmental process on sustainable development goals by the end of 2013 goes some way in that direction and will help to move us beyond the Millennium Development Goals and guide the Green Economy into a true three dimensional approach involving the environment, society and the economy. This also has relevance for agriculture.
But it is also true that with regard to the over-exploitation of marine and forest ecosystems the declaration reflects an irresponsible and ignorant attitude. However, in the current world economic climate that was never going to happen. No one was prepared to bear more costs or agree to measures that might restrict growth.
However, it could have come much worse. Some proposals for the text meant an actual step back from standards that had been set well before Rio+20, such as people’s right to clean water and sanitation which was to be worded much more vaguely. Pressure from some countries prevented these setbacks.
I see the glass as half full and believe some passages form a good basis for progress towards a sustainable future.

The push for a more sustainable agriculture being one of them?
Yes, one such area is sustainable agriculture and food systems, where the Biovision/Millennium Institute team had been active for about a year ahead of the conference. With the help of a number of like-minded allies, such as NGO’s and delegations committed to sustainable development, in particular the Swiss one, we managed to get much of our wording into the final text. So we are very pleased that the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) has been charged with supporting country led efforts to guide the transition to sustainable agriculture. The CFS will model its support after the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) and, most importantly, the CFS will follow a multi-stakeholder procedure, which includes not only representatives from governments, business and science, but especially includes representatives of the farming community and civil society.
This is a great basis on which Biovision and its partners can build to advance both, the agriculture and food system transformation projects on the ground and at policy level in our focus countries in Africa.

But did you not want more from Rio+20?
Yes, with respect to agriculture the words ‘transformation’ or ‘transition’ of global agricultural policy that we had proposed on the basis of the IAASTD report were dropped. For example, we would have welcomed some firmer commitments to supporting smallholder farmers and granting land rights – particularly for women, who are the majority of these farmers who are denied such rights in many countries.
I also missed a sense of urgency from political leaders. The IAASTD report clearly stated that business as usual is not an option – and the report was published in 2008. We simply cannot afford to lose more time!
 Nevertheless, our position and that of the people we work with on the ground has been strengthened. This is a process that involves many interests and we think that we’re at least heading in the right direction.

And what about agricultural policies and the interest of big agricultural business?
We certainly weren’t the only ones, lobbying before and during Rio+20. Big business still would like everybody to believe that only huge mono-cultures and the massive use of genetic engineering, fertilizers and pesticides can feed the world.
But the IAASTD report clearly came to the conclusion, that this goal can only be achieved with sustainable agriculture, based on smallholder farmers who already produce 70% of the world’s food. And with the world population due to grow beyond 9 billion by 2050, we cannot afford the ill-effects for the environment as a whole, the destruction of fertile soils, the huge waste of food and the social repercussions caused by the methods used by industrial agriculture. Not to mention the speculative nature of food trading fostered by these companies to maximize their profits.
We did feel in Rio that our view is becoming more and more accepted. But the fight must go on.

Where else could you get support for your fight?
One important player in this field is the consumer. An important point also addressed in the declaration. Unless we learn to shop more responsibly, realise that one calorie of meat requires seven calories of grown food and immense amounts of water to produce, we will be even less able to nourish the growing global population.
And today we accept that nearly one billion people are suffering from hunger. At the same time over a billion are obese, courtesy of cheap, processed food. With the growing middle classes in the emerging economies, this problem is going to get much worse if we do not get through to the consumer with these messages.

And then you have UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon’s Zero Hunger Challenge…
Yes, Ban Ki-moon’s vision presented in Rio that not a single person should go hungry in our world of plenty lends strong support to our position. We can even take some credit for this initiative, as it largely reflects the outcome of a High Level Roundtable that we organized in March in New York on this very subject.
Ban Ki-moon stressed the need for sustainable food systems everywhere and demanded greater opportunities for smallholder farmers given their great share in the world’s food production. His office has been very supportive of our initiative to place sustainable agriculture higher on the agenda of Rio+20. Overall, we had support from many quarters, some of it we had not expected; another reason why my overall assessment of Rio+20 is largely positive and I think we can really work with these results.
One very positive experience in Rio was the constructive cooperation with other NGOs, delegations and representatives of the private sector. So we invite all like-minded and concerned people to join our efforts. Especially the private sector is welcome to sit down with us to seek solutions for making this world a better place, not just for now, but for our children as well.

Biovision Foundation for Ecological Development, Switzerland

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