The National Prize for the Environment, awarded this year by the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge to Juan Serna for his commitment to organic farming, is a magnificent opportunity to recognize the long and intense career of this environmental activist, a pioneer in so many activities and teacher of many. I myself consider myself one of his disciples, since one of my first approaches to political ecology was looted Extremadura, by José Manuel Naredo, Mario Gaviria and Juan Serna, published in 1978; a book that opened my mind and encouraged me to analyze economic development from a different perspective.
I am happy to be able to collaborate currently with one of Juan’s most interesting initiatives, the Notebooks of Extremadura, which highlight numerous specific examples of economic activities with a positive impact from a social, environmental and territorial point of view. And of course, I have always considered Juan a highly valued reference for his perseverance and consistency, practiced since times very different from the present, when betting on the defense of the environment was understood, by the majority of public opinion, as a position contrary to progress.
His fight against nuclear energy, which I have shared for decades, brought him difficult times —and victories of great social impact, such as when he managed to use dosimeters to measure the radioactivity of workers in uranium mines at the end of the seventies— . A fight that, unfortunately, is still valid, since once again some are committed to extending the schedule for closing nuclear power plants, agreed by the Government with the incumbent companies, under the pretext of the need to advance more quickly in decarbonization as well as in energy autonomy, without accepting that nuclear energy is neither cheap nor clean nor safe.
Juan knew how to defend his ideas as Public Works Counselor of the Junta de Extremadura; and he has also given an example of his commitment to the environment in his role as an entrepreneur in the organic agriculture and livestock sector, demonstrating with the facts that employment can be created without altering the ecological balances essential for life. Friends have enjoyed their products, and, as far as possible, we have promoted them. But any impulse to change the paradigm is today insufficient, as the processes of overcoming the so-called “planetary limits” have accelerated; so we must continue to testify to the viability of sustainable options.
It is time —as Juan Serna said in an article on ecological agriculture, in 1989, regarding the serious threat to biodiversity derived from the increasing use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides— to establish the “culture of the durable” and banish the “culture of immediately”. May this award serve to draw attention to the urgency of a just ecological transition.
Christina Narbonne She is first vice president of the Senate and president of the PSOE.
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