By Tracy Austin, Executive Director of Mitsubishi Corporation Foundation
Since December of 2016, the Mitsubishi Corporation Foundation for the Americas has been supporting the Grupo Ecologic de Sierra Gorda (GESG), a grassroots organization that is working with small-scale landowners to advance a new regenerative model of agriculture that encourages sustainable management practices to achieve natural capital conservation, soil regeneration, and climate change mitigation. GESG’s project has actually been designated a NAMA (Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action) for Mexico, and as such it is helping Mexico achieve its commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement.
Regenerative agriculture involves farming and grazing practices that focus on improving the life-giving (regenerative) nature of soil through natural processes – e.g., without the application of harmful and expensive inputs to enhance fertility — while reducing the need for water and also helping to reverse carbon emissions from agriculture by sequestering CO2 in the soil where it is put to productive use by Mother Nature. This regenerative model in which animal grazing and agriculture are made to support each other is as old as time; it is depicted in ancient Egyptian paintings like the one shown here. But it has largely been overshadowed by “modern” approaches that support large, industrial-scale agriculture that depletes the soil’s fertility and increases CO2 emissions.
Although we did not envision our support for this project as an example of indigenous philanthropy, this project presents a model that is ideally suited for indigenous communities that are engaged in small-scale farming, and are inclined toward a more sustainable, holistic way of life. It also presents an opportunity to indigenous communities to become more resilient to the very modern threat of climate change.
This project demonstrates how corporate foundations can compliment indigenous philanthropy efforts, in this case to educate small-scale farmers and ranchers on various aspects of holistic management.