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Book of Abstracts

11th IFOAM
Scientific Conference
11-15 August 1996
Copenhagen, Denmark

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Sustainability - The Role of Organic Agriculture W24

Spangenberg, Joachim H.

Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, D-42103 Wuppertal

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The study 227 »Towards Sustainable Europe« aims at quantifying sustainability targets for Europe. Its basic methodology is the environmental space concept, providing an input-based assessment of the maximum permittable use of energy and raw materials as well as qualitative cirteria for land use. Furthermore, the environmental space concept includes assuming an equitable distribution of resource use throughout the world, i.e. postulating a kind of human right to resource use. For energy, based on the IPCC recommondations, a reduction of 50% primary energy use by the year 2050 is considered necessary, including a fourfold increase the use of renewables. For material flows, according to our own calculations, an average reduction of 80-90% is needed in Europe. In agriculture, both for energy use and material flow reductions organic agriculture could be a first step to implement these targets. However, additional research is needed to identify measures for optimising organic farming in terms of material flow reduction. From the material flow calculation, we come to a reduction need of 81% for nitrogen fertiliser, 80% for P2O5 and 92% for K2O fertiliser. Although these are no unchangable figures (substitution is permitted), the impossibility to continue with the status quo is overwhelming. For land use no quantitative indicators can be defined. Instead we identified main stresses and counter-measures: 1) loss of biodiversity: dedicate 10% of all biotopes for nature protection. Introduce 100% organic farming and sustainable forestry. 2) loss of micro-nutriens: reduce speed of ground water flow. 3) land import: reduce import surplus in agricultural commodities 50% by 2010 to permit for self-supply in other continents. Organic farming is not yet sustainable. It must be further analysed to identify potentials to: 1) reduce energy use and material flows 2) maximise contributions to energy and raw material supply 3) slow down underground water flows and thus nutrient losses. 4) reduce the total reduction in yield from in average 30% today to about 10% by applying modern breeding technologies.

Spangenberg, Joachim H. (Ed.) (1996), Towards Sustainable Europe, A Study from the Wuppertal Institute for Friends of the Earth Europe, 2nd Edition, Wuppertal 1996

Lehmann, H., Reetz, T. (1994), Sustainable Land Use Patterns for Europe, Wuppertal Paper 26 Ripl, W., Hildmann, Ch. (1994), Wasserhaushalt und Basenverlust aus der Landschaft: Ein zentrales okologisches Problem. In: Jahrbuch Okologie, Beck, Munchen, p. 129 - 138