What is our place in the food system?

Louise Fresco shares her vision for our future food system – probably closer to reality than either the fossil fuel dependent industrial or the local organic model. Just does not feel as good as the local, organic vision!

It makes sense to assume that our future food needs are met by a system that lies between those models, that we will use technology (including biotech) as much as we can within the bounds of what is healthy for us humans and the environment. And she certainly has a point, when arguing that we cannot expect poor people to continue spent all their time to meet their food needs often using nothing but their hands, when we only have to go to the supermarket after work to buy what we need thanks to mechanized agriculture.

A great quote that is also shared on the TED site: “There is no technical reason why we could not feed a world of nine billion people. Hunger is a matter of buying power, not of shortages.” –Louise Fresco, NRC Handelsblad

When will we, finally, see investment in alternatives to flying?

After a couple of weeks break from blogging and work, I am back in my “office” catching up on messages, chats and emails. I am sitting on a hotel balcony with an amazing view:

Praia em Barra

It is great to be here, but getting here was a torture. Flying has become a real drag. I was used to unfriendly ground staff, chaotic airports, overly long security lines, vendors ripping you off etc. but must have blocked it out as I was really surprised about how bad one can treat their customers, yet expecting them to return. I was also reminded that I have to try out other ways of getting around: a 6 hour bus ride might actually be better and more comfortable than an hour flight! It certainly is better for nature!

The worst part is that as a customer depending on flying (long distances) you do not have a choice but to return. Why does nobody fill this customer service void? Why is there not more investment in alternative modes of transport such as fast trains that are less problematic for the environment?

Leading and being lead

Holger posted a summary of a presentation on Unfolding Individual & Collective Potential in Corporations by Jascha Rohr (@jaschrohr) at the Berlin Hub: We are in the middle of a process of accelerating change that will redefine much of our lives and Jascha’s presentation looked at the implications of this change for organizations. The new type of organization he sees emerging is one in which, “everybody can and will lead and everybody can and will follow in different phases.

In a post reviewing a new book called Herd, Sean Howard asks why we focus on the so-called influencers or celebrities as role models and leaders instead of realizing that “the reality is we follow the majority and we follow our friends.”  Holger cites an article on Swarm Theory to show that there may be no leaders, but each bee simply copies the behavior of the neighbor. And as Sean writes: “[F]rom this simple copying emerge complex systems or ecologies of behavior.”

Along the same logic, Lewis Wolpert, Emeritus Professor in Cell and Developmental Biology at UCL, insists in the BBC’s The Forum,  that cells do just fine without a command structure, suggesting this seemingly chaotic principle of organizing does not just apply to bee or ant colonies, or human herds, but that it is the fundamental principle of building any complex system, including human beings.

Does this mean that anyone can be the leader at different times, or that there are simply no leaders?

Can mining be sustainable?

Via IISD’s SD-list, I just came a cross a very interesting book about a sustainability project by Alcoa. Given the reputation of the mining industry with regards to environmental stewardship, respect for local communities and transparency, the claim to develop a sustainable local development process raises suspicion. From a quick read through the report, it looks like this project does take a new approach with regards to the social integration and transparency:

There is the license issued by the proper authorities, and this is very important. But just as important, or perhaps even more so, is the license to operate that is granted by the local community, because this is where you’ll be living each day. (…) The operation is fundamentally integrated into community and at any time,  if the community does not grant us its license to operate, it can halt production, whether on the railroad, at the port or in the mine itself.

It is great to see that a mining operation has sought to build a very inclusive and long-term partnership including the local community, civil society, government and researchers. The following are a few questions that came to mind reading the report. The process seems to still be ongoing and parts of the model are not yet implemented, but it promises to be a great experiment that might be able to serve as a model for other companies to do business differently.

Continue reading

Policy Brief: Global Green Deal and Sustainable Development

The United Nations Department of Economics and Social Affairs – Division for Sustainable Development (DSD) has released the policy brief A Global Green New Deal for Sustainable Development:

The Global Green New Deal (GGND) would be part of the broader counter-cyclical response to the crisis and comprise three main elements:

  • Financial support to developing countries to prevent contraction of their economies. (…)
  • National stimulus packages in developed and developing countries aiming at reviving and greening national economies. (…)
  • International policy coordination to ensure that the developed countries’ stimulus packages not only are effective to create jobs in developed countries but that these will also facilitate generating strong developmental impacts in developing countries. (…)
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]