Business Models,Circular Economy,events

The MIT Sustainability Summit on April 24 and 25 will be on the circular economy

4 Mar , 2015  

I'm proud of the students at MIT for focusing on how we fundamentally change how we do business in an environmentally and socially aware time. That photo of the frozen wave off Nantucket finally made it on to my internet browser and I thought--wow, now is the time to make the circular economy a reality, on a wide scale.

Farms have been part of my life since I was a child. Although I lived in a city, my father and his partners had a farm that I would sometimes visit. Later as a pre-teen I daydreamed about living in a rural town full-time. I got to do it for a semester in high school. It was a small, organic farm run by students and a small group of highly skilled and very patient farmers.

That's why I'm so excited to go to the sustainability summit this year, and to introduce the concept of a circular economy, with a focus on agricultural systems.

On one level, agriculture is about the elaborate interconnections of the wild, constrained by an artificial boundary: a property line. On another, it's about the system we've slowly evolved over time to feed our societies, connect with each other (over a meal), and about a system that is entirely dependent on a larger global system--the hot and cold spells, the health of the aquifers, the birds and bugs and buds on a tree.

NASA GISS global surface temperature anomaly map for February 2015 showing particularly high anomalies across northern Europe, Eurasia, China and the Arctic. Note: Gray areas signify missing data. Note: Ocean data are not used over land nor within 100km of a reporting land station. Courtesy: NASA via

The 7th Annual Sustainability Summit will focus on understanding—and offering solutions to—the complex problems facing local and global agriculture systems. This year’s Summit will tackle food and farming challenges through the lens of the “Circular Economy,” a systems-thinking approach that demonstrates that a flourishing, sustainable world is built on intentionally cycling resources between production and consumption: from farm to table and back again.
The Summit's program looks fascinating. Register for the Summit here. See you there!
Featured image: MIT Sustainability Summit

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4 Responses

  1. […] been a transformative year, personally and professionally. I gave a talk at MIT. Traveled a lot. Built a couple of cool things (more on that in the next few months). Regularly […]

  2. […] Resource efficiency is a term that has yet to gain widespread use, but is  gaining momentum in sustainability circles. […]

  3. paolo says:

    Food and farming challenges through the lens of the “Circular Economy,” a systems-thinking . Search for Partners : H-2020 –Project .EGOCREANET ; Preliiminary proposal : SFS-34-2017.…/o…/h2020/topics/5149-sfs-34-2017.html
    TOPIC :
    Innovative agri-food chains: unlocking the potential for competitiveness and sustainability
    AIMS .
    The sustainability of food systems is challenged by various interrelated factors, such as the changing of the functionality of food as a tool for health quality prevention of nutritional deficiency diseases, the need of reduce,reuse and recycle natural resources, to protect food production chains from environmental degradation and carbon-intensive emissions as the major cause of global climate change leading to an increased number of weather-related disasters. These challenges would be meet a new holistic vision , exploring collaborative multistakehorders approaches to meeting these complex interacting factors in order to develop coordinated initiatives along the value chain. Therefore the project would improve creativity in social innovation able to deliver economic and environmental for future competitiveness and sustainability-
    è Cross fertilization e Cross intensive smart specialization and innovation transfer in Europe.
    The European greenhouse horticulture in geothermal areas represents one of the most intensive energy sector in agriculture and strongly contributes to increase a better energy use in respect to lower the environmental vulnerability as it will be possible within regions that look to the future development of a large protected geothermal greenhouse systems. Traditionally, geothermal energy has been utilized mainly to generate electricity; however, it can be harnessed for other important uses in agriculture and agro-industry. See report Fao :;
    Specifically, the greenhouse farming sector as it is promoted by Egocreanet , focuses a high nutraceutical value of production in order to follow a trend that responds to the changing consumer’s demands about healthy vegetable fresh food at km Zero and with Zero waste in a society that see an acceleration in the climatic changes as a negative consequence of such as high fossil energy -demand within the big emission of CO2. Henceforth the Nutraceutical Greenhouses using geothermal energy in the favourable local geo-climatic conditions in Tuscany represent a developmental strategy for the protection of landscapes able to advance in a future perspective of European AGRI-PEI innovation for improving local productive environment and potential societal growth.
    By : Paolo Manzelli 04 DEC 2015 Firenze;
    è –Egocreanet NGO working within the Business incubator of University of Firenze, is very interested to participate and collaborate as partner to to build a consortium with us on the call SFS-34-2017 in closed collaboration with Tuscany Region and some research groups of CNR and the Universities of Firenze and Pisa for reply to the Topic :…/o…/h2020/topics/5149-sfs-34-2017.html

    2nd stage Deadline:
    14 February 2017 17:00:00
    13 September 2017 17:00:00
    è –> Topic : the call: SFS-34-2017. : “Innovative agri-food chains: unlocking the potential for competitiveness and sustainability”; The Egocreanet & University of Florence contribution may be focused on:
    –> Issue : Nutraceutical Greenhouses leading to new business models and better performing value chains. (provisional)
    Objective :The aim of the proposal is to focus the following goals
    1)future sustainability of food systems through improving a viable and secure high nutraceutical quality of food production ;
    2) Sustainable Management of natural resources in protected Greenhouses as a tool to recycling natural resources, and contrast environmental degradation of soil and climate change and to control the negative impact on agrifood chains caused by the climate change and food plant health
    3) To develop Circular Economy strategy to the design of innovation processes within agro-food chains and to implement their full potential for deliver economic, social and environmental benefits.
    –> The key research question/challenge is to develop long-term projections and modelling through getting a particular attention to provide farmers within a Greenhouse developmental strategy looking for a better risk-management solution and to improve the resilience of the agricultural sector in coping with the environmental and climate risks .
    –> Background/short description.
    è What problem are you trying to solve?
    a) The Regional Agri_Farming sector is increasingly affected by the decrease of land fertility giving stress of food-plant production and also an increase of plant diseases caused by extreme weather events as weel as invasion of new pest species creating constant challenges in the agri- busines sector.
    b) The Nutraceutical Green Houses should work into the Circular Economy perspective lowering emissions of nutrients and a reduction of waste from horticulture. The scientific challenges are to design an advances research on epigenetetic and genetic relationships for bettering the selection of plants, into an semi-artificial environment obtained by controlling irrigation and fertilization strategies, to optimize resilience, robustness and suppressiveness for the pests management and diseases
    c) The Nutraceutical Greenhouses program also would to integrate protected horticulture production , with energy saving, and the use of renewable energy sources to realize climate specific control to obtain the the higher quality of production.
    d) The Nutraceutical Green Houses program will be considered as a high technological tool for food-plant protection from stress and epidemic plant diseases.Therefore the Nutraceutical Greenhouses Innovation would realize a most advanced research of nutritional functional factor of horticulture production including most advanced approaches to biological pest control in order to renewal future farming in Agriculture both in Tuscany and in the world . Such goals may get through playing a crucial role in building up protected constructions for maintaining a viable local production of fresh vegetables and to permit to farmers to fostering sustainability of high quality of products with a better risk management of future.
    è Research and Innovation Actions: Working Program
    (blue-print approach).:
    WP1 – Structure of the Greenhouse and efficiency .
    –> Modularity to contain productions of various vegetables
    –> Variability lighting plants
    –> Automation and control of fertilization on the type of cultivar
    –> Managing the recovery of waste
    WP2 – Alternative Cultivar Choices
    –> to improving nutritional fertility and diseases suppression in different pedo-clima-geographic conditions
    –> to develop sustainable and safe technologies and strategies for water and nutrients recycling .
    –> to design sustainable recycling both of water irrigation and nutrients fertilization .
    WP3 : Nutraceutical Crop Health
    –> To design nutraceutical growth of horticulture systems to suppress greenhouse pests and diseases and enhance nutrition and or therapeutical functions of crops .
    –> To study the better relationships between epigenetic’s and genetic selection of plants in controlled Greenhouse’s system.
    –> to study the rhizosphere of the cultivar in order to reduce the use of chemical fertilizers through the use of microorganisms and biostimulants.
    WP4 : Energy saving and use of alternative sources of energy .
    –> To analyse the energy economy in Nutraceutical greenhouse systems in relation to region, growing system and cropping production agenda .
    –> To develop in different regions in EU the energy efficient process management, the use of renewable sources of energy aiming to decrease the C02 emission in the air.
    WP5; .Design of new greenhouses innovation processes
    – To favor new business models for developing co-creation of social food health prevention .
    -> Search For Partners
    Researchers and SME’s interested to developing a collaborative project for developing Nutraceutical Greenhouses to enabling a protected environment for resilient and sustainable future agricultural farming.
    Expected results/Impact – The project results requested by the call SFS-31-2016
    1) to improve the delivery of the policy framework to agricultural activity thus fostering its sustainability. Particular attention will be paid to the delivery of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP);
    2) to provide farmers with better risk-management tools; and
    improve the resilience of the agricultural sector in coping with the risks it faces.are expected to:
    –> Activities & phases To be written in cooperation .
    è –> Project consortium: (now only as preliminary adhesions )
    1)EgoCreanet NGO of R&D c/o Busines Incunator University og Florence (IT)
    2) Agriculture Dept. University of Florence (IT)
    4) other partner searching phase
    è Paolo Manzelli
    è Marcello Traversi

  4. […] you actually were at the MIT Conference on Food, Farming and the Future, you'll hear why these words sound familiar (although there's a lot of the substance […]

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