One Planet Living side event on homes and food is runaway success

10.05.11 Blog from New York

It always promised to be a great event. The content was always going to be a crowd-pleaser: the homes we live in and the food we eat. And the line-up was packed with eloquent experts from an incredibly varied background. We had Chinese eco-housing developers, Indian egg farmers, British retailers and animal welfarists, Ecuadorian officials and more Brits – this time in the form of our own entrepreneurial BioRegional duo, Sue and Pooran.

An initial fear that it may be a tricky job to knit the two main threads of housing and food networks together in one event was swiftly allayed when we considered it in the light of the elemental One Planet Living approach. The ten principles framework lets you weave and wend your way through a mass of complex but interrelated issues. Rather like the volume dials on a stereo, the relative importance of the ten principles can be dialled up or down depending on the area, product or service being considered – carbon, water, waste, jobs, culture, animals, etc.

And this is the crux of the whole Sustainable Consumption and Production framework debate that we’re trying to influence while out here in New York. We’re working hard to get the message across that a core outcome from this, and the wider build-up process to next year’s Rio+20 Earth Summit, needs to be a trajectory to a one plant living world. And out here, we’re busying away with different people from the UN, other NGOs and wider lobby groups, to engage and educate people on the issue, in the hope they will seek to adopt one planet living in turn.

From a BioRegional perspective, today we wanted to draw out discussions around the solutions-based ethos of One Planet Living – to show the real life, practical examples of which we have a raft – from BedZED to our global One Planet Communities, to the rebirthing of local lavender industries and paper-from-straw MiniMills . But further than that, we wanted to bring in some of our partners from home (like Rachel Bradley from B&Q who has come out to help us here), and abroad (like Juan Andres Salvador from the Ecudorian government).
Ably chaired by Jan Gustav Strandenaes, of the Northern Alliance for Sustainability (ANPED), we were treated to an incredible array of enthused speakers, with Juan Andres Salvador teeing the discussions up with an inspiring exposition of the progressive nature of his government’s SD commitments.

Sue and then Pooran followed up with fluid outlays of the nature of One Planet Living and its projects, before Rachel Bradley from B&Q took to the floor to talk about how they became a One Planet Company – and was confident to state that "One Planet Living is in our DNA"

Sitting at the event in the ballroom of the Beekman Tower Hotel (which abuts the UN buildings and our Chair told us had once for a tiny two week period, been the tallest building in New York!), it was great to hear from Rachel that B&Q have made 20% absolute cuts in their corporate carbon emissions since becoming a One Planet Company - not bad for the world's third largest home outlet store!

Vicky Hird from our event partner WSPA (the World Society for the Protection of Animals) was up next setting out their stall for Rio+20 on how livestock and humane, sustainable agriculture are an imperative for the summit. And last but far from least was Sarala Gopalan from the World Farmers Organisation with clever case studies of successful small-scale sustainability projects in India.

Having been told beforehand that if you get 30 people to come to these sort of events it has been a success, we were delighted to have a ‘standing room only’ event with well over 60 people pitching up (I’m sure that had nothing to do with the offer of a free lunch!). And it was an audience of real quality as well as quantity, with representatives from numerous countries as well as our target NGOs and UN representatives.

So, we can say with a great degree of comfort that it was a rousing success: great attendance, cracking content and a host of excitable questioners.

Simon McWhirter

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