A business innovation at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park has been chosen to illustrate a global ethical business initiative.

The VertiCrop vertical farming system – the first of its kind to go on public display anywhere in the world – has been chosen to illustrate one of the principles of the Earth Charter.

The Earth Charter is a declaration of ethical business principles. It came out of the 1992 Earth Summit and has been formally endorsed by organizations including UNESCO and the IUCN.

Pictures of Success is a web site that uses examples from UK business to explain the Earth Charter. VertiCrop has been chosen to illustrate principle 5c, “Promote the recovery of endangered species and ecosystems.”

Paignton Zoo Curator of Plants and Gardens Kevin Frediani said: “Pictures of Success challenges the conventional view of business success. UK companies are helping to address poverty, hunger, climate change, environmental degradation and other pressing issues. Often in partnership with other organisations, they are changing the world.”

The project was chosen after a talk Kevin gave for the School of Social Entrepreneurs.

“The framework of the Earth Charter adds credibility. Each principle of the Earth Charter is illustrated with a case study from a UK business, placing the actions of UK companies in the context of a global view of sustainability. It shows that business can be ethical and successful.

“High density vertical farming has enormous potential. Because it uses less water, less space and less energy, it could work equally well in cities, producing fresh food with zero food miles, in deserts, using solar power, or in developing countries, reducing the need to destroy natural habitat for agricultural purposes.”

The company behind VertiCrop has now changed its name from Valcent to Alterrus.

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