The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series
Edited by Jordi Jaria i Manzano, Nathalie Chalifour and Louis J. Kotzé
Chapter 14: Agriculture, energy and development: an uneasy relationship
In the agricultural aspect of globalization, there is a spatial concentration of the production of food, feed and biomass that depends on a complex web of transportation and distribution, a structure which is energy intensive. Despite the economic disadvantages and intensive use of ecological systems, the present chapter argues that this global web of food, feed and biomass production and commerce is in itself completely inefficient in terms of energy use. Sustainable development is only possible with sustainable energy, so states the UN Report on International Year of Sustainable Energy (A/67/314). The desirable sustainability of energy in this production structure should be based on both the inflow of energy for the construction and maintenance of the system, and the entire flow of energy in the form of water, nutrients, light, ranging from production to agricultural products for food, feed and power generation. Law has the task to present ways and means that reflect an orientation of a radically different economic development. Law should drive the global market towards a more efficient energy balance. Human conduct must be based on the key principles for the solution of increasingly more common problems. Compliance with these principles must be the real aim of improving energy efficiency. This is a concept of intergenerational efficiency, based on the understanding of the crucial importance of the energy flow in the productive process.
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