Agriculture, Land and Rural DevelopmentFAOCSDUNEP
World Summit on Sustainable Development, South Africa 2002

Message 9

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From: "RIO10-Moderator" 
Subject: Message 9 - Contribution from Ryan Curtis
Date: Thursday, March 08, 2001 7:11 AM

Hello to all,

My name is Ryan Curtis and I am Chairman of GAIA-The Foundation for
Sustainable Development, an environmental agency based in the London,

The Foundation co-ordinates and implements a range of economic,
environmental  and social initiatives based on Sustainable Development
strategies in partnership with other agencies, govt departments, etc - often
under the banner of Local Agenda 21. GAIA integrates the social,
environmental and economic aspects of SD in order to deliver programmes
that, at one and the same time, protect the environment, advance education,
promote health and relieve poverty.

Before I go on to actually address the specimen questions I would like to
make a quick comment on some of the content of COAG/01/7: The place of
agriculture in Sustainable Development - The way forward on SARD.

Particular parts that I disagree with both personally and professionally are
contained in paragraphs 11 and 12 of section 2 - The evolving context for

"11.   ... Productivity can only improve with the introduction of updated
technologies, including the use of machines, improved plant and animal stock
or varieties, better crop and post-harvest care and, importantly, higher
investment and access to water."

The central ethos behind this statement is 'not' sustainable development, it
is profit maximisation which ignores the environmental and social
implications of SD.  The key to my thoughts on this is the knowledge that
food 'production' is not at the root cause of famine in places such as
Africa (for instance).  It is a problem of distribution, and of demographics
- there is ample food already - it is just in the wrong place. The 'use of
machines' entails the increased use of fossil fuels, improved plant and
animal stock probably entails GMO, higher investment and access to water
almost certainly involves ill considered irrigation projects. It is vital
that we understand that the reason why SD has not been embraced
wholeheartedly by the corporate, political or environmental groups is that
corporations -despite any protestations to the contrary are only concerned
with the 'bottom line', all CEO's have one eye on the next shareholder
meeting ... all politicians (and this is not offensive) are only interested
in projects which will mature just in time for the next election ... and
environmentalists usually view the economic aspects of SD as the ultimate

"12. ......... This, combined with trade and technological developments, can
lower the cost of trading and permit an agricultural surplus to be

In a nutshell this statement does not fulfil either the social,
environmental or economic criteria for SD.  It is solely about profit
margins, reducing costs, increasing production.


Ryan Curtis, Chairman
GAIA - The Foundation for Sustainable Development


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