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Sustainability and sectoral capability

03/10/2023

Sustainability and sectoral capability

Almost 50 decades ago, in the Swedish capital, the first United Nations Conference on Environment and Development was held. There, the idea of sustainable development was matured, an idea that would gain strength in new global actions, such as Eco-92 in Rio de Janeiro.

 

The investments of the past have borne fruit and, today, Sustainability is a cliché. It is no longer a competitive advantage, it is an expectation. The sustainable attitude has become an obligation and is growing as a habit for citizens, and a rule for companies.

 

And, in the anxiety to seek sustainable attitudes, the blurred lens of some vigilantes can commit serious injustices.

 

An example of this are proposals that certain organizations routinely launch, under the guise of (pseudo)sustainability. I refer to examples of “meatless Mondays” and other proposals that seek to ban the consumption of high-quality proteins, such as animal protein.

 

I do not seek here to launch ideas about the real motivations of these initiatives – after all, I could incur in committing the same injustices that afflict us. But, I reinforce the need for technical-scientific deepening in this debate that, in the face of the union of efforts in search of solutions, has permeated shallow paths, stranded in passionate arguments.

 

In this reverie of errors, myths arise that, at times, conflict with the principles of their militants. After all, is reducing meat consumption an idea that achieves the three pillars of sustainability? Those set out in the 2002 Policy Declaration of the UN World Summit in Johannesburg? Would this be economically viable, socially acceptable and have a low environmental impact?

 

In this analysis, a key word deserves reflection: capability.

 

For those who truly know the Brazilian agricultural sector, it is known that Brazil has natural characteristics that favor food production, being these characteristics of environmental, climatic, territorial and cultural order.

 

The vast availability of inputs, such as grains, water and land, allows for better competitiveness; the favorable climate provides both the availability of these inputs and the lower energy consumption in production systems; the integration system allows for better sanitary control and social impact. All this added to a very restrictive environmental legislation.

 

The also fifty-year-old poultry industry is an example of this, as is pig farming. Committed to the application of new technologies for productive gains with lower input demand, they follow strict protocols and invest in innovations to reduce impacts in initiatives that go from the farm to the transport of finished products. All this in labor-intensive production chains, with strong job and income generation, especially in less industrialized regions. They fix the man in the field and contribute to improving income in the city, with direct impacts on human development. At the same time, they offer affordable food, generate wealth for the country. In the Brazilian field, the production of a bird emits half the CO2 of a bird produced on British soil – information from the UK Department of Rural Development and Food.

 

Of course, all agricultural and livestock activities face constant challenges to maintain the balance between the use of natural resources and the production of affordable food. The need for constant improvement that allows for cleaner, more efficient and at the same time competitive production cannot be denied. After all, this is the true concept of sustainable development: that which allows for the necessary economic growth, ensuring the preservation of the environment and social development for current and future generations.

 

In this sense, the Brazilian Association of Animal Protein (ABPA) has been working hard on campaigns in favor of sustainable development, with support for initiatives to meet UN goals – the SDGs – especially on five objectives defined by the World Poultry Council as priorities. The hunger theme and the motto “no borders for food” are banners raised by the association and the sector, reinforcing to the world the Brazilian fitness to help in the global food supply.

 

Brazil’s responsibility as a major food provider for the world is further reinforced at this time when the world demands more food. The sustainable production of poultry, pork and eggs is a constant evolution, in which each initiative counts for this process, such as the service of diverse markets allows the distribution of products to the most different cultures, with added value to all cuts according to their needs. At the same time, several projects that will result in better production performance and lower losses have been initiated and/or completed over the last few years, such as initiatives being studied and implemented in production units, aimed at reducing waste while preserving quality.

 

Food security cannot be guaranteed without considering the fitness of different regions and their populations. There must be development for everyone, as it is necessary to recognize the limits and the responsibility that these impose on us. In the end, being sustainable means considering the essential nature of the environment. It is also considering that society needs sustainable development, balancing economic growth with sustainability, without destroying and also compensating for any necessary activities.

 

Ricardo Santin – Presidente of Brazilian Association of Animal Protein (ABPA)

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