Less trade, more sustainability and prosperity!
For decades we have been involved in various crises, such as financial crisis, climate crisis, hunger and poverty in the world, refugee flows, loss of biodiversity, pandemics. These crises are persistent and we think that we as individuals have little influence on them. We rather look at politics, governments, the market, which just have to solve it. In doing so, we underestimate the strength of ourselves and overestimate the willingness to solve problems by the (global) institutions.
Handel Anders (Trade Differently)!
As an example I refer to a - in itself - wonderful initiative by Handel Anders! This coalition of among others trade unions, food producers, entrepreneurs and concerned citizens, recently made an appeal for fair and sustainable trade https://handelanders.nl/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/publicatie.pdf). This call is based on 4 principles: democracy and transparency, universal human rights, future-proofness and coherence between policy areas. Current international trade policy is based on as much trade as possible. Competitiveness, driven by profit maximization, leads to multinationals that control the world market. Handel Anders! wants to enforce better standards in the field of the environment, labour, public health, food safety and animal welfare and provide the entire world population with basic needs, fair prices and wages, gender equality, improved access to seeds and medicines. Handel Anders! wants to achieve this, top-down, by advocating, after Bretton Woods, World Bank, IMF, GATT and WTO, for a new international trade organization. Handel Anders! wants a fundamental reform of the WTO, a greater role for UNCTAD and a leading role for UNEP and UNDP, with ILO as the decision-maker in trade rules. UNFCCC lifts the current imbalances in climate policy. All trade rules should reinforce climate goals.
According to the initiative of Handel Anders!, neo-liberalization, which has gained momentum since the 1980s, is leading to privatization of transport, energy supply and health care. Trade in goods was liberalized, barriers to capital flows were lifted and tax cuts for multinationals were introduced. It goes without saying that the rich countries in the North benefit the most from this, such as through tariff cuts on agricultural products, which in the North are offset by heavy subsidies that poor countries in the South are unable to do. Rich countries can enforce this by using blackmail means, such as stopping development aid and lowering import quotas. The emerging bilateral trade agreements, such as CETA, make countries in the South even weaker. Here governments, multinationals and the market work together. In a previous blog (Get started yourself!) I called this the COMBI-Complex.
Agriculture and food
The enormously increased international - unfair - trade is strongly fed by the production and consumption system of the rich countries in the North. For example, we look at the agricultural and food system in the Netherlands. The Netherlands is known in the world as the second largest exporter of agricultural and food products, after the USA, while, if we look at the available farmland, the Netherlands should be a net importer of agricultural and food products. The area of farmland in 2010 amounts to 1130 m2 per inhabitant (Source: CBS Statline), while for a healthy diet, with animal protein consumption reduced by up to half, the required land use is 5280 m2 per capita, using nature and environmentally friendly production methods. A vegetarian diet requires 4992 m2 per inhabitant (World Resource Institute. Sustainable Diets: What You Need to Know in 12 Charts. (Https://www.wri.org/blog/2016/04/sustainable-diets-what-you-need-know-12-charts). This means that in the Netherlands there is far too little agricultural land available for a healthy diet now and certainly in 2050, when the population will have increased even further and the surface area of farmland is already under pressure. The trade related to transit and export is therefore completely superfluous. Among other things it’s about the following trade flows. The import of the Netherlands from developing countries consists largely of soy and palm oil. Dutch imports of soy and palm oil amounted to more than 18 million tonnes of fruit equivalent in 2010, of which more about 12 million tonnes were exported. In euros, the Dutch import in 2010 of agricultural commodities of tropical origin (soy, cocoa, palm oil, tobacco, coffee, tea, rubber and cotton) amounted to about 13 billion euros (De Nederlandse voetafdruk op de wereld: hoe groot en hoe diep?, Den Haag: Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving, 2012).
Worldwide there is no problem in the availability of farmland. In 2010, 6950 m2 per resident is available and in 2050 this will be 5086 m2. That is sufficient for a healthy diet, though with a greatly reduced animal protein consumption, for the total world population. We must prevent the expansion of farmland, in both poor and rich countries, because it will affect biodiversity. So, do not use farmland for housing, energy parks, etc. In 2050, however, only slightly more than half of the required agricultural land will be available in poor countries (2785 m2 per capita). Imports will therefore have to come from the rich countries, which have 10,211 m2 per inhabitant available in 2010 and still 9,218 m2 in 2050.
By not increasing the amount of agricultural land, the global biodiversity is preserved. Rich countries also benefit from this biodiversity, which is mainly generated in poor countries (e.g. tropical rain forests). Rich countries will have to do something in return for the poor countries. It is therefore necessary that food produced in rich countries is exchanged for biodiversity generated in poor countries. The shortage of food in poor countries will then be eliminated and global biodiversity will be maintained.
Although Handel Anders! is a laudable initiative, we cannot leave the necessary change to top-down organized institutions. That has never been succesful and will certainly not succeed in the coming decades. We will have to consult ourselves and that is no easy task. Fortunately, there is the Platform 2local. This platform is at the service for all people and companies who want to work together and strive for a sustainable and prosperous world for everyone. The Platform supports everyone worldwide, regardless of cultural differences, with a cashback when purchasing sustainable and local products from connected companies. The Platform uses modern blockchain technology.
2local wants to transform the current competitive economic power system into cooperative cooperation, facilitated by its own cryptocurrency. This approach sets in motion a movement that focuses on small-scale, sustainable and locally produced and distributed goods and services. For this it is necessary to pay more attention to the place of man in society, as Socrates and Plato already did. This was not addressed again until the 17th and 18th centuries by the thinkers Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau with the idea of the social contract, in which the individual and his place in the community are central. The theory of fair social relations of the American philosopher John Rawls (1921-2002) is again based on the model of the social contract. He sees in the Third Way a synthesis between market and state, in which people take into account the possible interests of all, because man has a rational sense of fairness, which makes him strive for justice. Very recently the Member of the Dutch Parliament, Pieter Omtzigt, brought the idea of a new social contract back into the spotlight. This can be elaborated into local and sustainable partnerships that remain connected worldwide.
Sustainability and prosperity
2 local stands for global sustainability and prosperity. The Platform is working on a new digital currency system with a cashback, making local and sustainable purchases accessible to everyone. 2local wants to eradicate poverty and hunger in the world and solve environmental and climate problems. This requires a deeper understanding of social ethics, i.e. we need to engage in dialogue with each other and strive for virtues in life that enable us to participate positively in group relationships. We were already taught this by Socrates, who used dialectics as a method of achieving humanity in society, and also by Confucius, who based his ethical system on virtues, including charity and humanity. Developments in China have been different, but since the 21st century there has been a Confucian revival movement, in which the harmonic human relationships rooted in society are again based on a shared sense of community. Geir Sigurdsson, an Icelandic philosopher, thinks that through self-cultivation a trust-based community can be created that goes hand in hand with modernization, but not in the Western manifestation (individualism and liberalism). We can also learn from Kant who developed the categorical imperative: to act in the way you would like everyone to behave that way. Richard Rorty (1931-2007), an American philosopher, has spent his whole life trying to contribute to a world with less poverty and hunger. He argues that Western democracy is best served by a commitment to solidarity. However, he found no way of uniting reality and justice in a theory. With Rorty, 2local thinks about political issues, human rights and injustice and calls for the existing (poor-rich) contradictions to be placed on the political agenda.
2local rejects the global powerful corporations in favor of communities that work in symbiosis. With phenomenologists and postmodernists 2local realizes that rationality and science, driven by capital, are not the only reality. 2local recognizes the cultural differences between people and ensures accessibility for everyone, not just people with purchasing power. The digital coins are available to everyone, including people in the poor and emerging countries, who currently do not have access to the traditional banking system. The cashback system makes sustainable and local products accessible to everyone. The value of this crypto coin will increase as more people buy with the 2local currency. 2local agrees with the French philosopher Deleuze (1925-1995) that the only thing we have to do is to make a start with the new politics and to hope that it will work contagiously and set new developments in motion.
New knowledge and technology is of great importance, provided it is carefully considered whether it meets social standards and is not purely at the service of global business and big capital. Blockchain technology works in a decentralized manner and cannot be manipulated. Cryptocurrencies based on this innovative technology can enable what mainstream and other currencies, including the already widely used local currencies, cannot. It also makes it possible to link the cashback system to 2local's innovative blockchain. Consumers who buy local and sustainable products from connected companies via the app receive a cashback. That makes their purchases affordable and new purchases easier. The connected companies, which produce locally and sustainably, benefit from a higher turnover. Consumers and connected companies can easily find each other on the Marketplace of the website (https://2local.io/). This makes global sustainability and prosperity possible.
Harry Donkers, March 2021