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At Heifer International, "sustainability" is much more than a buzzword. It's at the core of everything we do. If our work didn't improve the environment, we wouldn't be caring for the Earth, would we? As I mentioned in my blog post Thursday, Heifer's work can be viewed through three lenses of sustainability. This post is the third in a three-part series to examine what genuine sustainability looks like at Heifer International. Read Part 1 here. Read Part 2 here.

Sustainability: Using natural resources to meet the needs of the current generation without depleting or compromising resources for future generations

Sustainability needed in Cameroon

By 2050, the Earth's population is expected to reach 9 billion. If the percentage of hungry people remains at the current 13.1 percent, there will be 1.2 billion hungry people in 2050. Of course here at Heifer International, we're not planning on letting that forecast become a reality. But the fact that there will be 9 billion people on the planet in 38 years is daunting to say the least. At 7 billion strong, we can already see the strain we humans put on the environment in many ways.

A common symptom – and cause – of global poverty is poor agriculture practices. Soil erosion and deforestation are but two examples. Climate changes, including drought and severe weather shifts already hurt the world's most poor and vulnerable.

If we are to help millions of families feed themselves and the growing world population, we have to do everything with environmental sustainability in mind. Organic farming methods, zero-grazing pens, biogas units and water cisterns are all examples of how we achieve the "Caring for the Earth" part of our mission in every project we do, no matter the size.

Sustainability in Peru

Dolores Delgado's farm in Peru is a great example of how our project participants are improving their own lives while also improving their environment. Right from the start of her involvement in the project, Dolores began turning guinea pig waste into organic fertilizer for her vegetable and fodder crops. Her farm was an oasis in a tough part of the world.

At our headquarters in Little Rock, Arkansas, we do our best to "walk the sustainability talk." Our building has a Platinum LEED rating, we have installed solar panels to help meet our energy needs, we have a giant water cistern to harvest rain.

Learn more about how Heifer International works to achieve environmental sustainability.

Tell me in the comments section below: What does genuine sustainability look like to you? What improvements do you think we could all make to help make our work have more lasting impact, our donations go farther, and our planet Earth last longer?

Do you want to help impoverished farmers in Peru learn new ways to thrive in the face of climate change? Give to our project now.


Pierre Ferrari

Pierre Ferrari is president and CEO of Heifer International. Pierre is very passionate about empowering the families and communities with whom Heifer works: “It took me decades, but I have come to know that the only way to happiness and joy is to be of service to others.” Pierre’s other joys are his wife, Kim, his two sons and two stepdaughters. In his free time he enjoys golf, squash, reading and travel.