Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Climate Change and Sustainable Development: Ethical Perspectives on Land Use and Food Production

From 30th May to 2nd June 2012 the 10th Congress of the European Society for Agricultural and Food Ethics (EurSafe) which will be held in Tübingen (Germany). The conference theme is Climate Change and Sustainable Development: Ethical Perspectives on Land Use and Food Production.
Climate change is one of the major framing conditions for sustainable development of agriculture and food production. This is connected to ongoing changes in and of land-use practices which are related to local, regional and global scales, often dubbed as ‘glocal’ situations. That characterisation also applies to the closely related land and waters use domains of forestry and fisheries.
Agricultural and food ethics and its adjacent fields need to address well known, but aggravated ‘old’ problems. These are, among others, desertification due to temperature increase, changing precipitation regimes, unsustainable and/or unfair land-use and water regimes, pressure on arable land due to the loss of coastal areas, soil degradation and suburban sprawl, and the strain placed on both environment and animal welfare as a consequence of a growing worldwide demand for animal products. Also the manifold socio-economic implications on justice and fairness have to be investigated from different ethical perspectives.
At the same time, however, climate change creates specific effects: There are and will be new irreversible changes of natural and anthropogenic systems. Mitigation and adaptation measures to counter or slow down climate change have already resulted in considerable changes in agri- and silvicultural land-use. This is mainly but not only due to the significant increase in growing plants for energy supply (“biofuels”). Another perspective is the purchase or long-term tenancy of arable land or of water rights in the countries of the global south by wealthy nations and by transnational enterprises. In the case of animal production, specific dilemmas arise when a narrow focus on carbon efficiency favours intensive production systems which are decoupled from many traditional agricultural considerations.
These issues are only some of the many dimensions which demand reflection from an agricultural and food ethics perspective and thus examination by the community of scholars involved in EurSafe. The 10th EurSafe Congress will address the topic of climate change and sustainable development under four main perspectives: (1) food production, (2) preservation of natural resources, (3) lifestyles (4) general philosophical and historical issues of climate change, sustainable development and food ethics. There are overlaps, so sessions within the programme will examine different foci providing a stimulating and challenging array of contributions to the Congress.

More information about the 1oth EurSafe Congress can be found at the Congress website.

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