Kerala flooding: Agricultural impacts and environmental degradation

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Flooded streets and shops in Kerala, August 2018 (© Praveenp, Wikimedia Commons)

Last month, the south Indian state of Kerala experienced record level rainfall. A huge 310mm of rainfall in just 24 hours, resulted in devastating flooding, causing significant damage to infrastructure, agricultural systems and human life. With over 480 people confirmed to have been killed due to the flooding, experts are now identifying the causes of this incident, including dramatic human development, environmental degradation and a lack of sustainable development in the region.

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Developing a sustainable bamboo industry

By Zhu Zhaohua, formerly Chinese Academy of Forestry, China and Jin Wei, International Bamboo and Rattan Organization

Beautiful natural background with bamboo troncs on sunny day
Bamboo is a fast-growing, renewable, non-timber and non-herbal plant

Bamboo is a fast-growing, renewable, non-timber and non-herbal plant. It has high biomass productivity, CO2 absorption and sequestration capacities, and high soil and water conservation capacity. In the lengthy history of its utilisation, its contributions to human beings are far beyond imagination.

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Taking the power back

How apple growers are regaining control of the supply chain from retailers

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Apples are one of the world’s most popular fruits. In 2013 world production reached almost 82 million tonnes and the export value broke US$8 billion (FAO STAT, 2017). The fruit comes in all shapes, sizes, flavours and colours; yet what we see in the supermarkets is a mere snapshot of the diversity that exists. The apple market is predominately controlled by retailers who demand strict uniformity in both colour and size of apples from growers, who are encouraged to produce commercial varieties on a large scale, which are then sold on to consumers at low cost.

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Indigenous knowledge to enlighten sustainable development

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Indigenous peoples are characterised by having their own land to which they are connected at various levels, and protecting this special relationship has attracted a great deal of media attention recently. Demonstrations have resumed demanding a stop to the construction of Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines for oil transportation as campaigners and experts say these pipelines would threaten Native American reservations yet create only a few dozen permanent jobs. These conflicts reflect deeper issues than sheer disagreements about economic interests and land ownership – they reveal two fundamentally different approaches to relating with nature. Below, I explain how viewing the planet as a supplier of resources or as a provider of nurturance may even determine our success in living sustainably as a global community.

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Rural women – our hope for a more sustainable planet

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Enhancing agricultural and rural development – and achieving the 2030 sustainable development goals (SDGs) – largely depends on empowering rural women who make up over a quarter of the total world population. This demographic plays such a critical role in global health and food security that every year since 2008, the United Nations (UN) has encouraged us to appreciate their contributions and acknowledge their struggles on the International Day of Rural Women in mid-October. Let’s discuss how rural women are linked to each of our lives and look at how they are affected by the 17 SDGs.

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What is a sustainable diet? – a vision from the FENS conference

Climate change may be on everyone’s lips, but we are only just beginning to see how our diets might need to change to help prevent it and deal with the challenges of a growing population. I heard more about the question of sustainable diets at a series of sessions at the FENS conference on nutrition last month that I attended in my capacity as nutrition subject specialist for Global Health database.  Dr Karl von Koerber of the Sustainable Nutrition Working Group in Munich, Germany gave us the best view of what might constitute sustainable diet in Europe. It looks more like this:

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than this:

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World Water Day 2014

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World Water Day (WWD) is held annually on 22 March as a means of focussing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. This year’s theme for WWD on Saturday is “water and energy”, to collectively bring attention to the water-energy relationship, highlighting the 768 million people that currently lack access to water and the 1.3 billion without access to electricity.  According to the UN, in order to meet the demands of a growing population, 40% more water and 50% more energy will be needed by 2030. WWD 2014 aims to facilitate the development of policies that link the public and private sector in order to move towards future energy security and sustainable water use.

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