“Beware of carbon tunnel vision” – our food system needs a shift in consciousness
After a decade of preparation, RCS hosted a conference on Regenerative Agriculture in Brisbane this month, exploring the role agriculture can play in restoring our global systems to improve human and planetary health in the coming decade.
Resource Consulting Services (RCS) provides holistic and regenerative business training and advisory services to Australian agricultural businesses, individuals, families, businesses and government groups. His conference, Convergence: Agriculture, Human and Planetary Health, was held at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Center from July 16-17.
With a focus on solutions and opportunities, the conference attracted quite an international turnout – with notable speakers including American nutritionist and author Diana Rodgers; Professor Jacqueline McGlade of Strathmore University in Kenya and the Institute for Global Prosperity and Engineering at University College London; RCS co-founder Dr. Terry McCosker; political economist Dr. Katherine Trebeck; and soil microbiologist and innovation strategist Walter Jehne.
Key global issues related to climate change, nature loss, human health and the sustainability of food systems were explored, with speakers linking practical grassroots action to positive global results achieved through new economic frameworks.
One of the slogans of the conference was “carbon tunnel-vision”.
The phrase, originally coined by Jan Konietzko, sustainability advisor at Cognizant, means that too often people focus on net zero while ignoring other sustainability goals like social equality, health and well-being.
These concepts go hand in hand with a sustainable global system and remind us that we all depend on a regenerative food system to achieve many of these goals.
Regenerative approaches can reduce carbon in soils, improve water quality, improve nutrient cycling, reduce chemical inputs, and improve drought resistance. It also results in high-quality, nutrient-dense foods with healthier soils, plants, animals and people.
Farmers are increasingly expected to demonstrate social and environmental responsibility, said RCS co-founder Dr Terry McCosker, and community acceptance is needed for the business to operate.
Market trends are beginning to “change the consciousness” of producers, he said, and motivate them to act more ethically and sustainably in their practices.
Carly Baker-Burnham, director and chief financial officer at Bonnie Doone Beef, takes the concept of “social license” one step further and asks: do we inherit the land from our ancestors or do we borrow it from our descendants?
“It’s 3.23am and I’m awake – because my great-great-grandchildren won’t let me sleep. My great-great-grandchildren ask me in a dream: ‘what did you do when the planet was plundered? What did you do while the earth was unraveling?’ »
Professor Jacqueline McGlade of Strathmore University in Kenya and the Institute for Global Prosperity and Engineering at University College London, presented a global perspective on regenerating our food systems, natural prosperity and the frugal abundance.
She has explored a new paradigm of supply chain thinking – placing the value of nature at the center of production, which she believes translates into greater equality as well as resilience in the face of climate change. .
Robert Pekin and Gaala Watson, in conversation with Anthony James, unveiled the transformative effect of bringing First Nations concepts into business, explored the appropriate use of First Nations knowledge, how to recognize the violence that agriculture played and finally how First Nations knowledge has had a profound impact on agriculture.
Another highlight of the event was political economist Dr Katherine Trebeck who covered one of the biggest questions of our time: does “development” have a destination?
Dr. Trebeck’s book The new economy – ideas for a mature economyincluded a foreword by Kate Raworth, author of Saving donuts.
The concept of stewardship, says Trebeck, needs to be reintroduced into our economic thinking.
And to bring it back to the donut economic model, she pointed to Ecological Trade research at the University of Leeds to show that nationally developed economies are reaching the “social threshold” on average at the expense of our planet.
“We have the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterrez…who says it’s code red for humanity. And I don’t need to tell this audience – more than any other audience – what that means, because you live it every day.
We must continually follow a process of bettering society and the planet, Trebeck argued, and aligning our goals with what people and the planet really need.
“One of the things that keeps coming up in discussions is deep thinking about how change happens.”
“When we work together, we can do some pretty amazing things.”