‘Assises du Vivant’ 2013 - "Betting on the living for a sustainable future: progress or a trap?" - a debate on major bio-economy issues
Having successfully brought together, in November 2012, more than 300 participants interested in the uses of the living, UNESCO, ‘l’Institit Inspire’ the organisation ‘Agrostratégies et Prospectives’ and about 20 other partners are organising the latest session of the ‘Assises du Vivant’ on 12 and 13 December 2013, in Paris, to explore what’s at stake in the area of bio-economy and to consider the risks and advantages of betting on the living for a sustainable future.
The ‘Assises du vivant 2013’ will enable everyone to come to their own conclusions by providing a unique opportunity to imagine, together, a world in which we can live and to rediscover the foundations of economics.
These two days of workshops, debates and roundtables will provide a chance to understand what is hidden behind this concept, with its diverse origins, to share experiences and actions, to confront conflicts of use (food, energy, plastics, etc.) and to weigh up the contradictions – and also to consider the pertinence of the subject.
For UNESCO, which is hosting this event, this conference will be an opportunity to deepen its examination of the green economy in the context of sustainable development and of the elimination of poverty to meet the Millennium Development Goals.
So these ‘Assises du Vivant 2013’ will be an opportunity to reflect on the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), held in Brazil in June 2012, the goal of which was to forge new policies to promote worldwide prosperity as well as the protection of the environment. Entitled ‘the Future we Want’, this document proclaims: ‘… we consider green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication as one of the important tools available for achieving sustainable development and that it could provide options for policymaking but should not be a rigid set of rules.’
To bet on the living in order to cope with the urgency of demographic, energy, environmental and climate challenges is to bet on the bio-economy, which is a part of the green economy and is a fashionable concept right now in technological and industrial policies which aim to reconcile innovation, economic growth and the creation of jobs in the context of ever-scarcer fossil resources as well as environmental and climate change.
The conception and objectives of the bio-economy are, however, varied and there are clearly tensions.
Is it simply a matter of a transition from an economy founded on fossil resources to one founded on living resources, without any real re-examination of ways of living and means of production? Or is there a need to re-imagine, together and in depth, a new, ‘post-carbon’ economy – one that emits only a small amount of greenhouse gases? How can we reach agreement on the modalities of one or other of these approaches? Is it just a matter of reconciling economic growth and the ever-increasing scarcity of resources? Or is the solution, rather, to propose a new, radically different, ‘living’ approach to the economy?
For some, ecological values should be integrated into traditional economics. For others, nothing should be done which might undermine the conditions for the reproduction of life – on which every one of us depends.
According to René Passet, a French economist and development specialist, ‘The bio-economy is not a specific discipline of economics, nor is it a specific branch of economics, but all of this, together.’