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:-
- The repetition of sustainable is
intended to show how seriously the Government takes this issue
- Maybe there is no suitable synonym for this word (!?)
- Sustainable is used in such a way
that it has become a keynote of the text.
- 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:-
- 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).
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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)
- 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.