Science and technology have enabled agriculture to become increasingly productive, to produce abundant harvests by manipulating Nature, and to increase the quality of life in most areas of the world. However, a heavy price is paid for this abundance. Many modern agricultural practices harm the environment, impair human health, and destroy the social and economic well-being of rural communities.
Sustainable food and farming systems that enable producers to work in partnership with Nature have been developed to correct these deficiencies. These economically-viable and environmentally sound systems have been successfully demonstrated throughout the world. However, their adoption has been slowed by lack of government support and difficulty in gaining access to new information.
In 1991, a group of concerned and like-minded individuals and organizations, rising above their respective nationalities and religions, committed themselves to the task of trying to reverse these trends. They established the World Sustainable Agriculture Association (WSAA) and agreed to work together to restore harmony between people and Nature.
GOALS OF WSAA
- Develop and disseminate scientific and technical information that will facilitate wide adoption of sustainable agriculture systems and practices and build broad support for global transition to sustainable agriculture.
- Provide producers with farmer-friendly and site-specific information by encouraging establishment of sustainable agriculture research and demonstration projects on operating farms throughout the world.
- Enhance the work of existing and newly emerging organizations, agencies, and institutions in improving the exchange of practical and scientific information that will help producers reduce their dependence on ecologically harmful chemicals and non-renewable resources.
- Provide policy makers, including international development and credit agencies, with information that will assist them in developing programs and policies that facilitate adoption of sustainable agriculture methods.
- Facilitate the exchange of marketing information that will increase the economic viability of producers adopting sustainable farming systems.
- Participate in joint efforts with other organizations, agencies, and institutions committed to development and adoption of food and fanning systems that are economically viable, environmentally friendly, and safe for farm workers and consumers.
PRIMARY MISSIONS OF WSAA
In order to establish a world where life is revered and celebrated in harmony, love, and lasting peace, WSAA sets up primary missions in the following four categories.
FARMING PRACTICES AND SYSTEMS Developing new farming techniques for sustainable agriculture systems and encouraging fanners to adopt such systems.
QUALITY OF FOODS AND ENVIRONMENT Raising public interest in sustainable agriculture as the key to producing safer food and preserving the natural environment and resources.
HEALTH OF HUMANKIND Providing safe and nutritious agricultural produce and preserving the natural environment and resources that will improve health of humankind.
PUBLIC POLICIES In order to obtain smooth adoption of sustainable agriculture, it is necessary for both national and local governments and agricultural organizations to implement new policies and regulations.
WSAA aspires to promote a global paradigm for sustainable agriculture that will replace the damaging and depleting industrial paradigm that has dominated agriculture for the last 50 years. It has formed nine directorates made up of sustainable agriculture specialists from throughout the world who have agreed to help carry out this work. Several of these directorates are fully organized and are implementing programs. Others will become operational as resources become available.
These are the directorates and the components of WSAA’s total program that they have been established to carry out.
This directorate will facilitate fanner participation in government and institutional decision-making, including establishment of research and education priorities. It also will encourage development of farmer-to-farmer exchange programs, establishment of research and demonstration projects on operating farms, and dissemination of fanner-friendly production and marketing information.
The directorate will identify new research needs and enhance information and exchange among scientists. The work of the directorate will focus on farming practices that improve soil quality, the linkages between soil quality, nutrient content of foods, and health of consumers, management of weed and pest populations with safe and harmless methods, improvement of farming systems and equipment and the economic, social, and environmental implications of adopting sustainable methods.
The directorate works cooperatively with organizations and institutions in developing and promoting policies that will remove institutional banners to adoption of sustainable methods and provide incentives for farmers who want to adopt these practices. It monitors the activities of international development and credit agencies and institutions that influence agricultural policy and gathers and disseminates information on their programs and policies. The directorate also helps facilitate participation of non-governmental organizations in important United Nations events, such as the Earth Summit and the International Conference on Nutrition, and works with others to help assure that sustainable agriculture commitments made by governments at these events are implemented.
MARKETING AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS
The directorate focuses on the need for government and citizen action that will help reduce the use of dangerous or harmful chemicals in food production and in post harvest handling. It also promotes the adoption of organic standards, the development of community supported agriculture and other local food production alternatives, and the establishment of farmers markets and consumer cooperatives that help make healthful food more accessible.
The directorate will focus on development and expansion of extension initiatives that will help develop and disseminate information needed by farmers who want to make a transition to sustainable methods. The directorate works with other organizations and institutions in organizing international conferences and seminars, in producing films and videos, and in preparing published educational materials. It also is working with other international organizations, including Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance, in facilitating farmer-to-farmer assistance.
The directorate focuses on activities that will connect information exchange experts and networks throughout the world. It is helping make accessible to others the extensive electronic data base system being developed in the United States by the government-supported Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program. The directorate also will help provide appropriate translation services.
The directorate will focus on the development and dissemination of publications that promote sustainable agriculture. A newsletter that disseminates information on public policies, available resources, and sustainable agriculture initiatives throughout the world is published. A series of occasional papers also is planned.
HEALTH AND MEDICAL SCIENCES
The directorate focuses on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual energies that need to be integrated and balanced to promote health and wellness. It encourages research on nontraditional health theories and techniques, development of policies that support preventive care, and dissemination of alternative health information.
ARTS AND HUMANITIES
Embracing the view that all aspects of society should be enhanced by aesthetics, this directorate pursues the beautification of the world through special projects.
WSAA has established itself as one of the international non-governmental organizations that influences food and agriculture policies and programs of United Nations agencies and international development and credit institutions. It has developed a cooperative relationship with many other NGOs working on these issues.
It was an accredited participant in 1992 in the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro and the International Conference on Nutrition in Rome. WSAA representatives also participated in preparatory meetings for these conferences and for the UN Year of the Family activities in 1994. WSAA also is accredited to the UN’s Commission on Sustainable Development, which will focus in 1995 on implementation of sustainable agriculture commitments made at UNCED.
WSAA has co-sponsored international scientific meetings and its representatives have made presentations on sustainable agriculture at recent international conferences in Beijing, Mexico City, Bangkok, and Taipei. They also have participated in global NGO policy meetings in Copenhagen and Mulheim, Germany.
WSAA representatives hold leadership positions in a number of national (US) and international organizations, including the Global Food and Nutrition Alliance, the Citizens Network for Sustainable Development, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coordinating Council, and the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grants program (formerly called LISA).
to the well-being of all people, in harmony with Nature
1835 Vancouver Drive, Honolulu. Hawaii, 96822, U.S.A.
tel. 1-808-595-8396; tax. 1-808-595-8014.
WSAA Executive Vice President’s Office.
8554 Melrose Ave.
West Hollywood, California, 90069, U.S.A.
tel. 1-310-657-7202; fax. 1-310-657-3884.
WSAA Washington D.C. Office.
1331 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Suite 907,
North Tower, Washington D.C. 20004, U.S.A.
tel. 1-202-347-0637; lax. 1-202-347-0654.