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Ecologically sustainable development without the jargon: A living example

By James Archibald

JArchibald 0552 2In conducting a recent project on the terminology of ecologically sustainable development (ESD), the research group from the Association for Business Communication (ABC),1 under the leadership of Prof. Marcel Robles from Eastern Kentucky University, soon realized that there was a cognitive divide between what official organizations had to say and what real people on the ground talk about.2 Concrete examples were found of the difference between the semi-specialized and specialized terminology used by government agencies and regulators and the work of people on the ground who are on the front lines defending real ecosystems.3

The Abbatucci family farm

A telling example comes from the Abbatucci farm in Corsica’s Taravo Valley. The farm, which has been in the family for generations, is a mix of cattle farm and vineyard. It produces wine, meat products and hides at the same time. The three Abbatucci brothers, who inherited and run the farm, plan to preserve their agricultural heritage and their family’s traditions. 4

The most vocal of the three Abbatucci brothers is Jacques whom we could call the family ecologist. He doesn’t jargonize. He is a straight talker, uses plain language and wants to be easily understood. He knows what it means to raise cattle, to be a wine grower, and to run an ecological low-input operation. He does not want to hide behind difficult-to-understand concepts, words or obscure professional language. He understands and believes in ecologically sustainable development (ESD). In his life, he focuses on action. 

Examples of his ecological action are legion: farm equipment that runs on biodiesel fuel recycled from used cooking oil from his brother’s restaurant in the nearby village, the mulch and poultry droppings used to fertilize the farm’s vineyards and pastures, the solar power which fuels the farm’s operations, the chemical-free cleaning methods used in the barns and slaughterhouse which rely on using pressure hoses, and recycling everything coming from the slaughterhouse to avoid waste. The bottom line for Jacques, the ecologist: nothing should be wasted.5 That means a clean, ecologically sustainable farm. 

Jacques Abbatucci is not a theorist or a professional agronomist, but he is resolutely committed to sustainable farming, ecology, and the respect of animals as sentient beings6 in the way in which he raises and slaughters his cattle. Moreover, his commitment is completely compatible with ESD principles shared by many European Union member states. His slaughterhouse has been recognized as the only fully ecological one in France!

Internationally recognized ESD principles

These principles, which the Abbatucci brothers are putting into practice, were spelled out at the 2021 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.7 The shared commitment called for the proactive management of potential impacts on the environment and local communities. European member states should accordingly encourage sustainable behaviours and promote the responsible use of resources throughout the supply chain. ESD’s ultimate goal is to leave a positive legacy and to ensure intergenerational environmental sustainability, all this in conformity with international standards in environmental management which provide “tools for translating passion into effective action.” 8

Notwithstanding the passion and commitment of stakeholders in the ESD movement, it is nevertheless necessary to arrive at a common understanding of some of the key terms that affect farming practices. This work was undertaken by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has helped to define these universal principles. The EPA’s glossary of terms brings some clarity to the discussion.9 Let us focus on three terms of interest: sustainable agriculture, sustainable land management and sustainable development.10

Sustainable agriculture11 consists of “environmentally friendly methods of farming that allow the production of crops or livestock without damage to the farm as an ecosystem, including effects on soil, water supplies, biodiversity, or other surrounding natural resources. The concept of sustainable agriculture is an ‘intergenerational’ one in which we pass on a conserved or improved natural resource base instead of one which has been depleted or polluted. Terms often associated with farms or ranches that are self-sustaining include ‘low-input’, ‘organic’, ‘ecological’, ‘biodynamic’, and ‘permaculture’.”

EPA defines the practice of sustainable land management as follows: “the use of land resources, including soils, water, animals and plants, for the production of goods to meet changing human needs, while simultaneously ensuring the long-term sustainable land management and the productive potential of these resources and the maintenance of their environmental functions.” The Abbatucci farming practices are in total conformity with this definition which reflects at the same time international standards of sustainable land management in the agricultural sector. 

These notions are subsumed under the category of sustainable development as noted above. The EPA views this sector as key to respecting “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs and provides economic, social and environmental benefits in the long term.”

Assuming an intergenerational responsibility

Jacques Abbatucci has proven to be extremely sensitive to the needs of living and future generations. Intergenerational responsibility is one of his fundamental beliefs and a driving force behind his actions. He sees it as his responsibility to sustain the breed of cattle12 which is the family trademark and to keep the vineyard in the family tradition while at the same time acting always as a key ESD stakeholder.

This really captures his philosophy of farming, his love and respect of the land and his animals, as well as his desire to pass the family legacy on to future generations. This follows what François Casabianca, senior researcher at the French National Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment, has called Corsica’s emerging transition from industrialized farming practices to ecologically sustainable agriculture. The Abbatucci family farm is a positive example of an inheritance that preserves the pride and traditions of a whole community and builds on the real sustainability of traditional pastoral agriculture. 13

Jacques Abbatucci’s language is that which is shared by all, but his actions mirror international standards in ecologically sustainable development. As wordsmiths, translators can take a page from Mr. Abbatucci’s playbook, understand and internalize ESD concepts, know the terminology, reflect the values, transfer the knowledge, and remain genuine and speak plainly.

The Abbatucci family’s commitment to ecologically sustainable farming will help to make this happen. Their philosophy can be summed up this way:

On est des combattants pour la nature, pour essayer d'améliorer le monde et de transmettre quelque chose qui ne soit simplement pas honteux pour les générations futures.14

James Archibald currently teaches at the University of Turin following a 35-year career at McGill University. A member of the Office des professions du Québec from 2008 to 2021, he serves on the Conseil supérieur de la langue française and is an ISO expert in translation. 


Agence France Presse. “Vin, veau, resto: les frères Abbatucci, success-story de la gastronomie corse.” La Croix (October 4, 2018).
Archibald, J. Organizational Communication: Sustainability and Ethics in Communication. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, Inc., 2021.
Barroux, Rémi. “Les Abbatucci, trois frères dévoués aux saveurs corses.” Le Monde (October 28, 2015). 
Casabianca, François. “L’élevage pastoral en Corse. Les enseignements à tirer d’une trajectoire d’évolution,” Pour, vol. 231, no. 3, 2016, pp. 179-185.
Cotens, Alice. “Les vaches tigres de Corse “. mon-Cutivar-élevage (July 7, 2015).
Franceschetti, Dominique. “Vivre et travailler au pays.” Le Monde diplomatique (July 2019). Vivre et travailler au pays, par Dominique Franceschetti (Le Monde diplomatique, juillet 2019) (
Délégation générale à la langue française et aux langues de France (DGLFLF). Vocabulaire du développement durable. PARIS: DGLFLF, 2015. Librairie / FranceTerme / Ressources / Accueil - 
Le Carre, Éric. “Florilège des ressources terminologiques… durables”, Traduire 242 (2020): 84-87. 
Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF). Vocabulaire du développement durable. QUÉBEC: OQLF, 2006. 


2) Archibald, J., 2021.
3) See Franceschetti, Dominique, 2019.  See also Casabianca, François, 2016. 
4) La ferme, une histoire de vie. “Il était une fois, un héritage d'une grand-mère à son petit-fils dans la Vallée du Taravo. Jacques Abbatucci, l'idéal à la main, fit revivre la terre d'antan…”
5) This is what policy makers refer to as “energy recovery from waste” which the Délégation Générale à la Langue Française et aux Langues de France (DGLFLF) translates as the “valorisation énergétique des déchets.” DGLFLF 2015. 
6) The term “sentient” was just added to Larousse. On the subject of feelings in the animal kingdom, see the work of Astrid Guillaume: Sensibilité, conscience, sentience animalières : nuances sémantiques - February 2021.  
7) Sustainability. Sustainability - UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) at the SEC – Glasgow 2021 (
8) ISO and the environment. 
9) EPA. Terminology Services - System of Registries | US EPA  See EPA’s Terminology Services: 
10) Développement durable - Politique de développement qui s’efforce de concilier la protection de l’environnement, l’efficience économique et la justice sociale, en vue de répondre aux besoins des générations présentes sans compromettre la capacité des générations futures de satisfaire les leurs. […] See also: agriculture durable.  (DGLFLF, 2015) and Éric Le Carre, 2020. 
11) Agriculture durable - Système d'exploitation agricole dont l'organisation et les pratiques satisfont des critères de respect à long terme de l'environnement physique, économique et social. (OQLF, 2013).
12) Vaches tigres. See Alice Cotens 2015.
13) Casabianca, 184-85.
14) Agence France Presse.


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