Sufficiency and the Good Life
On July 29, humans will have consumed the renewable resources available in 2019. Everything we consume after this date will be at the expense of future generations and the natural resilience of our planet.
Earth Overshoot Day (EOD) is the day that the demand for resources in a given year exceeds what the earth can regenerate in the same year.
In addition to focusing on re-use and recycling, this year we want to take a closer look at the sustainability strategy of sufficiency, which can be explained as ‘enough is enough’ or ‘less is more’. Understandably, industries and economies geared towards permanent growth have reservations about sufficiency as a sustainability strategy. But without it, meeting our CO2 targets and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be extremely difficult.
Sufficiency in Biovision's work
On national, international or individual levels of consumption, sufficiency is important to Biovision. Our specialists and experts explain the approach related to their project work:
We decide to live a sufficient lifestyle when we realize that it helps lead a happy and sustainable life. In order to postpone Earth Overshoot Day (#movethedate), we, as a society and economy as a whole, need to become more sufficient and more frugal. We also have to switch from a quantity-oriented to a circular economy. A circular economy takes social and environmental costs into account, focuses on service and user experience, produces quality instead of quantity, and earns its profits primarily by providing services for long-lasting products. In other words, everything that we want as consumers. As citizens, we want a good environment that offers us pleasant neighbourhoods, local recreation, cultural activities, sports facilities, short commutes and relaxation. This aligns with the idea of sufficiency. If we strive for a more sufficiency-based Switzerland, we will improve our quality of life and also make our contribution to the global development goals (SDGs). The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Switzerland brings universities, research centers, civil society organizations, companies and other interested parties together to create innovative solutions for implementing Agenda 2030 and global development goals. www.sdsn.ch
Sufficiency means saying goodbye to the philosophy of endless growth. Increased efficiency alone is not enough to achieve the sustainability goals of Agenda 2030 when an ever-growing population consumes more and more. Increased consumer awareness of responsible consumption is important but not enough. It is also necessary to change political frameworks and control mechanisms so that producers and companies are motivated to act according to the principles of sustainability and are rewarded for supporting sufficiency.
In agriculture, these changes would entail that political framework conditions (in Africa, in Switzerland and internationally) and financing mechanisms (like subsidies or research and development funds) be adjusted to promote sustainable and sufficient production and trading systems—for example, according to the principles of agroecology. Agroecological principles ensure that only necessary fertilizer is used and that artificial fertilizers are avoided in order to close local nutrient cycles by using compost, animal dung or green manure. Agroecology ultimately aims to dispense with all pesticides by avoiding or controlling pests and diseases sustainably from the outset. Rather than using pesticides, it supports intelligently structured production systems that use techniques like mixed crops, crop rotation or push-pull. In terms of trade, agroecology relies on local value chains and focuses on positive social development rather than on profit as the primary measure for success.
In order to compile knowledge about agroecology and to present its advantages in an understandable way, we have created the Agroecology Infopool, where you can get more information about our work in the field of political dialogue and advocacy. www.agroecology-pool.org
Sufficiency is not only a topic for sustainability policy and a success strategy for ecologically minded companies, but also for private consumption. A component of personal happiness is embedded in it. When you buy, and cook in an informed way, you simplify your life and take a load off of the environment. "Clever shopping" means buying environmentally friendly and fair products. I recommend a test purchase at www.clever-konsumieren.ch to get an idea about the sustainability of your own consumption patterns. People who buy seasonally and locally, for example at the market or from a farm shop, pay attention to labels and only buy as much as they really need. They forego the gigantic selection at the wholesaler and in turn support the environment, the producers and their own health. They make new acquaintances with like-minded people, get to know the organic farmers and sellers at the market personally, and also learn about the stories behind the vegetables or new ways to prepare them. Hence our CLEVER tip for Earth Overshoot Day 2019: Less is more! Buy only what you really need and avoid food waste that also wastes energy, natural resources and money. www.clever-konsumieren.ch