“Why improve the lives of hundreds when you can better the lives of millions by replicating solutions that work and have a positive impact on the planet?”
Written by Pierre Eymery, Scientific Board Member of OpenTeam, former Director for Public Affairs at Veolia Environment
The limits of local solutions to global issues
Except if you are a climate denier, it is pretty clear that our planet is facing a series of intertwined unprecedented crises, from extreme weather episodes, food security alerts, biodiversity losses, epidemic scares… to name a few. Most experts believe that if strong actions are not launched before 2030, our civilization will arrive at a point of no-return.
The international and national actions undertaken in the last 30 years, Kyoto protocol, Paris agreements… are too long term and top down oriented to reach the targeted impacts. Grass-root, bottom up action is thus needed to accelerate the process.
Human ingenuity is limitless and all around the planet individuals and communities have developed and keep developing solutions that are potential game changers for the planet. But in most of the cases these breakthrough solutions remain local or spread too narrowly to have any significant, climate beneficial impact.
Now, what if the most successful, high impact solutions were selected, optimised and replicated on a massive scale? This would be a game changer.
A key area where such a disruptive approach can and must be adopted is agriculture. Intensive farming in the last 50 years only has degraded the soils in many places through the use of ever increasing quantities of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. These soils have lost their capacity as a carbon pit, the quality of the food produced is dubious, productivity drops and millions of farmers are leaving their land to the slums of megacities leaving the food production on the shoulders of fewer and fewer.
There are still 1.5 billion farmers on the planet who produce 75% of the food we consume, essentially by hand and with the help of animal power. Constraining these farmers to evolve toward an intensive, mechanised agriculture would worsen the effects of climate change, accelerate their economic woes, reduce food supply and push scores of them to become urban refugees.
Other agricultural models exist that alleviate the drawbacks of intensive farming; organic farming using permaculture and other regenerative techniques is a key one. By improving ancestral know-hows – usage of compost, rotation of crops, etc. – permaculture enables biological soil fertility, which at the same time leads to better quality of food, an improvement of yields and higher incomes for the farmers.
During COP21 we met Sudarshan Chaudhary, a Nepalese farmer who, as a laureate of a prize for transforming his family farm to organic methods, was representing indigenous people from Nepal. He had already started to train other farmers in his community to create a cooperative of organic farmers, but was frustrated by the slow speed of this transformation. We quickly came up with the idea of harnessing digital technologies to speed up the process.
Today the idea is mature; through a combination of “click, brick and mortar” we are ready to kick off the full scale experiment of the replication of an impactful, socially responsible climate solution. We call it the ScaleSchool acceleration program. A solution that will change for the better the lives of thousands of farmers and consumers in Nepal, and more importantly, pave the way for scores of such initiatives all around the world.
We, at OpenTeam, are offering you the opportunity to follow and join this pioneering, life changing adventure. Stay tuned as the ScaleSchool program unfolds !