MY VIEWS 1999 : January-February


January/13/1999/ELAN: Las diferentes caras de

Desarrollo Sostenido

Estimado Prof. Moya. Con todo mi respeto, Desarrollo Sostenido tiene

differentes caras, usted menciona en su e-mail dos de ellas: desarrollo

ambientalmente sustentado y desarrollo sustentable. Hay por lo menos 5

caras mas, lo que complica el uso de ese termino para unos y justifica su

uso para otros.



On Wed, 13 Jan 1999, [iso-8859-1] Moya wrote:

> Compañeros de RED:


>sobre el cual de forma insistente hemos dicho que es un

>Despacho clave para el futuro del país en función de poder alcanzar un

>verdadero Desarrollo AMBIENTALMENTE Sustentado, concepto claro con el

>cual debemos suplantar la vacía frase Desarrollo Sostenible o Sustentable

>(mala traducción) porque la misma es una expresión mas, carente de

>contenido y que los amos del poder o muchos de los que aspiran a serlo,

>usan con frecuencia o como "moda" para seguir manipulando y chantajeando

a nuestros pueblos.


January/22/1999/ELAN: Re: World Bank Money for

Nicaragua Reforestation

A few comments for your visit to Nicaragua:

1) if this program is designed to reforest and to rehabilitate critical

areas to lessen the impact of another mitch, it indicates that those trees

should never be cut again or those critical areas should not be put into

forest production systems that make then more vulnerable to dissaster, why

do we need to create a better market for those forest products?;

2) just planting trees is not feasible sustainability model regardless of

the funding available. A plan is needed to design regional/country

reforestation programs that take into account social, economic, and

environmental concerns in all deforested areas, not just priority/critical

deforested areas. If not checked, reforestation programs may worsen

existing inequalities; 3) reforestation programs have to be carried out in way

consistent with the dynamics of the remaining forest areas, and not in

isolation; and 4) deforestation did not take place because forest had no

values, but because the economic development system at that time made them

to have a negative value due to the barriers they were believed to

impose on popular development models. No forest meant usually higher

price for land and secured land tittle, and in many places this is still

the situation hunting remaining forest areas today.

Your comments are welcome;



Note: I just left a piece of the original posting for context.

On Wed, 20 Jan 1999, ACERCA wrote:

> According to the bank, one of the major obstacles currently facing

> Nicaragua's forestry management is the lack of entrepreneurial expertise to

> take advantage of existing opportunities for a more effective, productive

> and sustainable management of forest and land resources.

> "Unless a good market for forestry products can be developed, trees will

> continue to be looked upon as obstacles to agriculture and be cut down or

> burnt down, since they present no economic benefit for the landowner or

> shifting cultivator" said Paola Agostini, environmental economist of the

> World Bank and task manager of the project.

> According to the World Bank, it is clear that deforestation caused by human

> development and the expansion of the agriculture frontier has increased the

> devastating effects of Hurricane Mitch.


January/25/1999/ELAN: Wold Bank money for

Nicaragua Reforestation

Dear Ileana. A close look at deforestation causality and patterns
locally and regionally in Central America points out that the two priority
components of any regional/country plan to deal with deforestation must be
1) an agricultural program to deal the the past and present impact of
agricultural practices on forests so we can move into the future since
forest convertion to agriculture acounts for most of deforestation
in Central America historically; and b) a forestry development program to
minimize/balance this type of pressure on the remaining forest areas since
these types of pressures should be expected to increase as the resource
base deteriorates and the number of stateholders increases.
However, a holistic look at deforestation causality and patterns
indicates that there are many other pressures on deforestation,
locally/regionally, and internationally at play and should not be ignored.
The point I wanted to make is that two types of policies are needed
to efficiently approach the problem holistically: a) a deforestation
policy, to deal specifically with the state of deforestated areas and
their productive suitability(exploitation, protection, preservation); and
b) a forestry policy, to deal specifically with the state of remanining
forest areas, and their productive suitability; and c) these two policies
must be implemented in an integrated and holistic fashion.
When Mitch hit, the only concern apparently on development
policies in the region/countries, specially international, has been on the
state of remaining forest areas and their productive suitability, with
economic exploitation at the botton of the land suitability index.
I will read your articles with interest;


Note: Just a few lines left from the original message for context.

 On Mon, 25 Jan 1999, rosemarie wrote:

> I agree, with Lucio's comments on the WB money for Nicaragua
> Reforestation. I agree too that deforestation did not take place
> american governments only as palliatifs and not as the main tools to
> define and set up alternative agricultural and forest strategies, able
> of start answering the region's urgent problems.
> I would said, instead of Lucio's suggestion "A plan is needed to design
> regional/country reforestation programs that take into account
> social....etc" A plan is needed to design regional/coutry agricultural
>and forest development programs that.....".
> I have being working in this idea for some time an I send you a
> preliminary research projet proposal on an agroforestery strategy for
> Central America and a little article about the after Mitch. I would like
> to have your comments. Sorry for my english, Sincerely, Ileana

January/25/1999/ELAN: Re: World Bank money for

Nicaragua reforestation

Dear Tom. Your comment indicates that the path to sustainability is

a difficult one. Corners could be cut and pains could be saved if we

start learning from the past, which indicates that errors were made, and

we have to find ways of correcting them. One way to start is to stop

planning in isolation ignoring the true social, economic, and

environmental needs at the local level so they shine at the global level.

The international aid and funding should be put into these types of

projects, but in a more controled and organized fashion;



On Mon, 25 Jan 1999, Tom wrote:

> Ileana,


> No amount of international (WB) funding will change forestry unless there

> is political will from local government and private industry. An

> agroforestry strategy must compel the families that control these two

> sectors to want to change. Only then will social and economic policies

> be changed that will impact the causes of deforestation.


February/01/1999/ELAN: Re: "Why healthy cities

mean a healthy planet"

You can define happiness in different ways, just as you can define

sustainable development in different ways. However, true happiness is

a funtion money, love, and friendship. If you got them all, to the

maximum, then you are enjoying optimal happiness, which is more than

maximum economic happiness, or maximum social happiness or maximun

friendship related happiness.

I wonder how much true economic, social, and friendship related

happiness you can buy in BC with $ 10,000 a year given current conditions!

Once humans move from one place to another, their definition of happiness

changes, and it ussually follows the standard definition of happiness in

the new place since there is usualy a need to go in as unnoticed as

possible when adjusting to your new environment.

The natural process for humans is to move to greener lands in

times of need so migration from developing countries(from the country

side) to developed countries(to cities) can be considered a natural

process that could efficienly be stop/reversed if we make the pastures in

developing countries(in the country side) green again or greener. Hence,

just building environmental/economic great walls in developed

countries(around cities),in time, would not work. Besides, rich

economies(cities) need a "healhty" influx of immigrants to

replace older rich people.

For sure the average human in developing countries would maximize

happiness having an income of $ 10,000 a year in their localities, but how

long that happiness would last. Hence, relativity is another factor to be

considered when looking at maximizing happiness. Another iron law is do

not do to others what you would not accept/consider appropriate for your

self. If $ 10,000 a year would maximize our happines, then let's

calculate the cost of total happiness of BC annually, substract it from

BC's total wealth, and if positive, leave a confort marging and

then donate the left over to other countries/places where there

is not happiness. It does not sound realistic. Hence, If we can not stop

the rich from wanting to be richer, how can we stop the poor for wanting

to live decently?. Both the rich and the poor have to learn to be more

responsible socially, economically, and environmentally, if not, at the

end both will perish regarless of levels of happiness.

Finally, healthy cities may mean a healthy URBAN planet as they

indicate that the footprint is found outside the cities(in developing

countries), where most of the externalities are piling up at this

moment(where most of the poorest are usually living).

Comments are welcome;




Note: just a little piece of original for context.

On Sat, 30 Jan 1999, John Newcomb wrote:

> In the name of saving the planet, a bunch of rich people in rich cities

> in the world's most highly urbanized countries now want to stop others

> from sharing their good fortune. These environmentalists know what's best

> for the barefoot migrants -- the exact opposite of what the migrants want

> for themselves. According to a recent article in these pages, Prof. Rees

> has actually calculated the exact income necessary for "maximum

> happiness" -- $10,000 a year.

> As cities get richer, they get cleaner. The phenomenon is reliable enough

> to be a law.

> But it still doesn't satisfy the most basic objection of the greens.

> Prof. Rees calculates "ecological footprints" to demonstrate how our

> high-consumption, high-waste metropolises degrade the environment over

> large areas far beyond their own borders. If everybody became as rich and

> wasteful as the average North American, he says, three Earths would be

> necessary to support their needs.

> In other words, it's impossible. Getting rich is a recipe for

> environmental disaster.

> The equation doesn't include the positive effects that rich cities exert

> over their own hinterlands, which are considerable. But even if the net

> effect is negative, will it always be so? Rich city-dwellers no longer

> light their street lamps with whale oil, for instance; the development of

> alternative fuels a century ago stopped at least one global ecological

> catastrophe. And today new technology is steadily reducing the negative

> environmental effects of the replacement fuels.

> That happens because rich people in cities are the ones who innovate.

> They are also the ones who care about the environment, perhaps simply

> because they have the most to lose from environmental collapse.

> Another iron law: There are no poor environmentalists.


Fabruary/14/1999/ELAN: Re: Amazon deforestation

increased 27% in 1998

Dear Joseph. Increasing rate of deforestation in Brazil and other places

despite stronger regulation should not be a surprised. As long as there

are no socially based incentives within "environmentally friendly economic

development", the process of forest land conversion to non-forest uses

seems to be bound to continue apparently in an irrational manner.

Otherwise, why do social forces should care?.

Comments are welcome;


On Sat, 13 Feb 1999, Joseph wrote:

> In case you haven't heard:

> Preliminary reports (from the Brazilian Ministry of Environment) indicate

> that Amazonian deforestation in 1998 increased 27% since last year

> (1997). See attached article from Reuters.

> Total amount of deforestation in Brazil's Amazon region is calculated at

> 53.2 million hectares (133 million acres) since 1972. This area -- about

> the size of France -- represents 13 percent of the total.

> Ongoing negotiations with the IMF over major budget cuts are threatening to

> weaken government programs to curb deforestation and increase the amount

> of protected areas in the region. However, the overall poor economic

> scenario in >Brazil may lead to decreased deforestation rates in the future

> as less money >will be available for other investments in the region

> (private or government) >that may contribute to deforestation.


February/15/1999/FAO-MFCAL CONFERENCE : Outlined

Framework for Discussion


I believe that if we look at agriculture from the point of view of

"sustainable agriculture", the piece wise framework is appropriate as each

of the seven modules could refer to agriculture as the dominant land use

and could capture the internal dynamics within the agricultural system.

But we know that the agricultural system is a subsystem of the deforested

area land system, which in turn, it is a subsystem of the land system.

Hence, agriculture has internal(within and between agricultural sectors)

and external(system-system) impacts. In other words, agriculture

interacts with other land use systems and it should not be looked at in

isolation. The only way to account for system-system dynamics is to look

at agriculture from the point of view of "land sustainability". From this

angle, we could be able to see how the seven pieces of the framework

relates to agriculture in isolation and how agriculture performs in

relation with the same characteristics in the other elements of the land

system. This information could be important for integrating agricultural

and non-agricultural policies and for linking agricultural performance to

remaining forest areas and deforested areas in non-agricultural

activities. However, I understand that a focus on land sustainability

would take the discussion away from its "agriculture centered " goals, but

I will point out below some confusing aspects I see related to the way the

conference has started according to me.


This questions link agriculture and "land", which I understand means other

land uses(forestry, cattle ranching, residential development,.,....).

Since both agriculture and land are multi-function and related, then there

seems to be a connection with the "land sustainability view" I indicated

before, but with an apparent "non system way of thinking". Now my

questions to the organizers of the conference is, are those seven

components of the framework to be used to look at "sustainable

agriculture" or to look at "land sustainability". If the goal is the

first then, the framework started right. However, if the goal is the

second, I believe, we have started backwards. I suggest that if we are

going to move following a multi-disciplinary approach, we must follow a

system thinking approach from the beginning. If we do that, I see the

following advantages: a) all our differences of opinion will withstand the

hit since everything would be more transparent; b) unreasonable positions

will be easily washed out; and c) perhaps then people will bring in their

own ideas. Other wise I see a difficult road ahead. Have a nice weekend;

This questions link agriculture and "land", which I understand means other

land uses(forestry, cattle ranching, residential development,.,....).

Since both agriculture and land are multi-function and related, then there

seems to be a connection with the "land sustainability view" I indicated

before, but with an apparent "non system way of thinking". Now my

questions to the organizers of the conference is, are those seven

components of the framework to be used to look at "sustainable

agriculture" or to look at "land sustainability". If the goal is the

first then, the framework started right. However, if the goal is the

second, I believe, we have started backwards. I suggest that if we are

going to move following a multi-disciplinary approach, we must follow a

system thinking approach from the beginning. If we do that, I see the

following advantages: a) all our differences of opinion will withstand the

hit since everything would be more transparent; b) unreasonable positions

will be easily washed out; and c) perhaps then people will bring in their

own ideas. Other wise I see a difficult road ahead.

Have a nice weekend;



February/17/1999/FAO-MFCAL CONFERENCE: System Thinking

Dear Friends. Every single participation so far has been made within a

system thinking point of view, from different angles, be it directly or

indirectly. Hence, my previous comments may have some ground as the need

for a holistic view at the internal interaction within agriculture and the

external interactions between agriculture and other land use systems

exist. However, what we need is to develop a model for a

socio-eco-economic rational man, rural and urban, that can be easily apply

and monitor in practice. The apparent "irrational behavior associated

with resource use of any type" can be explain by structural failures

within this socio-eco-economic system. To do this, we need to develop and

polish new theoretical grounds, which is what I think is the core of this

conference: how can we help farmers to withstand the pressures undermining

their livelihood and development choices?. We can not do this without

theory to support the practice if we want to produce sustainable solutions

or ideas.

I understand the position of Mr. Grinshaw. Farmer needs practical

solutions now, but practical solutions are not usually endorsed outside

the local level because they are not usually based on "scientific

methods". I also understand the local bias towards people out of the

local environment because they are perceived as not having practical

experience, yet they have the "theoretical key" that usually justifies

funding. We should understand, that both practice and theory are needed

to move ahead toward sustainability. Yes, it is true that agriculture is

not presently sustainable, but it is sustained. So the issue is simple,

how can we move toward sustainability without an agree upon sustainability

theory? how can we measure and monitor the transition from a sustained

system to a sustainable one?. The future will move into this direction

given unsustainable conditions. Where are the other alternatives to the

proposed framework by FAO?. Perhaps it would be better to know, what the

organizers point of view is so we can move from there.

Let's be more positive and patient, and if we disagree in something, let's

criticize it while providing at the same time an alternative view,

framework, or idea. Just providing views against other views is not a two

ways communication process.




February/19/1999/FAO-MFCAL CONFERENCE: Summary of Contributions Sent

Dear Ag-Success-L subscribers

We would like to sincerely thank all of you who have taken the time to

contribute your ideas during the last two weeks. Below is an analysis of

our exchange during Week 3 of our E-Conference. The summary is based on

ideas sent in by more than 50 conferees. The analysis is organized around

the elements of the draft conceptual framework that was sent out for

comment at the beginning of week 2. Comments by various authors are noted

below under the corresponding concepts or categories within the framework

(the names of people contributing different ideas are noted in


This analysis is on ideas sent in as of 18 February (the last message

included in this analysis was by Nigh). As all of you know, many more

messages were sent in after this analysis was completed. These ideas, and

those that come in over the next 2 or 3 days, will be included in the

future sammaries.

a. Contributions/comments on the first Outline Framework (Q 1)

1. Scale and Geography

- Add cultural variations (Alexandra, Nigh, Gonzalves, Senanayake, De

Vries, Vanclay, Straka, Danderto, Moore, Mares, L=F8nning)

- Add social component (Vanclay, Straka); emphasize agriculture as a human

activity (Jannasch) with their organizations and institutions as

(potentially) enabling actors (Blokland) and age/gender issues (De Vries),

including pressures from external forces including the Green Revolution

(Straka, Bourdel)

- Agriculture is a human activity but land isn't , many functions of land

are not directly related to agriculture (Kazokas); put people and their

well-being on the land central (IGF, Miller, McGarry)

- What makes for both biodiversity and human health and pleasure in what

locations? (Grantham)

- Apply site-specific methods, systems, inventions, etc. (Falck)

- Include "aquatic ecosystems" under land (Kazokas)

- Accept perceptions of functions of agriculture and land among


to differ, which lead to incomprehension (Hijkoop, Staljanssens, Nath)

- Consider agriculture as an increasingly also urban activity (Nasr)

- Focus at least also on international consensus and activism to change

things; people working at all levels are important (Benbrook)

- Distinguish on-site and off-site impacts as changes at one scale have

effects on another scale (Staljanssens)

2. Time and Sequence

- transition to multifunctionality is unlikely without subsidy: we have to

figure how to put a value on sustainability, help those practicing it and

penalize those mining the land (Velez, Prreston)

- through scenarios and strategies long-term benefits become clearer than

through optimization (Staljanssens)

- include individual and family development in the short and long term


3. Multiple Functions

- Agriculture and land have not only economic, productive function (Nigh,

Zama): apply something like a Function-Value Matrix approach (Staljanssens)

- Include community agro-forestry (Salazar)

- Take this as starting point, rather than "Scale and geography" (Gulinck,

Meijerink), as other headings are dependent on choice of land use (IGF)

- Seeking multifunctionality may simply be refining our concept of "yield"


- Include aesthetic values (Vanclay)

- Warning: focus on multiple functions distract from the basic problem of

feeding 6 billion people without mining non-renewable resources, primarily

fossil fuels and phosphates, not to mention soil and water (Smith):

agriculture by its very nature reduces biodiversity and destroys ecosystems

(Kock); but sciente has developed ways to overcome this (Velez)

- Include multifunctionality of inputs (Holle)

- It all depends on how farming is done, including appropriate crop

protection (Ramseier)

4. Multiple Impacts (measuring, monitoring)

- Add monitoring techniques, including economic tools for non-market

valuation (Alexandra); change the ways in which presently "success" is

measured by FAO and the like(Benbrook)

- Even the most monofunctional types of agriculture are likely to have

hidden other functions (Gulinck)

- Next to the concept "synergism" for impacts of different kinds that

combine, use "concatenation" for impacts that trigger or participate to a

reaction chain of impacts (Staljanssens)

5. Trade-Offs (side-effects? passing expenses?)

- Need for "Ombudsman" for natural creatures (Salazar)

- Environmental accounting/auditing could be a tool, but we need to agree

on assessment criteria (Staljanssens)

6. Cross-functional Benefits

- Discover integrative approaches: practical "win-win" strategies to

achieving balance between agricultural production and environmental

conservation? (Norman)

- Can there be synergy between multiple functions? (Hijkoop)

- Develop wildlife as a source of income to farmers and see it as indicator

of health of the environment in which we live ( IGF)

7. Enabling Factors

- Add impediments (Alexandra, Norman, Meijerink), like present economic=

system, prices and markets (Hijkoop, Preston); how can we help farmers to

withstand the pressures undermining their livelihood and development

choices? (Munoz)

- Ensure that people in top of governments feel they have important role to

play viz viz local communities (Zama)

- seek for success stories that are not time- or context-specific but could

be globally applicable (Mares)

- Focus on successful cases at local, catchment, regional level: how was it

achieved, is it transferable, what are economics? (Mcgarry)

8. Additional Elements

- see it more as a system: structures, processes and relations between the

two: 3D rather than simple listing (Miller, Munoz, Bourdel, Neunteufel,


- replace the above headings by: "food and food security", "community life

and local culture" and "biodiversity" (Vanclay).

b. Interpretations of the multifunctional character of agriculture and land

(Q 2)

- A&LM are human activities that are multifunctional, have multiple

purposes and multiple outcomes; provide critical goods and services;

function as complex set of cultural interactions between humans and

natural systems (Alexandra, Grantham), including affective and

recreational functions (Carretero)

- paradox of obvious role of food security and safe food next to social,

cultural and ethical challenges of modern, affluent, Western consumer

society (L=F8nning): farmers are not the only stakeholders (Grimshaw)

- land is a life supporting system, directly by generating food, feed,

fodder, fuel and fiber, and indirectly by providing a fabric (ecosystem)

for human welfare (Vergunst, van Heemstra Norton, Grantham)

- development of clear contracts between stakeholders all over the world as

our needs of limited resources as a species are growing (Miller, Bourdel,


- Monofunctionality has only been an issue during 20th century and we now

experience "renaissance of multifunctionality"(Gulinck, Senanayake,

Neunteufel, Kleps); MFCAL is stating the obvious (Mares)

- Use Hueting's definition of functions as "possible uses of the

environment for human beings". These can be categorized into 4 groups:

regulatory, carrier, production and information (Meijerink)

- Safeguarding ecological and socio-economic processes makes what we call

multifunctionality, hence such processes are not externalities (Neunteufel,


- MFC of land is determined by diversity of natural flora and fauna it can

support, MFC of agriculture is directed to reproducing the same amount of

biodiversity that the land once supported (Page)

- MFCAL is simply maximum use of land without degradation"(Mcgarry)

c. Why it is important to discuss the issue of the multifunctional

character of agriculture and land?

- often narrow policy agendas dominate (Alexandra, Falck); these are

one-dimensional growth-economic with drawbacks on the other dimensions

(L=F8nning, Balasubramaniam)

- agriculture needs legitimacy that is appealing to next generation

(L=F8nning, Jannasch), applying people-centered technologies (Aspelund)

- use of (scarce) resources has wide-ranging impacts (Nugent)

- monofunctionality leads to 'lose-lose' situations (Danderto): degradation

of natural resources and, through the 'treadmill effect', to

underutilization of human resources (Vergunst)

- get people and their institutions to broaden their focus and see larger

part of the system (Miller, Ramseier)

- let all groups have say in decisions on land use, especially local

people: ultimately a political concept (van Heemstra, Nigh) in the sense

that it supposes political will (Staljanssens)

- land use policies affect agriculture and agricultural policies the use of

land, there is often a mismatch between the two (Zama, Tsuji, Magat)

- the wholeness is more than the sum of the parts; agriculture is more

than a business, it is a way of life (De Vries); holistic view is called

for (Hijkoop)

- most common thinking is monofunctional while reality of small or poor

farmers is complex multifunctionality (Holle)

- listing and valuing all functions of the land will increase options to

farmer and policy maker (IGF)

d. miscellaneous:

- avoid jargon (Jannasch, Orskov, Grantham, Keeney, Claridge, Thomson,

Kazokas, Lucastoli, Incoing, Uweb, Falck, Grimshaw, Ramseier, Ugas, Kleps,

Wissink) and long texts (Soshana), or have two separate conferences (Uweb)

- but don't exaggerate into using solely simplified language (Nigh) as

theory/policy people and practical people should learn from each other

(Sprinker) as they need each other (Munoz, Velez)

- openly welcome all forms of expression, including poetry, declarations

from NGO's, stories from struggling poor farmers or bureaucrats (Alexandra,


- let's move from the all encompassing conceptual to the grounded specifics