Joaquin Navarro-Valls: Constructing a Culture of Responsibility

By Carly Chaapel

On Thursday, June 28, the Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet project and the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition will release Eating Planet–Nutrition Today: A Challenge for Mankind and for the Planet in New York City. Today, Nourishing the Planet highlights a contributing author of Eating Planet, and shares his views on how to fix the broken food system. Tune in on the 28th via livestream: we will be taking questions in real time from the audience, from the livestream, and from Twitter and Facebook.

Navarro-Valls calls for a global culture of individual and collective responsibility to end world hunger. (Photo credit: libreriaontanilla.com)

Lately, issues concerning sustainable development have been focused primarily on developing countries such as China and India, where consumption trends are increasing dramatically.  Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the president of both the Telecom Italia Foundation and Advisory Board Biomedical University of Rome, believes that we should take action on sustainability that includes all countries. He believes that globalization should focus on personal responsibility and education. In an interview featured in Eating Planet 2012 – Eating today: A challenge for Man and for the Planet, by the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition, he says that we are too quick to condemn these countries for “unsustainable” practices such as deforestation. Navarro-Valls claims that we solve our issues “by dumping upon developing countries the responsibility for that problem and the corresponding measures.” Rather than industrialized countries using money and power to displace waste upon less developed countries, every citizen of every nation should claim personal responsibility for their actions.

Navarro-Valls insists that any decision that affects people must begin with a sense of responsibility, rather than actions from international institutions or NGOs. Although responsibility is felt on an individual level, national politics and global legislation can be designed to encourage personal and collective responsibility. For example, consumers now have the purchasing power to choose certified organic, fair trade, and Rainforest Alliance coffee, chocolate, and other products. Certification programs can encourage coffee drinkers to choose a more environmentally sustainable product.

Navarro-Valls claims that we will never solve the general problems of mankind unless we realize that they begin with an understanding of people’s personal responsibility. The most effective solutions to world hunger, says Navarro-Valls, can only be achieved through education. Eating habits in the western world must change and continue to change, says Navarro-Falls. Although the current change is positive, he points out that it is unfortunately out of necessity rather than free will. Navarro-Valls hopes that individual and collective responsibility will continue to grow. “Selfishness breeds chaos,” he declares. A better future can only exist with a strong sense of personal responsibility within all of us.

What do you think? How can we instill a sense of personal responsibility in all people to address global issues such as hunger?

Tune in to the launch on the 28th via livestream: we will be taking questions in real time from the audience, from the livestream, and from Twitter and Facebook. You can also purchase your own copy of Eating Planet for $3.99 on Amazon or iTunes.

Carly Chaapel is a research intern with the Nourishing the Planet Project.

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