Hemp and the sustainable development goals

Chapter 7

The Sustainable Development Goals (SGD’s) were set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 and came into effect on 2016 January. They aim to balance the ecological, social and economic dimensions of sustainable development and consequently end poverty, protect the earth and ensure equitable peace and prosperity for all. They address some global such as environmental degradation, poverty, climate change, and peace and justice. Here are some of the ways hemp can help accomplish the SGD’s

No poverty, availability of decent work, and Economic growth

Unemployment is one of the leading causes of poverty, but hemp may help mitigate it because it requires intensive work from its cultivation to production. Hemp farmers can grow it in various climates, and it grows so densely that they may need to employ workers to cultivate it and to separate the different parts before processing. It is also used to make a variety of products which will translate into industrial jobs and consequently create employment for more people. This will also contribute to the economic growth of the country.

Good health and wellbeing

Hemp seeds are a superfood. They contain enough proteins, carbohydrates, fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins to supplement unbalanced diets particularly for vegetarians and those facing starvation in desert areas and in 3rd world countries. Furthermore, hemp has a high concentration of CBD which has a lot of medical uses. CBD is currently being incorporated into food and supplements and also being consumed unprocessed aiding in the management of many chronic and non-chronic ailments in humans and animals. This may be a good step forward for pharmaceutical companies because it does not have some of the side effects that synthetic inorganic medicines have.

Clean water and sanitation

This goal aims to increase the sustainability and accessibility of our water sources. Hemp can help achieve this goal in three main ways. Forests serve as water catchment areas, but they are cut down for timber and papermaking. Hemp is a good source of paper and an acre of hemp yields 4x more paper than a forest, besides the fact that it takes a much shorter time to grow. By planting hemp, we can be able to reduce the rate of deforestation. The second way is by bioremediation. Hemp can be used to clean up sewage water making it safer to use. Finally, a lot of our water sources are polluted by plastics. Hemp can be used to produce bioplastics that would not lead to water pollution, therefore, preventing further pollution.

Sustainable cities and communities and Affordable, clean energy

Currently, most of our energy is from fossil fuels. They have led to an increase in pollution by increasing greenhouse emissions. This goal aims to push for renewable sources of energy such as hydrothermal, solar, wind and biomass energy. Hemp is a good source of the latter. Its fast growth rate implies that we can obtain a lot of fuel from it in a short amount of time and its growth will also contribute to reducing greenhouse gases as plants use CO2 for photosynthesis. As our fossil fuel sources get depleted, biofuels may come to our rescue by not only providing cleaner energy but also by cleaning up the pollution effects caused by fossil fuels. When cities begin using renewable sources of fuels and planting hemp, they can make their cities more sustainable.

Industry innovation and infrastructure and Responsible production and consumption

Hemp may help in creating eco-friendly infrastructures such as green homes. The use of hempcrete is still being researched, but the benefits known so far are a good sign. Furthermore, the many uses of hemp will lead to innovation particularly for industries. Since hemp is organic, these industries will be more sustainable as their products will not contribute to pollution as much as non-organic products do. A lot of legislation and regulations will, however, have to be put in place to ensure that these industries use safe, eco-friendly materials and dispose of their waste correctly.

Life on land

As was mentioned earlier, hemp will help reduce the rate of deforestation. Besides that, hemp can be grown as an alternative to some cash crops like cotton. It is cultivation requires no agrochemicals and very little water. Another way it will help is by bioremediation. Hemp is used by farmers during crop rotation and intercropping to suck toxins from the soil, increase fertility and reduce soil erosion. Furthermore, it is also being used to clean up toxic waste such as oil spills and radioactive isotopes, therefore, rehabilitating land.

Climate action

Greenhouse gases have contributed to the increase in temperature of our planet. Planting of hemp will lead to absorption of more CO2 and secondly because they serve as alternatives to trees for various products reducing deforestation.

Hemp’s are very diverse, and if we play our cards right, we may be able to mitigate some of the harmful things we have done to our planet while making it more sustainable and eco-friendly for us and future generations to come.

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