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Responsible Development vs. Sustainable Consumption: Nature and Technology
6 June 2019
16:45—18:00
KEY CONCLUSIONS
Modern consumption economy leads to resource depletion

The technological structure formed after [World War II, – Ed.]. The yearning people dilated production: buy–use–throwaway–buy-new. The extermination of resources as it is. This system was to serve the ‘golden billion’, and the Earth’s resources would have been enough for an infinitely long period. Right before our eyes, China and India changed bicycles for cars. Massive extermination of resources onset when the ‘golden billion’ system spread to the entire population of the Earth — Mikhail Kovalchuk, President of Kurchatov Institute National Research Centre.

According to the estimates of the Global Footprint Network, by 1 August of last year, the world economy has spent all of the natural resources, which could be restored in a year. Today, to regenerate the resources being consumed, the Earth should grow by 70% — Alexander Dynkin, President, Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences.

The experts convey alarming figures: we are to lose 1 million of animal biodiversity unless we change the way we produce and consume — Irina Bokova, Independent Director, Chairman of the Sustainable Development Committee, PhosAgro; Director General, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO (2009-2017) .

The introduction of sustainable development principles to agriculture assumes similar processes for all industries

We must look at the big picture when contemplating sustainable development goals. We cannot resolve agricultural issues while destroying the environment — Irina Bokova, Independent Director, Chairman of the Sustainable Development Committee, PhosAgro; Director General, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO (2009-2017) .

Business interests should not conflict with sustainable development

Business interests do not have to contradict the sustainable development aspirations. We can assume approaches that would contribute to business development, would create a win-win situation for business and society — Andrey Fursenko, Aide to the President of the Russian Federation.

ISSUES
Inefficient use of resources threatens the existence of humankind

Agriculture relates to 10 of the 18 sustainable development goals [by the United Nations, – Ed.] as it is tied to food security, health, environmental changes, biodiversity, clean water — Irina Bokova, Independent Director, Chairman of the Sustainable Development Committee, PhosAgro; Director General, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO (2009-2017) .

The damage caused by [the soil, – Ed.] erosion is 75 million tonnes of fertile land. It is happening in the United States, in India, in China. The Guardian last week published an article stating that 95% of our food is produced on the surface layer of the soil. [We] destroy this surface layer at a catastrophic rate. According to some estimates, only 50 harvests remain to be harvested if we continue to destroy our agricultural lands — Ilkka Herlin, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Cargotec Oyj.

In 2050, 10 billion people are to inhabit the Earth, which translates into +50% of today’s food — Andrey Guryev, Chief Executive Officer, Chairman of the Management Board, PhosAgro .

The impact of the economy of consumption is underestimated

The produce’s journey from field to table is hugely complex and laborious. So, it is all the more annoying to see that about 30% of food is thrown away — Elena Khlestkina, Deputy Director, Vavilov All-Russian Institute of Plant Genetic Resources Federal Research Centre.

SOLUTIONS
The general populations’ awareness of sustainable development values

What do I mean by the concept of sustainable development? On the supply side, this is the intellectual and other renewable resources priority. On the demand side, it is the focus on nonmaterial consumption. Sustainable development implies a rejection of the consumer society standards, a rejection of the mass culture values. We already see the digital economy, the knowledge economy, the ‘green economy’, and the experience economy. All these are sprouts, components of sustainable development — Alexander Dynkin, President, Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences.

I quote one of the UN studies conducted in 2017. In the Russian Federation, only 17% of people under 30 can explain what sustainable development is. The convergence of science and technology is exactly right. I would add one more thing – education, as it is the cornerstone of such a convergence — Kirill Babaev, Executive Director, LRC Publishing House.

The transition to technologies that promote the restoration of resources and the environment

NBIC-convergent technologies are the first stage in the establishment of convergent technologies as a basis for creating nature-like technologies. They are to reverse our technological structure back to the natural resource cycle — Mikhail Kovalchuk, President of Kurchatov Institute National Research Centre.

It is photosynthesis. Fields are to be as green as possible. Photosynthesis carries CO2 back to the soil, which contributes to plants nutrition. The carbon returns to the soil and facilitates its fertility — Ilkka Herlin, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Cargotec Oyj.

Tapping into the gene resources potential, which is mostly represented in genetic bio resource collections rather than on fields and pastures. In contrast to land resources, the biological resource is inexhaustible — Elena Khlestkina, Deputy Director, Vavilov All-Russian Institute of Plant Genetic Resources Federal Research Centre.

In the foreseeable future, there will be a shortage of livestock products. Therefore, people are to obtain protein from algae and insects — Elena Eremenko, Head of Moscow Office, Helmholtz Association .

Incentivizing the gradual abandonment of environmentally hazardous technologies

Best available techniques as a principle originally appeared in European environmental regulation as a result of a search for balance between industrial development and environmental challenges. The most out-dated, faulty technologies were forbidden. A gradual transition to better, more accessible technologies is the principle to lead the world to a target model, namely, nature-like technologies — Gleb Nikitin, Governor of Nizhny Novgorod Region.

[Considering] the GMO’s ban, our agriculture is becoming the most environmentally friendly in the world. We are to create technology for the mass production of environmentally friendly green products complying with the UN sustainable development principles. It is to take up one step forward, make us competitive amid geopolitical restrictions — Andrey Guryev, Chief Executive Officer, Chairman of the Management Board, PhosAgro .

The material was prepared by the Russian news agency TASS