Rio+20 Critical Issue / Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture

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Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. Food security covers availability, access, utilization and stability issues, and — in its focus on individuals — also embraces their energy, protein and nutrient needs for life, activity, pregnancy, growth and long-term capabilities . Sustainable agriculture is not officially defined but generally refers to the capacity of agriculture over time to contribute to overall welfare by providing sufficient food and other goods and services in ways that are economically efficient and profitable, socially responsible, and environmentally sound. It is time to rethink how we grow, share and consume our food. If done right, agriculture, forestry and fisheries can provide nutritious food for all and generate decent incomes, while supporting people-centred rural development and protecting the environment. But right now, our soils, freshwater, oceans, forests and biodiversity are being rapidly degraded. Climate change is putting even more pressure on the resources we depend on, increasing risks associated with disasters such as droughts and floods. Many rural women and men can no longer make ends meet on their land, forcing them to migrate to cities in search of opportunities. A profound change of the global food and agriculture system is needed if we are to nourish today’s 925 million hungry and the additional 2 billion people expected by 2050.

The food and agriculture sector offers key solutions for development, and is central for hunger and poverty eradication.

Here are some facts and figures:

  • Agriculture is the single largest employer in the world, providing livelihoods for 40 per cent of today’s global population. It is the largest source of income and jobs for poor rural households.
  • 500 million small farms worldwide, most still rainfed, provide up to 80 per cent of food consumed in a large part of the developing world. Investing in smallholder women and men is an important way to increase food security and nutrition for the poorest, as well as food production for local and global markets.
  • Since the 1900s, some 75 per cent of crop diversity has been lost from farmers’ fields. Better use of agricultural biodiversity can contribute to more nutritious diets, enhanced livelihoods for farming communities and more resilient and sustainable farming systems.
  • 1.3 billion people have no access to electricity worldwide – most of which live in rural areas of the developing world. Energy poverty in many regions is a fundamental barrier to reducing hunger and ensuring that the world can produce enough food to meet future demand.
—————————————————————————————————————————————————- Source and further reading:  , photo credits Posted by Rio+20
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Introducing Education for Sustainability Project

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The basic idea for this project was triggered during the “Knowledge, Youth and Global Commons” international conference, held at Woerthersee, Austria in mid-September 2011. (this link will provide you with the programme of the conference, but also give you access to our notes from the conference – do read those – as they share both thought provoking and inspiring quotes and insights)

As we discussed and brainstormed the situation in the regions we have been active in thus far (South East Europe, Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, Central and Eastern Mediterranean) one point kept surfacing – in order to make any significant, long term change that would impact the quality of life, the route of development and future generations – we need to educate people on sustainability and related concepts (from sustainable development and sustainable way of life, to sustainability in business, sustainability science, sustainability management).

While in the Western countries sustainable development can be found as a separate subject in schools’ and university curricula, less developed countries, countries in transition, and countries related to as “emerging markets” were still a long way from even considering of introducing sustainable development in schools’ curricula. In most cases this lack of action is caused by other internal (and often external) issues that seem to be more pressing (political turbulence, economic hardship, human rights issues, difficult transition period and similar). Still, what could be more pressing than ensuring the sustainable future for the generations to come? (Not to mention that Sustainable Development “ties together concern for the carrying capacity of natural systems with the social challenges faced by humanity, and that the concept of sustainable development is often broken out into three constituent parts: environmental sustainability, economic sustainability and sociopolitical sustainability” / Wikipedia)

When asking ourselves “what would be the most effective way of helping”, we defined our answer as “let’s do our best to help introduce Sustainable development in the schools’ curricula in the countries and regions where that is not yet the case.” And here we are :) trying to do just that.

This website was created as a hub, a meeting point, if you will, where we will share not only the progress of this project, but also case studies and practices done by different organizations, businesses, municipalities and governments, we will give you insights in sustainable lifestyle, sustainable science, sustainable economy, we will share facts and stories, opinions and ideas, with the hope that some (or all) of it will inspire you to join us in creating a sustainable future for our children.

Please read the Project Brief and Frequently Asked Questions for more information, and there is also the Wiki page, with more detailed  data on educational systems, legislative framework, environmental and sustainability issues, green economy.

We would love to have you on board, helping us during implementation of the project – if you’d like to join in, please check out Join Us tab. And that’s not all – check back daily for blog posts, subscribe to our newsletter, and join us on social networks.


   Posted by Sandra Antonovic;   Sandra is the International Projects Director and Chair of the Board of Nektarina Non Profit.  She serves on a pro bono basis.


Corporate Social Responsibility / European Union

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In October 2011 the European Commission published a new policy on corporate responsibility. It states that to fully meet their social responsibility, enterprises “should have in place a process to integrate social, environmental, ethical and human rights concerns into their business operations and core strategy in close collaboration with their stakeholders”. The aim is both to enhance positive impacts – for example through the innovation of new products and services that are beneficial to society and enterprises themselves – and to minimize and prevent negative impacts.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the predominant form of enterprise in the European Union. If Europe and its enterprises are to reap the full benefits of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), it is vital to make sure that SMEs are fully engaged and that what they do is fully recognised. This is a particular challenge because CSR as a term and as a definable business concept has been created mainly by and for larger companies.
Small businesses are typically not less responsible than large enterprises. They may not know and use the term “CSR”, but their close relations with employees, the local community and business partners often mean they have a naturally responsible approach to business. The Commission believes that for most SMEs, the process by which they meet their social responsibility will remain informal and intuitive. In some EU Member states the concept is well established and there is a high level of enterprise awareness supported by effective public policies to promote CSR. In other European countries, the awareness and development of corporate social responsibility is much less advanced. The key issues of corporate social responsibility vary from company to company. For example, enterprises in the retail sector might have to deal with the risk of poor labour standards in their supply chain, while a mining company is more concerned by the need to avoid infringing the human rights of people living near its operations. The European Alliance on CSR is a business-lead initiative to promote CSR, launched in 2006 with strong backing from the European Commission. It is a vehicle for mobilising the resources and capacities of European enterprises and their stakeholders in the interests of sustainable development, economic growth and job creation.   Post compiled by European Commission.  For more detailed information and reading resources, please visit the European Commission Corporate Social Responsibility platform.

Rio+20 Critical Issue / Green Jobs and Social Inclusion

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At the Rio+20 Conference, world leaders, along with thousands of participants from governments, the private sector, NGOs and other groups, will come together to shape how we can reduce poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection on an ever more crowded planet to get to the future we want. The Conference will focus on two themes: (a) a green economy in the context of sustainable development poverty eradication; and (b) the institutional framework for sustainable development. The preparations for Rio+20 have highlighted seven areas which need priority attention; these include decent jobs, energy, sustainable cities, food security and sustainable agriculture, water, oceans and disaster readiness. The world faces several sustainable development challenges which require coordinated action, as evidenced by the recurring food, fuel, climate and financial crises. These multiple crises need to be addressed at the same time. The concept of green job1 is an attempt to look for synergies in simultaneously addressing employment, energy and environment issues. Energy use and environmental stresses have reached a scale at which planetary boundaries are being reached, increasing the probability of catastrophic environmental change. Despite many efforts, the declared goal of establishing a renewables-based low‐carbon energy system on a global scale remains elusive. Modern renewables jointly account for only about 1 per cent of primary energy, and CO2 emissions growth has been accelerating. Rio+20 Issues Brief on green jobs and social inclusion gives a coherent overview of green jobs, estimates of green jobs creation and existing international commitments. You can read and download the seven page brief here. Rio+20 team has developed an interactive map on green policies, practices and initiatives, showing the geographical scope and priority areas. You can explore the map at this link and learn more about policies, practices and initiatives in your country / region. Further reading, facts, figures, videos and overviews can be found at the following links: Global Reporting Initiative Green Economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication  link shares numerous reports and publications on green economy, green jobs and green societies.   Basics on the Rio+20 conference: What is Rio+20? Rio+20 – the short name for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development to take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 2012 – is an historic opportunity to define pathways to a safer, more equitable, cleaner, greener and more prosperous world for all. Twenty years after the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, where countries adopted Agenda 21 – a blueprint to rethink economic growth, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection – the UN is again bringing together governments, international institutions and major groups to agree on a range of smart measures that can reduce poverty while promoting decent jobs, clean energy and a more sustainable and fair use of resources. Rio+20 is a chance to move away from business-as-usual and to act to end poverty, address environmental destruction and build a bridge to the future. What issues will be discussed? The official discussions will focus on two main themes: How to build a green economy to achieve sustainable development and lift people out of poverty, including support for developing countries that will allow them to find a green path for development; and how to improve international coordination for sustainable development. What will happen at Rio+20? Thousands of participants from governments, the private sector, NGOs and other stakeholders will gather in Rio at the end of May and beginning of June 2012 for a strong push towards sustainable development. The last session of the Preparatory Committee for the Conference and the actual conference will take place there in June 2012. In parallel with and between the official events, there will be numerous side events, exhibitions, presentations, fairs and announcements by a wide range of partners. Governments are expected to adopt clear and focused practical measures for implementing sustainable development, based on the many examples of success we have seen over the last 20 years.   For more information on the Rio+20 conference, please visit the conference web page Posted by Nektarina Non Profit and Rio+20.

What is Sustainable Development?

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Guest post by International Institute for International Development

Sustainable development has been defined in many ways, but the most frequently quoted definition is from Our Common Future, also known as the Brundtland Report:

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It contains within it two key concepts:
  • the concept of needs, in particular the essential needs of the world’s poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and
  • the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment’s ability to meet present and future needs.”

All definitions of sustainable development require that we see the world as a system—a system that connects space; and a system that connects time.

When you think of the world as a system over space, you grow to understand that air pollution from North America affects air quality in Asia, and that pesticides sprayed in Argentina could harm fish stocks off the coast of Australia. And when you think of the world as a system over time, you start to realize that the decisions our grandparents made about how to farm the land continue to affect agricultural practice today; and the economic policies we endorse today will have an impact on urban poverty when our children are adults. We also understand that quality of life is a system, too. It’s good to be physically healthy, but what if you are poor and don’t have access to education? It’s good to have a secure income, but what if the air in your part of the world is unclean? And it’s good to have freedom of religious expression, but what if you can’t feed your family? The concept of sustainable development is rooted in this sort of systems thinking. It helps us understand ourselves and our world. The problems we face are complex and serious—and we can’t address them in the same way we created them. But we can address them. For more information about International Institute for Sustainable Development, please visit their web page

(photo credits Snezana Antonovic)