STEPPING ASIDE FROM OUR NORMAL PRACTICE OF OFFERING EVIDENCE FROM THE MEDIA REPORTS, THIS ISSUE REPORTS FROM THE CONFERENCE ON LAND, LIVES AND PEACE RECENTLY HELD IN SWITZERLAND. WE AIM TO DRAW THE ESSENCE FROM THE MANY WORKSHOPS, KEYNOTE SPEECHES AND INFORMAL DIALOGUES THAT MADE UP THIS IN-DEPTH GLOBAL CONFERENCE. WE END WITH A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF CONSEQUENCES FOR STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT.
Signals: Internationally we are facing a true predicament: the wider community of practice encompassing military, security, food security, land issues and development planning has amassed a huge amount of data and insight into the immediate risks humanity faces. Simple basics like the access to land and looking after land so it can provide food and other basic functions are lacking. At the same time, a deep frustration is expressed by the community in the apparent lack of a collective awareness and ability to address these very practical needs. It is as if we are living in a culture of predicament, standing shocked and scared unable to move.
Comment. Where others might see barriers we choose to see the opportunities. Given that the lack of basic functions will undermine prosperity and hurt businesses badly, there is a huge opportunity for strategists to turn towards crafting new strategies, possibly together with governments and NGOs, to tap into the enormous human potential that is currently held back. We could characterize this approach as” investing in peace” or “investing in common shared value”. Due to the inertia created by many years of the predicament culture, this strategy required true leadership.
Several strands of trends laid out below may help strategists in initiating a dialogue in their organizations.
EVIDENCE GATHERED IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE CONFERENCE
- 1,6 million hectare of arable land plus 9 billion inhabitants = predicament
- Representatives from NATO, Club of Rome and UNCCD, echoed by many delegates, point to some simple mathematics of arable land.
- Total arable land available: 1,6 million hectare. Its quality is falling as financial pressures drive productivity demands up at the expense of long-term fertility.
- The rise of world population has seen the average available per person drop from 0,5 ha per person in 1960 to 0,2 in 2014.
- At the moment, some 0,8 billion are challenged by hunger. We are expecting a rise of population to 9 billion by 2050. This requires some serious planning if the pressure on land is not going to result in serious shortages and the resulting conflicts.
(See pictures from slides at the end of this newsletter.)
Just these simple facts and figures caused some strong feelings of frustration. As one delegate pointed out, for the global community not to respond is an act of violence against nature and future generations.
This is a military issue as well. A survey of potential hot spots of conflict in the world shows that they correlate with land degradation and climate disruption. Just the pressure on remaining land from people displaced by the conflicts can trigger further disruptions, triggering waves of violence that can be felt all over the world.
It does not escape delegates either, that seemingly peaceful countries like Sweden have their part to play in the violence against nature and humanity. Sweden’s large reductions in carbon dioxide emissions are all explained by their swapping of domestically manufactured goods for imports, thus pushing emissions off-shore. And the fact that Sweden is one of the top weapons manufacturers per capita further tarnishes their image.
So, all nations are complicit. Facts are known. Capability to action seems absent. Root causes remain elusive. So does the key that will unlock concerted action.
Range of solutions gives hope
Whilst humanity generally seems to have an impasse with its relationship to land restoration, individual NGOs, people and governments have all been making efforts.
Some examples include
- Development of agro-forestry techniques that quadruple harvest and nourish the soil
- Doubling up the function of bridges with dams to ensure water security at a fraction of the cost of providing both functions at the same time
- Learning to bring inter-mediation, negation, conciliation, dialogue to troubled spots to reach solutions without violence.
- Government action: enacting policy to restore land, allow tenure in a sustainable way, putting land restoration at the centre of citizen responsibility and bringing focus to preparing a legacy for future generations.
- Harvesting rainwater to make living on drylands a sustainable possibility.
- Applying agro-forestry to sloped land, securing it against run-off and landslides, improving water retention and producing a wide variety of food.
The Water and Food Award presented innovations from its finalists and other applicants that included intensive urban farming solutions. One group in a town in England grow food everywhere and give it away, side-stepping all the economic constraints otherwise needed to feed a town.
MAKING ADDRESSING THE PREDICAMENT A BUSINESS MISSION
The situation calls for true leadership. But the opportunities are vast. It is possibly so that only corporations possess the capability and wherewithal to cut through the many layers of barriers that collectively stop us developing a restorative, stewardship and non violent culture towards the nature we so much depend on. The Club of Rome wants to see businesses initiate new forms of private-public partnerships. Not every business can throw itself into reverting trends of centuries, but many have the capability to start from where they are and make small steps. It is, after all, good business sense, however you see it.
To find out more
- Free one-hour consultations from Stephen Hinton Consulting
- The Water and Food Award’s finalists
- The Water and Food Security ladder: steps to putting food security at the heart of CSR
- Sand dams
- Using trees to restore land
- The Club of Rome
- Films and educational material on land restoration: Hope in a Changing Climate, Rawanda Green Gold, Restoring the Earth
- WOCAT database of successful land restoration initiatives
SLIDES FROM THE CONFERENCE