Soft tyranny at the United Nations

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I ran into the concept of Satoyama the other day and saw this entry for it. It is a six minute video produced by the United Nations University -- Institute of Advanced Studies. Here is part of the blurb from their website:
Harvest time in satoyama
For many Japanese, satoyama represents the ideal of coexistence between humans and nature. It is commonly described as secondary woodlands and grasslands adjunct to small villages, and is the scene of rich biological diversity.

The first written reference to satoyama dates back to 1759. Forester Hyoemon Terauchi recorded the livelihoods of rural mountain woodland communities and used the term satoyama to describe the human managed landscapes surrounding those communities.
So far, it sounds wonderful that the United Nations would be exploring this idea (some of their child organizations actually do good work). The concern in Japan is that the farmer population is aging, few young people are interested in farming and Japan currently produces only 39% of its food. How they choose to go about changing this makes my skin crawl:
In 2006, the United Nations University-Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS) initiated a comprehensive national ecosystem assessment focusing on satoyama. Referred to as the Satoyama-Satoumi Sub-Global Assessment, it is intended to be part of the network of over 30 sub-global ecosystem assessments. To ensure an in-depth report, Japan was broken down into 5 clusters (one of which is the Hoku-Shinetsu Cluster and the work of UNU-IAS Operating Unit Ishikawa/Kanazawa featured in the video).

Focusing on the last 50 years of satoyama landscape change, each cluster report follows the framework of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. The findings will be integrated into a national report to be published in time for the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in October 2010 in Nagoya, Japan.

Many of the writers assessing the ecosystem services provided by satoyama landscapes hope that their findings will feed into designs for a sustainable society that draw from the past to forge a contemporary model for sustainability; a model that contributes not only to sustainable food and fuel production but also to biodiversity conservation strategies and initiatives in Japan.
What they are doing (this is mentioned in detail in the video) is setting policies designed to get younger people into farming. These policy papers will be given to the Japanese Government who will turn them into law administered by a new government bureau. This sort of top-down nanny-statism is the absolute worst kind of soft tyranny that I can imagine. If they want to make young Japanese people get interested in farming, how about some tax breaks? How about rolling broadband out to these areas? How about an infrastructure -- agricultural colleges, banks giving long-term low interest rates for farm machinery. All of these would jump-start agriculture without having to form another branch of government. The methods employed by the United Nation would require subsidies, higher taxes, bigger government and would not be effective. The methods I jotted down would reduce taxes, keep government the same size, stimulate both the national and the local economies and, as long as the tax breaks are in place, be highly effective. Here is some more on Soft Tyranny. A contemporary view here.

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on May 22, 2009 6:48 PM.

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