We are entering a definitive decade to face challenges in the environmental, social and economic fields. For this we will have to move to a new model in accordance with the possibilities of the planet, where nature is key.
I’m in a transition, you are and we are. It seems that for a few months it has taken corporeal form. Sometimes we feel that the events that occur in reality happen in a synchronous path, there is no doubt about this. Thus, we reflect that the global confinement in which we have already spent almost a year coincides with the challenges that we are faced with in this decade: Climate change, the transformation of our production processes, the reduction of inequality, resource management in a growing world population. It is not yet clear to me if what I perceive is the product of my mind or if we all agree. Personally, it is clear to me that the transition is not based on moving from a world where we used to socialize, share experiences, jobs, sport events with neighbors, family and friends to one in which the streets are empty and only in sporadic moments can we see people covered with face masks. On the contrary, I do believe that it is based on understanding, on one hand, the primitive phase in which the world we have designed is and secondly, acknowledging the tools we have to transform it. We must make use of what has remained for billions of years on earth, which is life itself. We must use our intuition and our creativity. Our transformation must not only be external, but mainly and mostly internal. We must recognize that we are not the only ones who inhabit the earth and that unfortunately this planet is finite. Our habits must also change. Sometimes I feel deep inside that we are in a new stone age where we have everything to do, open to infinite innovation.
I speak to you from a biased perspective framed in the career path I took, and believe me, my own transition is not easy. More than anything, I am afraid of abandoning my own habits, based on the comfort that I enjoy: food 24 hours a day, a good salary, a car, a good career, travel, dinner with friends and the possibility of communicating. with anyone at a reasonable cost. I have worked in the agribusiness world for ten years, a sector that feeds a large part of the world’s population based on the cultivation, transportation and processing of raw materials such as palm, soybeans, wheat and corn. Advances in this industry during the 20th century have been wonderful and today it is practically possible to feed every human being at relatively low costs. However, not every story is perfect. Many of the agriculture of the modern eastern and western world are subsidized by their governments, whose agrarian policy must meet minimum demands from farmers. This means that production costs are not real and appear as competitive against alternative agriculture such as organic;most of these raw materials must be transported between continents increasing the carbon footprint;in several countries working conditions in the countryside remain informal and deregulated;the financial needs of growers are increasing; and finally, in order to meet the growing demand, we must increase productivity, for which we must use greater amounts of petroleum products such as gasoline, pesticides and fertilizers. Perhaps it is true what the author Mark Tauger (2011) indicates about the trap of modern agriculture: The more the population grows, the greater the requirements for food, for which we are forced to cultivate more, entering a circle without exit. The problem in this case is that the damage to arable land is now palpable, reducing future production capacity. I always think about this and I feel powerless to think of a model that reduces these problems for the welfare of the generations to come. Some initiatives such as permaculture and conservation agriculture have shown good results even when they fail to meet the problem of growing demand for food.
GreenRoad is precisely about that, how to come up with solutions that are inherently sustainable. Of all the sustainability models that I have been able to study to date, the one that most satisfies my internal questions is undoubtedly biomimicry. Perhaps it is because I speak from my perspective as a biologist and defender of any kind of life or because, finally, what has endured the most on earth are living beings. I believe that within our collective intuition we know that nature has all the answers for our current challenges. The indigenous groups that still remain in different rural regions also know this, since for them nature is everything. Perhaps it is time that we, who proclaim ourselves civilized, understand that it is better to feel part of something bigger than ourselves. Perhaps it is time to deconstruct the barriers that we have created that prevent us from moving to a more conscious stage.
Analogously to my experience, other industries must be transformed into sustainable ways. Electricity production, for instance, is responsible for 25% of carbon dioxide emissions. For their part, transportation and construction participate with 14% and 6% respectively. Finding ways by which the production processes are transformed such that their efficiency is increased or its operations become low energy are almost compulsory. Likewise, the way we conceive work, labor and social relations must be shifted towards a path in which inequality is reduced. We have no certainty about how, but we know that a combination of strategies such as wider employment opportunities, fair working conditions, organization’s transformation and fiscal policies oriented to the benefit of society would have an impact. I firmly believe that the guidance of nature can also lead us towards this change.
Biomimicry offers a path in which nature is at the center of the design of products and services. It teaches us principles and a methodology on which it is possible to conceive the change or improvement of what we have built so far. It also brings us a way to reconnect with natural settings, near or far from home. And it shows us a new ethic, one in which we respect other living things (where we are included) and the finite resources of the planet. The decade begins with the recognition that we will have to accommodate ourselves to a new reality in which we cannot spend or over consume. We have to go from compulsive buyer to responsible. The GREENROAD project is part of this change.
Just as life passed from the water of the oceans to the land, we will have to move towards a sustainable reality.
Tauger, M (2011).Agriculture in world history.Routledge Taylor & Francis group. London and New York