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Friday, April 28, 2017

A sweet experience: the Water and Food Award event 2010

Posted by steve on November 28, 2010

Professor Alfredo, photo Birger Pohl

I am just back from attending the Water and Food Award in Copenhagen. The event celebrated this year’s nominees for the most innovative, sustainable, replicable, community initiative to bring water and food security to an area.

And I just want to say it was one of the most amazing and sweet events I have attended for a long time. Perhaps it was the simplicity of the message: promoting solutions to ensure everyone goes to bed on a full stomach. Perhaps it was the expression that the basis of the award is a heartfelt response to a basic need. It may be that security of food means people can concentrate on building prosperity and peace in the world. Perhaps it was simply that people with a genuine sense of humanity met in the same room

The event opened with the founder Tina Lindgreen giving her perspective: we can align our attitude with our heart and the actions will follow. That we should carry the vision of water and food for all and focus on what works.

I followed with a talk on what the Award sees as the challenge of sustainability: keeping people fed in a context of land degradation, fossil fuel shortages, urbanisation, the lack of community cohesion and the challenge of aligning our finance system with the need to ensure we live in a mature ecosystem. (Slides and soundtrack here).
The situation really does not look good, and I think I managed to convince a good proportion of the audience that land erosion, growing population and diminishing fossil fuel and other resource supplies means we need to be looking now for solutions if we are to avoid a crisis not only in developing countries, but in our own.

We then heard from the main sponsor, Bayer CropScience represented by their CEO from the Danish headquarters, Ernst von Frank.

It was wonderful to hear Ernst’s perspective: that business is about making profits whilst supporting and stimulating a healthy environment and prosperous society. As he said, the business case supporting the water and food award is natural for an agricultural company like Bayer: as food security comes to an area, and prosperity grows, so does the potential market.

Dr. Pierluigi Orati-Journalist and CSR Consultant finished off the series of presentations with an appeal for the business community to go from a locust mentality of take-make waste to a honey bee attitude of borrow- use- return.

See his presentation here

Finally, aided by Dr Alfredo Opubor I presented the nominees.
Each initiative, one after the other, gave us reasons to hope:
Sadhana Forest gives us, among other things, hope that we can reach the heart of volunteers and engage them to turn barren land back to being fertile.
Solvatten showed us that it is possible to use just the power of the sun to produce pure water from badly-contaminated sources.
The Hunger project showed us that we can engage the community, that they can come together around a common vision to solve water, food and sanitation challenges.

Ecotact Ltd, showed us that it is possible to recycle human waste to a valuable resource and change peoples attitude to sanitation. Reducing diseases and recycling waste drive prosperity.
The Permaculture Research Institute shows us with their initiative how it is possible, using advanced design practices and knowledge, to green the desert and to disseminate the skills to others.

It was wonderful to be able to sit and hear how the growing sense of concern for sustainable development is also bringing people together from different walks of life, young and old, to just work together to get the job done and to do it with respect for people’s dignity.

This atmosphere carried over to the second part of the day, with the innovation workshop and award ceremonies, but that I the subject of my next blog.

If the national economy were run as a football game…

Posted by steve on November 16, 2010

The modern economy has undoubtedly given millions better lives.

However, despite years of experience and development of macroeconomic theory, despite decades of Nobel prizes in Economics, there still doesn’t appear to be a way to run an economy without putting severe hardship on a large percentage of the population.

And this state of affairs is generally accepted.

Especially women, wives and mothers. It is women who end up suffering take from this hardship.

The other thing that I know that women particularly care about is the environment. Again, it is also generally accepted that pollution is unavoidable and depletion of natural resources the unavoidable price for economic stability. The costs of pollution and depletion are not paid for directly by the producers or consumer, but by society as a whole. They are called externalities. Externalities, it seems, are unavoidable if we want a stable economy.

But let us not just give in. Let us look at possibilities. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

The world may be smaller than you think. This is why we need to invest in securing land.

Posted by steve on November 10, 2010

  • There are total 14.8 billion hectares of land on the surface of the Earth
  • Only about 30% is inhabitable
  • There are 6.8 billion people on the planet
  • That gives 0,65 hectare per person to live on
  • 10% of land is arable (of that only a quarter is cultivated today)
  • That gives about 0.2 hectare per person to grow crops

To give you an idea of a hectare, (ten thousand square meters) see this picture below.
This running tack is 400 meters around on the inside. The straight sides are 100 meters long.
The grass on the inside is about 0.95 hectares.

0.2 hectare is about one large allotment or two small ones.

If we club together, land for a village can cost between say 4000-14000 Euro per hectare.
Just an investment of 400 Euro can secure as much as a tenth of a hectare to be stewarded sustainably for coming generations or as a lifeboat for yourself.

Think about it! Discuss it here and at your local Open World Café.

THE ULTIMATE ROLLER COASTER RIDE: A Brief History of Fossil Fuels

Posted by steve on November 9, 2010


Thanks to the Post Carbon Institute for putting this together!

Invitation to the Water and Food AWARD EVENT

Posted by steve on November 1, 2010