Full Podcast - UNEP Global Environment Outlook-4, Eugenie Sage, Ecoexpo and EU Organics Research

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This edition of prism webcast news has a strong focus on sustainability going from the �united nations global environment outlook report to the election of Eugenie Sage to the Canterbury Regional Council and an upcoming Ecoexpo promoting sustainability in Christchurch and to finish off with a look at the European Unions Quality Low Input Food Project dealing with research into organic agriculture.

  1. United Nations Environment Programme Global Environment Outlook 4 (GEO-4) report
  2. Eugenie Sage Elected to Canterbury Regional Council
  3. ECOEXPO - Christchurch
  4. European Union Quality Low Input Food Project on organics

Global Environment Outlook 4 - Our Common Future Part II

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recently released the Global Environment Outlook 4 (GEO-4) report which is an extensive review of the state of the global environment in 2007. The GEO-4, is published 20 years after the World Commission on Environment and Development (the Brundtland Commission) produced its seminal report, Our Common Future. The GEO-4 report is the latest in UNEP’s series of flagship reports on the state of the global environment, assesses the current state of global atmosphere, land, water and biodiversity, and describes what has changed in those two decades.

The major environmental threats identified in the report are:

  • climate change;
  • increase in CO2 in making the oceans more acid, threatening corals and molluscs;
  • decline of fish stocks;
  • Nutrients running off farmland increasingly cause algal blooms, and sometimes affect whole ecosystems (such as in the Gulf of Mexico) through dead zones without oxygen;
  • the rate of extinction of species through biodiversity loss
  • the challenge of feeding a growing population;
  • loss of fertile land through degradation;
  • dwindling amount of fresh water available for humans and other creatures to share;
  • unsustainable production and consumption;
  • higher energy use;
  • poor urban air quality;
  • risk that environmental damage could pass unknown points of no return;

All of which collectively put humanity and the future of our civilisation at risk.

GEO-4 acknowledges that technology can help to reduce people’s vulnerability to environmental stresses, but says there is sometimes a need “to correct the technology-centred development paradigm”. It is an urgent call for action as the GEO-4 also warns that we are living far beyond our means. The human population is now so large that “the amount of resources needed to sustain it exceeds what is available… humanity’s footprint [its environmental demand] is 21.9 hectares per person while the Earth’s biological capacity is, on average, only 15.7 ha/person… “.

I spoke to Dr. Peter King the Coordinating Lead Author for Chapter 10 which is entitled “Placing the Environment at the Core of Decision Making - Options for Action.”


Eugenie Sage Elected to Environment Canterbury

Former Forest and Bird worker Eugenie Sage was recently elected by the voters of the Selwyn-Banks Peninsula Canterbury regional council electorate to represent them on the� Environment Canterbury (Ecan) council. At the time of her election she said she was “surprised, delighted and humbled”. Water was the key issue in the election which saw many new faces on the Ecan council, mostly independents with a strong focus on the need for greater sustainable management of the regions water resources.

On the surprise result of her being elected Eugenie said, “It’s an interesting result - such a strong message from the electorate that people want water taken more seriously and a stronger approach to sustainability.”

I spoke to her about her election and about water and the other sustainability issues she wants to address as an Ecan councillor.

ECOEXPO - Christchurch

The organisers of the Ecoexpo describe it as an opportunity to learn about realistic and achievable changes that can be made in everyday life to live more sustainably. They understand that change isn’t easy, and that we all have different reasons for doing so; for our children, for the future, to save money, to save the environment… whatever the reason, they want to help to make a difference. The exhibitors at Ecoexpo New Zealand are passionate about sustainable living, in every aspect of the home and business. You can live well, while still protecting the planet both for you and our future generations to come.

There will be a broad range of exhibitors featuring a range of environmentally friendly products and services that are available to you. There will also be a range of music and entertainment, food for you to eat, and some competitions for the kids.

The small entry fee of $8.00 per person (children under 16 free) gives you all-day access to the seminars and workshops, as well as the opportunity to browse a wide selection of exhibitor stands.

Ecoexpo New Zealand will be open to the public on:

Saturday and Sunday 10th & 11th November 2007.

Open from 10 - 6 both days.

Pioneer Stadium, 75 Lyttleton Street, Spreydon, CHRISTCHURCH.

I interviewed one of the organisers Anita Ritchie to get a more in depth picture of what will be happening at the Ecoexpo.


European Union Quality Low Input Food Project

The Quality Low Input Food project aims to improve quality, safety and reduction of cost in the European Union organic and “low input” food supply chains. Early results of the �12 million 4-year Quality Low Input Food (QLIF) study indicate organic fruit and vegetables contain 40% more antioxidants in organic produce compared to non-organic foodstuffs. There were also higher levels of other beneficial minerals such as iron and zinc. Professor Leifert of Newcastle University, who leads that project says: “There is enough evidence now that the level of good things is higher in organics.”

However, this is only the starting point for their research as at present their project is not so much focused on demonstrating nutritional differences between organic and conventional foods (based on the literature available from 4 years ago they were already convinced that there are systematically positive differences in organic food), but on identifying which components of the organic production system contribute to these differences. As such they are currently looking at which parts of organic production system components actually affect food composition, for example, fertilisation, crop protection, variety choice and rotation design.�

I spoke to Professor Leifert of Newcastle University and asked him to explain exactly what the Quality Low Input Food project is currently working on.

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