social justice

As the team leader of the Global Perspectives Studies from FAO, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Lorenzo Bellù studies the impact of agriculture in our daily lives. Is humanity threatened by mass food production techniques? Should we all go organic? I talked to him and brought you answers to these and other questions.

Photo: UNDP

Regarding the Zero Hunger goal, how can we overcome the challenge to produce healthy food for all?

I understand healthy food as safe food, which means is not poisonous or damaging, and then containing sufficiently nutrients, vitamins and proteins. On the other side, it is a healthy combination of healthy food. You can use healthy food and have an unhealthy diet. I’m saying that in terms of abuse of animal proteins, for example. Food may be healthy but the way you use it or abuse it can be unhealthy.

That being said, how to produce healthy food for an ever-growing global population?

There is a debate about whether farmers should use organic versus conventional techniques. I’m not against organic, but a key question is whether producing organic food is something that can actually feed the planet now and in the future. This question is an issue that still needs to be researched. Having said that, this doesn’t mean conventional agriculture doesn’t require investigation. In general, we need to identify sustainable ways of producing to achieve the SDGs, but we don’t have the answers. Moving food along the sustainable pattern require investigation, investment, commitment.

Are technology and social innovation helping with providing solutions to the increasing global demand for food?

We are going to face several challenges, one of them is in front of us, how to produce more food with fewer resources – water, land and greenhouse gas emissions. Technology may help us to use less water or using it in a more efficient way, it is something that may evolve a lot. But this requires knowing the moment when crops need water and the quantity. So technology can help with finding ways of dealing with antimicrobial resistance. The use and abuse of chemicals, medicaments, antibiotics to deal with animals and plants diseases cause resistance. Technology can discover new remedies ant the better use of the current ones.

Conventional agriculture has shown limitation in terms of excess withdrawal of water, fertility of soils, what has been useful so far to feed global expanding population now cannot be on the future, we are facing deflation of biodiversity. We must change the way of doing and producing things by spreading existing knowledge, investing more in research and development, infrastructure, know-how and expertise of people. We don’t have preconceived solutions. To move around these ways you need political commitment, private investment and the participation of all actors.

What is the role of consumers and their personal choices in order to push for a more sustainable agriculture?

I believe that the role of consumers is crucial now and it’s going to be crucial in the future. First of all, the consumer can decide to move personal diets into more healthy food. In developed countries, for example, where there is an excess of animal products consumption, we can move to more sustainable diets, because animal processing is very intense on gas emissions. (By eating too many animal products), I am not going to help myself and other people and I put pressure on the market, contributing to raising prices. Consumers are sovereign, what they decide can influence production and is going to be crucial to go on the sustainable path.

Many experts and influencers advocate for organic, regional, seasonal food. Is it part of the solution to make agriculture more sustainable?

It’s important to rely on trustworthy information and not ‘fake news’ sources concerning food. On internet you find everything, consumers have to be informed but not trapped getting wrong signals. Not all the websites are the same. But I believe consumers who want to privilege organic food may have their right to do that. I believe the awareness is a key factor also in pushing production techniques. I’m not saying that local food intended as self-sufficiency of small, regional areas is necessarily more sustainable than traditional. To some extent, exchange of food across different zones may help increase sustainability, so you are not forced to produce some kinds of food. If you live in a zone where water and land are under stress, there is no need to produce that to fulfill needs. So it doesn’t exist simple solutions to complex problems. But consumers who want strawberries in winter time need to know it’s not advisable. If they want cherries in December in Europe and they’re coming from Australia, it’s not environmentally sound. You can consume other things. We need to be wiser about what the implications are.

What should we be aware of working conditions and other social impacts of agriculture?

When we eat food at cheaper prices, we don’t count externalities like footprints as transport cost and pollution. We don’t fully internalize the costs of gas emissions. The food is cheap, I consume it, but environmentally and socially it may not be cheap. Prices are signals the consumer receive, but the cost of polluting water sources may not be reflected in these prices. Food may come at cheaper prices because people work with indecent wages and conditions. In some parts of the world, labor conditions are not acceptable, that’s why FAO push member countries do adopt legislation to impose decent working conditions. FAO avocates for responsible investment in agriculture, respect for the environment, local values, right to food, access to resources to small holders. It may imply higher costs, but the consumers have to be aware of what they consume and if it comes from countries which actually respect these conditions. If we move in that direction we may be close to achieve the SDGs.

Horyou is a strong supporter of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This article highlights challenges and solutions for SDG12 – Responsible consumption and production.

Half of the world’s population lives on USD 2 a day or less. The 8th UN Sustainable Development Goal promotes decent work for all.

Photo: UNDP

Robots taking humans jobs in Europe, a slave market in Libya, child labor in Brazil, youth unemployment in Spain…our society is globally affected by job insecurity and vulnerability. While the global unemployment rate stands at 5.7 per cent, having a job doesn’t guarantee decent conditions and earnings. Young women are the most vulnerable group, with a larger chance to be neither in employment nor in education.

This situation affects the global political and economic stability – labor productivity has been slowing down since 2010, which represents a negative living standard and real wages progress worldwide. Indirectly, it will affect human impact on the environment, education levels, violence, and migration. It’s all connected.

Yet, there are good news. Despite remaining a huge concern, the number of working children has declined from 246 million in 2000 to 168 million in 2012, and it’s even better for girls with a 40% decline versus 25% for boys.

According to the UNDP, better labor conditions require access to financial services and aid for trade. The former has increased by 55 per cent in the last five years, while investment in trade-related infrastructure, banking and agriculture has reached USD 53.9 billion in 2015. Trust funds for the least developed countries are also running their second phase now up to 2022.

In addition to the work of governments and transnational institutions, the creation of quality jobs still remains one of the biggest challenges for all economies. Many organizations are working to qualify people and provide them with skills and access to better jobs.

One of Horyou’s active organizations devoted to the SDG 8 is Association Flamme de la Gloire. Based in Morocco, it provides support and social services to vulnerable communities. Through workshops and internships, it helps to improve the quality of access to work. It is focused on the development of tourism and cultural activities, as well as agricultural cooperatives within the country, constantly concerned with the sustainable aspects of these activities.

In Brazil, NOUS Educare provides educational development programs to strengthen human potential, based on anthroposophy. Through workshops, lectures and activities, it helps its participants to gain confidence, strength and skills to face the new labor scenario which is unfolding for all workers.

If you wish to support this SDG, you can do so through Horyou. Go to Horyou platform and choose an NGO or project that helps promote decent work and economic growth in your region or anywhere in the world. Your support can be made easier and more effective with Spotlight, our digital currency for impact. Check it out and start using it to engage in any cause you feel concerned about. Be the change, be Horyou!

On the 25th of November, we celebrate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. As part of its support of the cause, Horyou interviewed Juncal Plazaola Castaño, UN Women Specialist on Ending Violence Against Women.

Orange the world is a UN Women Campaign for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

What is UN Women’s approach to the elimination of violence against women?

We focus on four areas of work. The first of them is to work with partners, governments, civil society and stakeholders to revise or approve legislations and policies that meet international standards. It does not only regard violence but also equality and opportunities issues, like divorce and custody. We also work to improve services provided to women, namely legal, social, police and security services. Another area is prevention of sexism, men privilege and men dominance. We do that through women empowerment and by promoting more positive masculinity. The fourth pillar is about evidence and data. In order to know the magnitude of the problem and make governments and actors aware of it, we need to collect evidence. We do this with our partners, mostly academic.

Have you scored any recent progress in these areas?

In the area of legislation, UN women was an important actor on defining legal age of marriage in Malawi and some places in the Caribbean, focusing on preventing child marriage. We also helped to implement Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces, a program that aims to address sexual harassment. We are working with 27 cities in developing and developed countries, like in Winnipeg, Canada. The city has very high sexual harassment rates, especially with indigenous women and we involved with indigenous organizations to understand the scope of the problem and to set new public transportation initiatives. In Quito, Equador, we were partners of the municipal observatory of violence, which includes violence against women, too. They have a municipal budget allocation to the program, which shows great ownership and sustainability.

What is UN Women biggest challenge on eliminating violence against women?

One of them is accountability of perpetrators. It requires involvement of other actors and all of the pillars I mentioned before. If no legislation is involved, for example, the violence will continue as the perpetrators will think there is no penalty or consequence. We also need to address stereotypes, men dominance, men privilege and other social norms. Another big challenge is to reach those there are left behind, women who are exposed for their condition as women with disabilities, from ethnic minorities, lesbians, bisexuals, or women who are very young or older who experiment different types of violence. The last challenge I will mention is monitoring impact. We expect something to be achieved in 3 or 4 years, some change of social norms and attitude. I think we need to find the impact the work we are doing in a more realistic way.

Orange the world campaign. Photo: UN Women

Can we be hopeful that one day we will eliminate gender violence?

I am hopeful and I have observed some recent signs that gave me even more hope. One of them is the #metoo campaign. It shows the power of women’s voices and how to reach a momentum as the topic is not being hidden anymore. The campaign calls for accountability of perpetrators. And they are actually being called. It also shows that women are exposed not only related to domestic violence and women mutilation, but also to sexual and verbal harassment, rape and many other aspects. The other sign of hope is agenda 2030. The SDG set one specific goal for women, but there are also other hidden goals in the agenda. For instance, SDG goals dedicated to achieving inclusive and sustainable cities. It recognizes the centrality of equality, and how relevant it is for the international community.

What is the role of social media in UN Women campaigns?

The Internet and social media have a strong power to shape the ways we think. They are enablers of women empowerment. Social media gives voice to women and features stories of positive empowerment. It’s a very powerful tool for shaping stereotypes and the way we think and act, and a way to condemn discrimination. It creates a sense of community.

What does the color orange mean on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women?

From the 25th of November, we are ‘oranging’ the world for 16 days as part of the campaign. The color orange is a symbol of bright and optimistic future. The idea is to make social media to initiate a discussion about this future we want to have.

Organized by UNDP, the Social Good Summit will have guests and artists from all over the world to promote a message of justice

Social Good Summit 2017
Social Good Summit 2017

Held annually during the United Nations General Assembly week, the Social Good Summit focuses on the challenges of the 2030s. With its art installations, musical performances and conferences, the Summit will take place in New York on the 17th of September, and will adjoin a Geneva chapter, on October 13th, of which Horyou, the social network for social good, is media partner.

In a rapidly changing world, the New York Summit will contemplate the future via a dynamic exploration of life by 2030, exploring ways and means to unlock the potential of technology in order to make the world a better place.

Famous personalities, including The Color Purple’s actress Cynthis Erivo and Game of Thrones’ actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, are on the list of confirmed guests. An Emmy, Grammy and Tony awards-winning actress and singer, Erivo has been outspoken about the power of using your name and reputation to promote racial and social justice causes. Best known as a member of the villainous Lannister family in Game of Thrones, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is a UNDP Goodwill Ambassador for gender equality and climate change.

The two personalities will be joined on stage by a host of activists to introduce innovative solutions to global issues, that includes:

ElsaMarie D’Silva, CEO & Founder of Safecity

Rocky Duwani, Singer-Songwriter

Ronald de Jong, Executive Vice President at Philips & Chairman of the Philips Foundation

Erika Ender, Singer-Songwriter

Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Kate Hampton, CEO of the Children Investment Fund Foundation

Munira Khalif, United Nations U.S. Youth Observer

Rina Kupferschmid-Rojas, Head of Sustainable Finance at UBS & Society

Rachel Kyte, CEO & Special Representative of the UN Secretary for Sustainable Energy for All

Dr. Rebecca Martin, Director of the Center for Global Health (CGH) at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross

David Miliband, President & CEO of the International Rescue Committee

Lawrence O’Donnell, Anchor of MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell

Juliana Rotich, Co-Founder of BRCK & Ushahidi

Martha Isabel “Pati” Ruiz Corzo, Director of Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda I.A.P.

Horyou and the Social Good Summit Geneva

Horyou is media partner of SGSGeneva 2017, a closed door event targeting high level decision makers and impact finance, entrepreneurs, governments, international organizations and large private sector companies. It will be marked by networking sessions and discussions that should take the SDGs to a higher level. It will be hosted in Geneva, an important hub for sustainable finance.

More information about the Social Good Summit in New York on http://mashable.com/sgs/

The Social Good Summit in Geneva http://www.europe.undp.org/content/geneva/en/home/ourwork/social-good-summit.html

Horyou is the Social Network for Social Good, which connects, supports and promotes social initiatives, entrepreneurs, and citizens who help the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to build a more harmonious and inclusive world. Horyou is also the host of SIGEF, the Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum, taking place in Astana, Kazakhstan during the EXPO 2017, from 5-7 September. We invite you to Be the Change, Be Horyou!

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