Defining 'Sustainable' Agriculture
It seems like in every corner of the agriculture industry people are talking about sustainability. But unfortunately that word can mean different things to different people. I asked Richard Waite, one of the authors of “Creating a Sustainable Food Future” how that word “sustainable” should be defined.
Waite… “You pose a really good question because you know, my definition of sustainable or how I used it today or in this conversation might be very different than someone else's definition. And, you know, and folks, we use the word, whether it's sustainable, regenerative has the same issues. It's good to be very clear what it is you're talking about and not talking about. Because I think otherwise conversations can kind of break down and people can talk past each other.”
Waite says that their focus at the World Resources Institute is on meeting basic human nutrition while keeping environmental impacts below certain thresholds.
Waite… “We kind of defined it using environmental terms and we defined it as by 2050, everyone's adequately got enough food to eat, you know, we've eliminated hunger, we've eliminated deforestation and we've reduced agriculture's emissions in line with kind of where the climate science says we need to be to avoid dangerous levels of climate change. So that's the definition that kind of we use and we work backwards from there.”
Probably a good piece of advice to clearly define terms in any conversation as important as the future of food and farming.