• Tim Hammerich

The 12 Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development



You may have heard of the basic concept around Heifer International. Donors to the organization provide funds to buy an animal (cow, goat, duck, etc.).


That animal is given to someone in a developing country with the understanding that they pass on the first offspring to someone else in the community. Then the original recipient gets to retain the future offspring/milk/eggs/etc. from that animal for life.

The gift that keeps on giving.


Very cool.


I got the chance to sit down with David Norman, Senior VP of Investment Programs for Heifer International to learn more about how all this works in practice.


I was blown away at David’s stories of how Heifer takes a holistic view to the communities they serve. They are doing so much more than just distributing livestock. Heifer partners with the the community to build markets which start to build food security. They look at how they can build the capacity for both supply and demand of agricultural goods so that the communities can continue to sustain a growing local agricultural economy.



In my conversation with David, he also shares some of the challenges and struggles to executing this mission. We discuss everything from funding to infrastructure to access to markets.


One interesting concept that David shared with me was Heifer’s 12 Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development.


I thought these cornerstones were clear, and actionable. As we all think about what we can do to contribute to food security through agricultural development, we should certainly keep these 12 cornerstones in mind. They form the acronym “P.A.S.S.I.N.G. G.I.F.T.S.”


P — Passing on the Gift

A — Accountability

S — Sharing and Caring

S — Sustainability and Self-Reliance

I — Improved Animal Management

N — Nutrition and Income

G — Gender and Family Focus

G — Genuine Need and Justice

I — Improving the Environment

F — Full Participation

T — Training, Education and Communication

S — Spirituality


Hopefully this gives you hope that there IS something we can do to build just and sustainable food systems in communities around the world.