Integration - Sustainability

I have written about sustainability on my "Major Themes" page of the Food Site, where I show that sustain-words are used 4 times in the 2001 version of the Aims and Objectives, and this has increased to 6 times in the 2004 version.

I propose several ways of interpreting this:-

  1. The repetition of sustainable is intended to show how seriously the Government takes this issue
  2. Maybe there is no suitable synonym for this word (!?)
  3. Sustainable is used in such a way that it has become a keynote of the text.
  4. Sustainable implies a long time-scale - that the supplies we need will be available long-term

However, I am cynical about this for the following reasons:-

  1. a technical description of sustainabity might be that the outputs of a process (food produced) should be greater than the inputs (labour, fuel and fertiliser), and that prices and supplies of the inputs and outputs can be maintained in the long term, and that waste products from the process should not be a burden on the environment or economy (and the costs of wastes should be included in all calculations).
  2. between 2001 and 2004, I think the country is more dependant than ever on imports of foreign food and on the use of imported fuels. These trends are going in the opposite direction to sustainability.
  3. Sustainable is in any case very vague. I do not know of any Government definition of it, and I suspect that this is deliberate, and its use should be taken as rhetoric. (for the record, my own view is that sustainability is similar to self-sufficiency, but applied in a wider way at a community level, and implying a longer time-scale)
  4. I have created a site on Sustainability in Surrey where I carry out a survey of Surrey from a sustainability perspective. I conclude that Surrey's degree of sustainability is close to zero.
  5. There may be some useful pilot projects on sustainable techniques in the food sector, and these may be worth a mention, but they do not seem to justify repeating the word so often. (there may be successes with alternative wind and wave power sources, but they are not in the food and farming sector)
  6. The UK Government has a website for Sustainable Development this seems to highlight strategies, however there is very little real progress to report - there are numerous meetings and agreements, which are hopefully laying the foundation for future progress

It is difficult to evaluate the Governments sustainability policies - are they rhetoric, or is a solid foundation for progress being laid ? I would be concerned that there is no measurement or equation for sustainability, and the lack of this might invalidate whatever work is being done.

Please contact me at if you are interested in the above

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