Local sustainability

Local sustainability is one of the pillars of the ‘2local’ community. 2local is developing a new digital payment system that brings sustainability and prosperity hand-in-hand to the world by making local and sustainable purchases accessible to everyone by using blockchain technology. It encourages people to participate in society.

Sustainability defined in the Brundtland report in 1987 is a very general concept. It is an integrated package of social equity and environmental and economic sustainability. Vandana Shiva in 2011 made the statement that in the field of food this concept does not sufficiently cover the aspect of security, of which vital aspects are safety and sovereignty. Based on her view I elaborated the paradigm of ‘sustainable food security’ in my book: Local Food for Global Future’. Though this paradigm is drafted in the field of food, in essence it generally applies. So, the sustainability concept should include five instead of three issues: people, profit, planet, sovereignty and safety. In this BLOG I will demonstrate that sustainability beyond the three common issues of people, planet and profit can best be achieved through a local lens.

Social values cannot be attained by neoliberal global and industrial multinationals. The clothing industries, for example, have made their products in developing countries, where, human rights, viable wages and safe working conditions for factory workers are not guaranteed. The ‘Transparency Pledge’, where last week various Dutch clothing companies signed an ‘international promise’ to provide more openness, is perhaps a good step, but it is not sufficient. Another example: the world food problem is first of all a societal problem. Global megafarms only produce for people with enough purchasing power. Poor people have little money and are therefore deprived of food. We need to re-value our socio-cultural values, which require a restoration of the ties between producer and consumer. In this age of information technology with its abundant availability of social media physical or geographical nearness is not necessary. These ties demand a local basis but can be experienced worldwide.

Since free trade is hampered by the oligopolistic position of a small number of large firms, there is an obvious economic imbalance of both opportunity and reward. Both global transport and trade liberalization should be restricted. The neoliberal global production system has brought economic and financial success, though not for all participants and at the cost of imbalance of externalities. Poverty and low earnings are common in the developing world. Farmers do not receive fair prices because the larger share of the price paid by consumers goes to the global producers and the multinationals. Decreasing unfair oligopolistic competition would make it easier for large groups of people to have economic success and develop relationships that reward quality and fairness. Fairer incomes for workers require fundamentally new forms of capital that people can arrange locally.

 

The ecological aspect implies recovering ecological values by counteracting climate change, stopping destroying forests, abandoning chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and stimulating biodiversity. In agriculture crop growing and animal husbandry should be linked to each other in closed areas. The ecological processes should be developed with care, resources and energy cycles should largely be closed, and production and nature should be interconnected.