Gender and climate
–food and energy as a sustainable strategy for entrepreneurship
/Lotta Hedström’s presentation in AWEPA entrepreneurship seminar in Dar es Salaam 090615
Dear parliamentary and business friends!
Rafiki kutoka Africa, Africa Mashariki, Europe na siasi!
On this very day in my home parliament; the Swedish Riksdag, the most
important debate of this year and in the years to come is held –one
scrutinising our new important climate bill. Tomorrow is the voting and a
historic decision will give directions for a number of years
For me as a green politician it is a great victory to finally have reached
a point after ten years of arguing, that the climate change is of
extremely serious concern.
A fresh report from International Livestock research Institute in Nairobi
tells us that one million km2 will be sterile in Africa when the climate
gets hotter. Even with reduced emissions half a million km2 will be
In our country farmers are a threatened species. The few that still exist
are mostly men.
These days most of them regard themselves as entrepreneurs, since no one
produces only for his family, but for the market and especially for the
European market. There was a great enthusiasm among many farmers in 1995
when we were about to enter the EU.
Export possibilities were seen as the ultimate solution to lack of
profitability. At that time I was a devoted farmer’s wife, but I had my
doubts and unfortunately I was right: still most farmers complain about
low prices and less subsidies, even though we export food and agricultural
products for approximately 4 billons € a year.
What has happened in the meantime between 1995 and today are four
1 Among the growing number of conscious consumers, the interest for
food quality is growing fast in northern Europe. People don’t want fast
food and industrially refined bulk, but ethically produced, unique,
organic and homemade! The “slow food” movement is a success as an answer
to fast food.
Fair trade labelled goods from developing countries is more popular than
ever. More and more north Europeans are prepared to pay more for quality
and especially for small scale products from developing countries. This is
of certain interest since the export focus on global trade has been
dominant for so long.
2 At the same time the climate awareness now also demands to
drastically diminish the global freights, change to fossil free fuels and
consequently to cut transport volumes.
3 Female representation in all sectors of life is fast growing, even
in business if not in the largest companies. What characterises female SME
entrepreneurship is that it is sustainable and durable, it is
environmentally friendly, it is recourse saving, it is less prone to
corruption and it is based on traditional knowledge with an innovate touch.
4 Due to massive criticism the European Union’s common agricultural
policy CAP finally set out a long term program to limit the agricultural
subsidies. Both for non-protectionist reasons, as well as for cutting the
total EU-budget. Less direct support for products and instead more for,
for example rural development and climate work.
So the real big shift for farmers by us is actually taking place now by
slightly turning the eyes away from the big common markets in EU and WTO
and back to smaller markets again. Shifting from food as ‘a Commodity
amongst others’, to farmers being paid for bio topical services, energy
production, sustainability work and legal habitat protection.
More and more female, small scale & home bound producers come out as the
winning entrepreneurs also in the countryside with traditionally made food
stuff or with unique recipes with a local touch.
And around the world poor people always have survived on what they can
grow at home, more than what is sold away for cash. Land and secure crops
means food for the children - that is surely something every female, small
scale, home bound self sufficient farmer have been knowing all through
history. ‘Local’ in that sense, means “as always”….
Finally in many developing countries the right for governments to keep the
power over their own food production and not fall into the arms of foreign
demands, makes them emphasise the local and the domestic production, in
order not be too dependent on foreign trading terms.
Now we also have the discussion of bio crops competing with food
production and it becomes hotter and hotter: Suddenly everyone is
concerned with starving people and poor countries, even those who never
used to bother, like oil producers and nuclear power fans… All arguments
that would put bio fuel in the dark corner seem to be allowed.
Truth is that bio fuel production areas worldwide are only roughly 2
percent of the total cultivated area, while cash crops for export such as
cotton, tobacco, flowers, soybeans for animal breeding etc, actually
occupies a lot more valuable land. I think the figure is around 20%.
The main controversy is therefore not between food-or-bio fuels, but still
between food crops-or-cash crops.
In sum the challenges are:
-Small scale, often female, farmers still need to produce food for
survival and still are forced to stick to their neglected local market and
-Poor countries often are forced to open up for exploitation and may lose
control over national food production and their food sovereignty.
-Farmers in the north, mostly men, notice that the support for their
“cheap, big and fast” production is sinking. Instead quality, local
produce and organic is asked for.
(Pattern seems to be: What is ‘new’ in the North gets closer and closer to
what is ‘old’ in the South….!)
- Climate concern forces us all to change the fossil fuel driven economy
towards renewable energy and bio fuels – where shall that be produced in
order not to compete?
All in all: people and countries in the global North as well as in the
global South need good sufficient food and enough cash and renewable fuel!
FOOD SOVEREIGNTY simply must be combined with CLIMATE ADAPTATION and Green
So what is now the solution to this mess?
1 Let us all revive the consciously supported local market,
where rules, subsidies and trading don’t regard food only as a commodity
among others! Let rural people pick up the traditional knowledge of
especially women in refining and cooking and invite the surrounding world
to share and cherish these local products! Pluralism enriches the world –
but Kentucky fried chicken everywhere outside Kentucky, impoverish us both
nutrition-wise and culturally…
2 Unleash the creativity in women’s entrepreneurship and
cooperatives. Female leadership, knowledge and skill offer the new problem
solving dimension that the world is waiting for. The old patriarchal
economy has definitely come to its ultimate end by failing to care
properly for the needs of people.
3 Unleash the potential of fermented biogas from
agricultural leftovers. This doesn’t steal land from food and it offers a
prime solution for threefold climate rescue worldwide! It reduces the need
for fossil fuels; it is lower in itself than any other renewable in
CO2-emissions and the leftovers after fermenting the gas is a high quality
Farmers at all sizes and economies worldwide can sell biogas for cash and
still keep up a multi desired quality food production.
4 At last I would briefly like to spread the urgent message
of GDR- Greenhouse Development Rights.
In front of the huge and deadly important UN negotiations in Copenhagen in
December this year for a new Kyoto-protocol, we need not to get stuck in
There simply has to be a new and embraced protocol in order to keep
control of the CO2 and other GHG-emissions.
But at the same time the needs of poverty alleviation in the global South
must be taken into account. There simply mustn’t be a stale mate
situation where the South says that the North shall do all the climate
work themselves, since it is true that the North are those who caused most
of the problems. And the North must not neglect the rights of poor
countries in the South to see to the development needs of their countries.
The counting method of GDR offers a fair way of sharing burdens that
measures the size of the population, the economic strength in each country
and combines it with the obligation for all countries to curb greenhouse
gas emissions before it all tips over. This is the ultimate emergency
mobilization and we, the people of the world, must now be able to combine
Capacity with shared Responsibility in order to rescue us all.
Climate challenge urges us to find new or old solutions and methods to
phase out the dead end-fossil era. It has to bring out the innovative and
creative energy, i.e. the entrepreneur in rich and poor and small and big
in man and woman.
It even opens up for offensive and proactive entrepreneurship that builds
a low energy and human friendly, decentralised global society!
The renaissance of the Local Market, of Women’s neglected skills, the
promise of Biogas and the negotiation model of Greenhouse Development
Rights is what can bring forward a new historic Climate protocol.
Kilimu na chakula kwanza,
Biogas na Greenhouse Development Rights kwanza!