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What does Sustainability mean?

The most often cited definition of sustainability comes from the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development. According to the Commission,

Sustainable development is a development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

The UN created the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, advertising and promoting them relentlessly. The Sustainable Development Goals are included in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and represent the world’s shared plan to end extreme poverty, reduce inequality, and protect the planet by 2030.

Here at Farmer Charlie, we deeply care about sustainability and these values are embedded into our project and our research.

The main sustainable development goals (SDGs) that Farmer Charlie aims to achieve are considered below.

SDG 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth. This means to promote ‘sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.’

SDG 8 is aimed at fostering higher levels of productivity and technological innovation.

One of Farmer Charlie’s main objectives is the provision of technologies at an affordable cost for everyone. We wish to give farmers the opportunity to benefit from what they produce, namely, not just to survive, but to increase their yield. In other words, Farmer Charlie supports the change from mere subsistence farming to more commercially oriented agricultural practices, that is, farming to make profit.

SDG 9 – Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure concerns the making of resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and fostering innovation. Technology is also key to finding lasting solutions to both economic and environmental challenges, and Farmer Charlie uses it to this end. Our solution brings in-field sensors and internet to the fields, trying to give rural farmers connectivity that urban areas already enjoy, at the same time respecting the environment and local communities. Connectivity and sensors can be used to provide valuable data to farmers, contributing to the development of innovative, sustainable, and inclusive agriculture.

SDG 12 – Responsible Production and Consumption focuses on the best ways of reducing post-harvest losses and achieving zero waste. Agriculture involves the biggest use of water worldwide. Amongst other useful data, Farmer Charlie can be used to provide valuable information on water management, so that the exploitation of this precious resource could be reduced, guaranteeing healthy crops at the same time. We also care about the products used throughout the agricultural process; for this reason, we detect soil and weather data to help contain the products used on crops. Fertilisers and pesticides can be dangerous for the environment, so finding the right balance between healthy crops and a healthy environment requires expert technology and skilled assessment. We have also researched the impact and consequences of excess yield and we are still looking into effective and sustainable strategies to reduce post-harvest loss via recycling, processing, or regenerating products.

SDG 13 – Climate action. The effects of climate change are sadly known nowadays. To mention just one recent and recurring example, the latest invasion of locusts in Africa (2019) hit arid places such as the Horn of Africa and the Persian Gulf, where crops suffered huge damage from the invasion, due to climate change. In fact, these areas experienced a humid period and heavy rains which helped the development of this species, leaving local people and their activities exposed to economic and food insecurity. The best way to mitigate the risks caused by this issue – but also by other climate change effects – is to implement preventive actions and monitoring. Farmer Charlie’s technology can efficiently inform about weather and soil modifications, acting as a supporting tool in preventive strategies.

These are only a few reasons – although we could mention many others – why we must all be aware of the consequences we face if we do not act promptly and efficiently to prevent economic, social, and environmental disasters, and to guarantee a better and equal future for all.

-Margherita Magnini

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