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Sustainable Production Systems and Biodiversity

Francisco Abardía

The Sustainable Production Systems and Biodiversity Project seeks to “preserve and protect the biodiversity of Mexico, which is nationally and globally important, by improving sustainable management practices in productive areas of priority biological corridors”. To achieve this goal, we have partnered with twenty-seven social enterprises that implement biodiversity-friendly productive practices, thereby recognizing the plurality of successful experiences developed in southern and southeastern Mexico. Social enterprises bring together small producers who are also co-proprietors, ejido owners and smallholders, who form partnerships to produce and jointly market the goods and services they offer. Producers in the region have focused on sustainable coffee growing, forestry, sustainable beekeeping, ecotourism, sustainable cocoa growing, silvopastoral livestock and wildlife use.

This group of producer associations is characterized, among other things, by the creation of management systems that involve forms of using natural heritage that do not threaten future consumption for the sake of present consumption or progressively degrade the productive capacity of their territories or resources. They are characterized by the exercise of sustainable, biodiversity-friendly production practices, and the continuous improvement of the latter. Sustainable forestry and organic production are two of its pillars. Social enterprises are not only distinguished by their production, which integrates society and nature in novel ways, but also by their social practices and innovative capabilities.

The communal forestry companies created in the 1980s by indigenous communities in Oaxaca are an exemplary case of social creativity in that they strengthen indigenous cultures that appropriate business concepts for their benefit and their development in the 21st century. Organic production and its innovative internal control systems have caused a revolution in quality assurance systems, broadening the field with added values and competitiveness.

The system of fair trade and the creation of small coffee producer associations is a new venture into trade relations between individual actors, without government intervention. It is a fundamental contribution to market theories from the perspective of a partnership between producers and consumers, based on the fundamental principles of transparency, democracy, pluralism, equity, sustainability, competitiveness and quality. These three major contributions: communal forestry companies, organic production and fair trade are sufficient to show the potential and importance of the convergence between nature and society in the present and the future of our country. The quiet perseverance provided by social enterprises and their undoubted challenges in a globalized world provide a glimpse of a way to overcome problems of scarcity. They epitomize the eternal dilemma between present and future consumption. The development and improvement of biodiversity- friendly production practices and innovative entrepreneurship are the best answer to the narrow view imposed by poverty, focused as it is on survival, while ignoring the thorny issues of investment and sustainability.