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  • I am very happy to come after Christie Walk

  • because what I have to say is very similar.

  • As we all know,

  • everything from global warming to the global financial crisis tells us

  • that we need a fundamental change in society.

  • And I am going to be arguing that for all of us around the world

  • the highest priority, the most urgent issue

  • is fundamental change to the economy.

  • And from my point of view,

  • the change that we need to make is shifting away

  • from globalizing to localizing economic activity.

  • Localization is a solution multiplier

  • that offers a systemic, far-reaching alternative

  • to corporate capitalism, as well as communism.

  • It's a way of dramatically reducing CO2 emissions,

  • energy consumption of all kind, and waste.

  • At the same time,

  • as adapting economic activity, localizing economic activity,

  • can restore biodiversity as well as cultural diversity.

  • It's a way of creating meaningful and secure jobs

  • for the entire global population,

  • and perhaps is the most important of all,

  • because it is about rebuilding the fabric of connection,

  • the fabric of community between people,

  • and between people and their local environment:

  • it's the economics of happiness.

  • I first had my eyes open to this, I was forced to see this connection

  • between the economy out there and our inner well being, our happiness,

  • when I was thrown into a situation on the Tibetan Plateau,

  • in Ladakh, called Little Tibet, about 35 years ago.

  • This area had been sealed off from the outside world,

  • and it was suddenly thrown open

  • to the outside world, to the outside economy.

  • And I saw with my own eyes

  • how subsidized food, coming in on subsidized roads,

  • running on subsidized fuel,

  • how that food and other goods brought in from thousands of miles away

  • destroyed the local market.

  • And almost overnight, this led to unemployment,

  • this in turn, led to friction between people

  • who lived peacefully side by side for generations.

  • After a decade,

  • Buddhists and Muslims in Ladakh were literally killing each other.

  • I also worked in Bhutan between '84 and '89,

  • and I saw exactly the same pattern there.

  • There, it was Buddhists and Hindus who were killing each other.

  • So, I became very motivated

  • to try to bring this message out to the rest of the world.

  • I started speaking and writing about it,

  • and in the process, I've come in contact with economists, environmentalists,

  • anthropologists, people from every continent

  • who are basically saying the story of our country, of our place

  • is very similar to the story of Ladakh.

  • What we have seen is that worldwide

  • there is a trend towards a split

  • between government and the interest of their people,

  • and that governments are pursuing an economic model that is simply outdated,

  • that has been carried far too far.

  • It's a model that says:

  • more trade, more production for export, and more foreign investment.

  • That's the formula for creating prosperity.

  • This formula is not working.

  • Why are governments worldwide so impoverished

  • that they have to cut, cut, cut, for our needs

  • while spending billions and trillions

  • for a global infrastructure in transport, trade, and weapons?

  • Why is this happening?

  • >From my point of view, it's fundamentally about that distancing,

  • the globalizing of economic activity.

  • It's led to what I call a "drone economy".

  • You must have heard about the drones,

  • the unmanned aircrafts that are now being manipulated from Las Vegas

  • as people are bombed in Afghanistan.

  • We can not carry on warfare without ever seeing the people we kill,

  • without hearing the screams, without being there risking our lives.

  • That long distance creates a blindness, a heartlessness,

  • and basically, an impossibility in terms of ethics.

  • It's very similar to the ability

  • for someone to sit in New York and speculate on the Valley of Wheat

  • and not seeing what is happening to those farmers

  • on the other side of the world.

  • How can we be ethical, how can we be kind and compassionate

  • when we don't even see our impact?

  • It is as though our arms have grown so long

  • that we don't even see what our hands are doing.

  • Whether as a CEO or as a consumer,

  • we really need to open our eyes to what is happening,

  • and when we do,

  • what we will see is that around the world

  • there's a movement towards localization

  • that is about shortening those distances,

  • and that movement is demonstrating the multiple benefits;

  • the most powerful and the most inspiring and heartening of all

  • is The Local Food Movement,

  • which consists of literally thousands,

  • if not millions of initiatives around the world,

  • from permaculture to edible school gardens

  • to more urban farms to farmer's markets.

  • It's all about shortening distances, and you talk to farmers as I have,

  • - because we've helped to stimulate and catalyze these initiatives

  • on many continents -

  • and you can talk to farmers

  • that were previously going bankrupt, that were depressed,

  • and as one farmer said to me in Australia,

  • "I've been a farmer all my life and I felt like a serf;

  • constant pressure to reduce the cost and to standardize the products,"

  • and he was producing only two things.

  • "Now," he says, "after we started a farmer's market,

  • it's like entering a new galaxy," and he beams as he said that.

  • He is now producing about 20 different things

  • and he has contact, weekly contact, with the consumers.

  • This shortening of distances is far, far more fundamental than we realize

  • and is absolutely essential in terms of all our basic needs:

  • the need for food, clothing, and shelter.

  • When we realize that in the modern economy

  • this pressure to produce for export,

  • this pressure to encourage foreign investment,

  • when we realize that this means that worldwide farmers are being pressured

  • to produce more and more standard products,

  • larger and larger monocultures, in the long distances, you can't say,

  • "Well, you know, today, some of my basil is ready to be harvested,

  • but I'll have some more tomorrow

  • and I'll also have some blackcurrants, or some apples,

  • and some milk from my cows."

  • Impossible.

  • Larger and larger scale monocultures

  • are not only the same product, but the same size.

  • The size that fits the machinery,

  • the harvesting machinery, the machinery that washes,

  • the machinery that loads it onto the supermarket shelves.

  • In the process, tons of food is being thrown away

  • because it's not of the right size.

  • But far worse than that, in the process, we are eradicating biodiversity.

  • Not just agricultural biodiversity but wild biodiversity as well.

  • As you shorten the distances, you're suddenly creating a market

  • where it is in the interest of the farmer and producer to diversify.

  • He can actually make more money and do better

  • if he starts building up a more diversified farm.

  • This is what is happening. This is what is happening.

  • As a consequence of the diversification,

  • what we can see is that you can produce more food per unit of land.

  • This is perhaps the most important thing

  • about understanding that if we want to make change to the economy,

  • if we want to make change to the world today,

  • we have got to start looking at food production,

  • at the interface with the natural world which is our real economy,

  • and I'm afraid that I find

  • that most economists are simply ecologically illiterate.

  • They don't distinguish between growing potatoes and apples,

  • and creating rubber balls or plastic toys.

  • There is a certain economy of scale

  • when you are producing standard, petrochemical, industrial products,

  • but when it comes to the natural world,

  • the adaptation to the diversity, the nurturing of diversity

  • is how we can get more out of each unit of land.

  • Many studies show ten times more food from small diversified farms

  • provide plenty of jobs.

  • We can see this in traditional systems,

  • and we can see it in the new farmers' movement,

  • of young people, many of whom have studied architecture, law, medicine,

  • are actually deciding that they prefer farming.

  • As part of the local food movement, they have access to a local market,

  • they are earning a very good salary

  • because when you shorten the distances,

  • we cut out all that waste of the energy, the packaging, the refrigeration,

  • the irradiation, the advertising,

  • and above of all, those preservatives and waste of making food appear fresh

  • when it isn't.

  • When you cut out all of that so called "value added activity",

  • what you find is an economic system, a free market,

  • where the farmer earns vastly more,

  • and the consumer pays less for fresh, healthy food.

  • In the longest and supermarket economy, generally speaking,