Contributions of Andean culture to the conceptualization of sustainable development

Contributions of Andean culture to the conceptualization of sustainable development

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By Rodrigo Arce Rojas

At a time in history where various types of crises such as the economic crisis, the environmental crisis, the climate crisis, the political crisis, it is worth asking ourselves as a society how effective and efficient we have been in implementing the concept of sustainable development. Objectively recognize if the ideal and mobilizing nature of sustainable development has made us develop and implement alternatives that consider the variables of sustainable development under equitable conditions or if until now the economicist conception has prevailed to the detriment of environmental and social considerations.

In Rio + 20, the indigenous peoples of the world proposed that the cultural dimension be explicitly incorporated as part of the components of sustainable development and although this task was not achieved, it left a lot of reflection along the way and remains a pending agenda. This proposal is not free because many of the socio-environmental conflicts that take place in the Andean Region finally have to do with different worldviews, different ways of understanding and experiencing what development and quality of life mean.

The concept of green economy appears as an attempt to settle the accounts in terms of the underestimation of environmental and social considerations, but in practice it fails to compensate it as long as the same economic principles and understanding of development and well-being are maintained. One would have to wonder if the green economy is actually intended to replace the concept of sustainable development or is it intended to discursively satisfy the critics in the qualification of sustainable green economy while the spirit of unlimited growth is maintained with new clothes and makeup. The great efforts to find new alternatives for a more sensible economy are not denied, the question is whether it will be enough.

It is striking that in the midst of all these discussions, waste is still part of the unlimited growth model. Just to cite one case, we could point to the issue of food waste in the so-called developed world. Studies carried out by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations - (FAO; 2012a) indicate that approximately one third of the edible parts of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted, which represents around 1,300 million tons per year. The study specifies that “ Food is wasted throughout the food supply chain, from initial agricultural production to final consumption at home. In high- and middle-income countries, food is largely wasted, which means it is thrown away even if it is still fit for human consumption; however, food is also lost and wasted early in the food supply chain”. This is inconceivable at a time when 1 billion people suffer from hunger in the world, and a food consumption characterized by waste will lead to an unsustainable demand for natural resources (FAO, 2012b).

Although statistics can account for poverty indicators in the Andean world, it is important to point out the concepts of sustainable development (called good living or living well) that are still in force in Andean culture. It is honest to admit that many of these elements are conserved to a greater or lesser extent due to acculturation factors. However, knowing and understanding these principles can be valuable contributions to the conceptualization of sustainable development. Let us therefore enter the heart of the Andean culture expressed in the farms and in the great wealth of agrobiodiversity.

Some principles of Andean culture collected by Urrunaga (2006) are:

· Holistic principle: a totalizing and human look at people and their environment

· Reciprocity principle: between people and between them and nature for which they are worthy of respect

· Syncretism principle: which implies the openness to incorporate new elements of cultural patterns offered by modernity

· Phytolatry principle: some floristic components of the ecosystem are subjects of special attention due to their qualities and / or potentialities

· Principle of renewal and purification: revealed in the "payment or dispatch" that implies the need to carry out a series of manifestations through rituals and ceremonies that reestablish the transgression of the interrelationships of the components of the agroecosystems with their deities

· Principle of complementarity: which refers to the maintenance of balance, harmony and perfection among species through permanent energy flows or interaction.

Rengifo (2004) when characterizing the cultural aspects of the Andean farm points out three salient aspects: i) the relationship between growers and crops is person to person, ii) agricultural practices are deeply ritualistic, and iii) there is a conversation fine and detailed with nature to carry out timely agricultural work.

Rengifo et al. (2006) refer that the concept of the farm is not only associated with the place where plants of human interest are raised or cultivated, but also with every space where I grow up and am raised, since the farm not only has humans, but also nature and the deities.

For his part, Revilla (2006) points out that in the Andean farm, affectivity prevails over rationality, where the feeling of the communal predominates over individualism, where man continues to be part of nature.

The diversity of agricultural activities constitutes a survival strategy for Andean communities, where the scarcity of agricultural land is a major limitation. Conservation in situ, from the peasant point of view, is the guarantee of their minimum food security and the guarantee of obtaining food, without going through the market, without this meaning denying it (Cuba et al., 2006).

Understanding then that in Andean culture food is not objectified is key. By recognizing and feeling crops as people - just like rain or hail or even "pests" - then they are respected and therefore there is no room for food waste. This also explains the development in food preservation technology (dehydrated potatoes, salted dried meat, among others) whose purpose is not only to manage surpluses but also to express respect. Can we assess what it would mean among the Western world to incorporate respect for food and crops?

Now that we have understood that disaster risk management not only refers to understanding a biophysical and response perspective but also to the way we function as a society, now that we have understood that climate change accounts for the civilizational model that we have invented, Elements of the Andean culture offer interesting philosophical and conceptual alternatives to redefine sustainable development, so that it truly contributes to a better interrelation between society and nature.

Rodrigo Arce Rojas

Forestal engineer

Lima Peru.

Video: NASA explains how human activities contribute to global warming (July 2022).


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  3. Chanoch

    Do you know why?

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    you are absolutely right

  5. Bradlee

    absolutely accidental coincidence

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    the Authoritarian answer, oddly ...

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