World Food Day 2018: Celebrating the World Best Agroecology Policies

It’s World Food Day today! Being one of the most celebrated international days, the World Future Council is especially proud that we just distinguished eight truly exemplary policies scaling up agroecology with our Future Policy Award 2018. Among them are policies from Brazil, Denmark, Ecuador, India, the Philippines, Senegal, the United States of America, as well as TEEBAgrifood that accelerate the transformative change in the way we produce and consume our food.

Yesterday evening a high-level Award Ceremony was held in the prestigious Sheikh Zayed Centre of FAO Headquarters in Rome, Italy, in presence of more than 150 Heads of State, Ministers, Permanent Representatives and other eminent guests, including FAO Deputy Director-General Ms Maria-Helena Semedo.

(c) FAO

(c) FAO

(c) FAO

Three World Future Councillors – Prof. Dr Vandana Shiva, Dr. Hans R. Herren and Helmy Abouleish – who are also Right Livelihood Award Laureates were on stage.

 

(c) FAO

Among the representatives of winning policies was H.E. Dr. Pawan Chamling, Honourable Chief Minister of the Indian State of Sikkim, who received the Gold Prize for having realised the first organic state in the world. H.E. Dr. Chamling was accompanied by an entire delegation, including Mr. Somnath Poudyal, Agriculture Minister of Sikkim, and Mr. Mani Kumar Pradhan, Director of Sikkim Organic Mission.

Ms. Vibeke Gram Mortensen representing the current Danish Minister for Environment and Food, Hon. Mette Gjerskov, former Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Mr. Paul Holmbeck from Organic Denmark all came to collect the Silver Award for Denmark’s Organic Action Plan of 2011-2020, which resulted in Denmark having today the highest market share of organic products in the world.

From Brazil, H.E. Alberto Beltrame, Minister of Social Development, joined, along with Ms. Lilian Rahal, National Secretary for Food and Nutrition Security, Mr. Henrique Villa da Costa Ferreira, Executive Secretary for Sustainable Development Goals, Mr. Rogério Augusto Neuwald, Executive Secretary of  National Commission of Agroecology and Organic Production (CNAPO), and Ms. Maria Verônica de Santana, Executive Secretary of the Northeastern Rural Worker’s Movement (MMTR-NE). Together, they were handed over the 2nd Silver Prize for the country’s Policy on Agroecology and Organic Production, which in its first cycle of activities led to impressive quantitative results in terms of advancing the agroecological agenda in the country (budget and initiative-wise), investing over EUR 364 million.

The third Silver Award that went to Quito’s Participatory Urban Agriculture Programme AGRUPAR, Ecuador, was personally accepted by Mr. Alfonso Abdo, Executive Director of CONQUITO. AGRUPAR fosters food security, increases incomes, and enhances ecosystem functions, and led to over 3,600 urban gardens growing on 32 hectares and more than 21,000 people trained in ecological production.

This year’s Future Policy Vision Award honoured TEEBAgriFood, a unique comprehensive evaluation framework which allows assessing of impacts and externalities of food systems. The trophy was proudly received by Dr. Steven Stone from UN Environment, Mr. Pavan Sukhdev, Goodwill Ambassador of UN Environment and former World Future Councillor, and Mr. Alexander Müller, TEEBAgriFood Study Leader.

Mr. Rommel C. Arnado, current Mayor of Kauswagan in the Philippines, Mr. Oumar Bâ, current Mayor of Ndiob and President of REVES, Senegal, and Ms. Paula Daniels, Chair of Board and Co-Founder of Center for Good Food Purchasing, and Ms. Alexa Delwiche, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Center for Good Food Purchasing from Los Angeles, USA came personally to receive the Honourable Mentions for Kauswagan’s From Arms to Farms Programme of 2011, Ndiob’s Vision to become a green, resilient municipality of 2014 and Agriculture Development Programme of 2017, and the Good Food Purchasing Policy that was first adopted by Los Angeles in 2012.

Alexandra Wandel, Director of the World Future Council, who acted also as Master of Ceremonies, says: “It was a truly exciting live webcasted event! We profoundly thank everyone. We thank all our partners – foremost FAO, IFOAM, DO-IT, GCI, SEKEM, and ECORNATURASI, all awardees and speakers, as well as jury members, but also the many experts and volunteers, who supported us in making this year’s Future Policy Award possible. It has been a great success!”

Alexandra Wandel, World Future Council (c) FAO

After the Award Ceremony all guests were invited to a 100% organic cocktail reception. Partners, awardees and speakers then came together for a Roman agroecological dinner, which rounded off this exceptional occurrence and celebrated the eve of World Food Day with local, healthy, organic and agroecological food.

NOTE: All images shown in this post are the property of UN FAO. Available via Flickr.

Press release: 2018 Future Policy Award winners announced

Future Policy Award 2018 crowns best policies on agroecology and sustainable food systems

The “100% organic state” Sikkim in India wins Gold. Policies from Brazil, Denmark and Ecuador honoured with Silver Awards

 

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Hamburg/Rome, 12 October 2018 – The world’s best laws and policies promoting agroecology are awarded the Future Policy Award (FPA) 2018. The “100% organic state” Sikkim, in India, is this year’s winner of the “Oscar for best policies”, beating 51 nominated policies from 25 countries. Policies from Brazil, Denmark and Quito (Ecuador) take home Silver Awards. This year’s award is co-organised by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Future Council (WFC) and IFOAM – Organics International.

 

Gold Prize winner Sikkim is the first organic state in the world. All of its farmland is certified organic. At the same time, Sikkim’s approach reaches beyond organic production and has proven truly transformational for the state and its citizens. Embedded in its design are socioeconomic aspects such as consumption and market expansion, cultural aspects as well as health, education, rural development and sustainable tourism. The policy implemented a phase out of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, and achieved a total ban on sale and use of chemical pesticides in the state. The transition has benefitted more than 66 000 farming families. The Sikkim tourism sector has benefitted greatly from the state’s transition to 100 percent organic:  the number of tourists increased by over 50 percent between 2014 and 2017. As such, Sikkim sets an excellent example of how other Indian states and countries worldwide can successfully upscale agroecology.

 

Three Silver Awards are granted to:

  • Brazil’s National Policy for Agroecology and Organic Production (PNAPO, 2012): In its first cycle of activities PNAPO invested 364 million Euros. Amongst others, it helped 5,300 municipalities to invest 30% or more of their school feeding budgets in organic and agroecological products purchased from family farmers.
  • Denmark’s Organic Action Plan (2011-2020, updated in 2015): As a result of the Action Plan, Denmark has the highest market share of organic products in the world, with almost 80 percent of Danes purchasing organic food.
  • Quito’s Participatory Urban Agriculture Programme (AGRUPAR, 2002): With over 3 600 urban gardens growing on 32 hectares and more than 21 000 people trained, AGRUPAR fosters food security, increases incomes, and enhances ecosystem functions.

 

The Vision Award goes to TEEBAgriFood, an initiative of “The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity” (TEEB) by UN Environment. TEEBAgriFood has developed a comprehensive evaluation framework for food systems that helps decision-makers to compare different policies and the market to value food more accurately.

 

The three Honourable Mentions of the Future Policy Award, this year go to the Good Food Purchasing Policy of Los Angeles, USA (2012), to the Agriculture Development Programme of Ndiob, Senegal (2017) and to the From Arms to Farms Programme of Kauswagan, the Philippines (2011).

 

Winners of this year’s Future Policy Award will be celebrated in a ceremony on 15 October 2018 at FAO headquarters during the World Food Week in Rome. A life webcast is available at http://www.fao.org/webcast/home/en/item/4874/icode/ and photos at: https://flic.kr/s/aHskKjojGW

The Future Policy Award 2018 is co-organised by the World Future Council, FAO and IFOAM – Organics International, with the support of Green Cross International, DO-IT – Dutch Organic International Trade, Sekem Group, Egypt and EcorNaturaSi, Italy.

Statements from the World Future Council, FAO and IFOAM – Organics International:

“By scaling up agroecology, it is possible to tackle malnutrition, social injustice, climate change, and loss of biodiversity. Through effective, holistic policymaking, we can transform our food systems so that they respect people and planet. The 2018 Future Policy Award winners prove that it is feasible – and how. Policymakers across the globe should follow their example and step up similar exemplary political action!” says Alexandra Wandel, Director of the World Future Council.

 

Maria-Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director-General, states: “A transition to sustainable food and agriculture systems is critical to achieving sustainable development, and the 2018 Future Policy Award is unique as it highlights policies that advance such a transition. FAO is proud to honour, along with the World Future Council and IFOAM – Organics International, such leadership and political will.”

 

“This year’s Future Policy Award honours exceptional policies adopted by political leaders who have decided to act, no longer accepting widespread hunger, poverty or environmental degradation. They are committed to better food and agriculture systems, and have achieved unimaginable change,” notes Louise Luttikholt, Executive Director of IFOAM – Organics International. “One of them is Sikkim’s Chief Minister Pawan Chamling who set an ambitious vision and achieved it: Sikkim became the first organic state in the world – 100% Organic is no longer a pipe dream but a reality, serving as an outstanding role model for others to follow.”

Note to editors

More Information about the winning policies can be found here: https://www.worldfuturecouncil.org/future-policy-award-2018-agroecology-brochure

Follow the 2018 Future Policy Award on Twitter with #FuturePolicyAward or #FPA2018

About the Future Policy Award

The Future Policy Award is the only award which honours policies on an international level. Each year, the World Future Council chooses a topic for the Future Policy Award on which policy progress is particularly urgent. In partnership with FAO and IFOAM – Organics International, the 2018 Future Policy Award will highlight policies that scale up agroecology to contribute to the protection of life and livelihoods of small-scale food producers, ensure sustainable food production systems and implement climate resilient agricultural practices. More information about this year’s Future Policy Award is available at: https://www.worldfuturecouncil.org/2018-agroecology

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Press Release: Shortlist Future Policy Award 2018

Champions in supporting agroecological approaches: Shortlist of Future Policy Award 2018 out now

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Best policies promoting agroecological approaches shortlisted for international award include candidates from Brazil, Denmark, Ecuador, India, the Philippines, Senegal, the United States of America, as well as TEEBAgrifood. Recognising that a transition to sustainable food and agriculture systems is crucial to achieve sustainable development and climate resilience, the 2018 Future Policy Award will celebrate policies that create enabling environments that advance such a transition. This year’s award is co-organised by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Future Council (WFC) and IFOAM–Organics International.

Hamburg/Rome, 4 October 2018 – In 2018, the Future Policy Award (FPA) will commend proven policies that effectively scale up agroecological approaches at local, national and international levels. It will celebrate outstanding examples for accelerating the transformative change in the way we produce and consume our food. Since a big part of the current food systems are input and resource-intensive, our environment – soil, water, climate, air quality and biodiversity – continues to degrade. A transition towards sustainable food systems not only leads to healthy nutrition for all and contributes to social and economic equity, but it also tackles global warming as well as conserves biodiversity and the ecosystem services on which agriculture and human well-being depends.

In total, 51 policies from 25 countries were nominated. An international expert jury convened to deliberate on the top candidates. The following have been shortlisted as the world’s best policies in the support to scale up agroecological approaches:

  • Brazil: National Policy for Agroecology and Organic Production (PNAPO, 2012)
  • Denmark: Organic Action Plan for Denmark: Working together for more organics (2011-2020, updated in 2015)
  • Ecuador: Quito’s Participatory Urban Agriculture Programme (AGRUPAR, 2002)
  • India: Sikkim’s State Policy on Organic Farming (2004) and Sikkim Organic Mission (2010)
  • Philippines: Kauswagan: From Arms to Farms Programme (2010)
  • Senegal: Ndiob’s vision to become a green and resilient municipality (2014) and its Agriculture Development Programme (2017)
  • United States of America: Los Angeles’ Good Food Purchasing Policy (2012)
  • UN Environment: TEEBAgriFood – The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for Agriculture and Food Evaluation Framework, 2018.

Additional information on each policy can be found here

With their holistic approach and impressive impact, these eight legal frameworks and policies create enabling environments for the implementation of agroecology, help achieve the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda and contribute directly to multiple Sustainable Development Goals. They aim at protecting the life and livelihoods of smallholders and family farmers, ensuring sustainable and inclusive food systems, and implementing sustainable agricultural practices that help conserve and enhance natural resources and strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change and contribute to mitigation.

Winners of this year’s Future Policy Award will be announced on 12 October 2018 and celebrated during World Food Week in a ceremony on 15 October 2018 at FAO headquarters in Rome. You are warmly invited to join the Future Policy Award 2018 Ceremony in person. Please register here by 7th October 2018. The event will be webcast live.

The Future Policy Award 2018 is co-organised by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Future Council and IFOAM – Organics International, with the support of Green Cross International, DO-IT – Dutch Organic International Trade and Sekem Group, Egypt.

Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director-General, states: “Agroecology is a key pathway to support the transition towards healthier and more sustainable food systems. The selected policies are outstanding examples featuring important agroecological elements that support such transitions. Leadership and political will are key to achieve them. FAO encourages such leadership and is committed to join hands to accelerate the needed transformation.

“Unsustainable land use threatens our environment and human well-being. We must act before it is too late. But there is hope: these eight policy solutions show how we can effectively transform our agriculture and food systems. The World Future Council is looking forward to celebrating the best policies advancing agroecology in the interest of future generations, and to sharing their success stories. We can – and should – learn from them how to shape food systems so that every human being can benefit without harming Mother Nature,’’ says Alexandra Wandel, Director of the World Future Council.

“The potential of agroecology to achieve healthy nutrition for all and to address social injustice, climate change and biodiversity loss has been internationally recognised”, notes Peggy Miars, World Board President of IFOAM – Organics International. “These shortlisted policies underline that policymakers in all corners of the world have heard the alarm bell ringing and took the urgently needed action. Let’s highlight and reward these impactful policies!”

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Additional information for editors

About the shortlisted policies

 

Brazil: National Policy for Agroecology and Organic Production (PNAPO, 2012)

Developed as a result of intense civil society engagement and structured around seven comprehensive guidelines that encompass the most relevant aspects of sustainable food chains and systems, Brazil’s National Policy for Agroecology and Organic Production is a unique federal framework policy for the promotion of agroecology and organic production in Brazil. In its first cycle of activities it led to impressive quantitative results in terms of advancing the agroecological agenda in the country (budget and initiative-wise), investing over EUR 364 million, resulting in visible large-scale improvements for smallholders and vulnerable groups in Brazil. Amongst others, it constructed 143,000 cisterns; assisted 5,300 municipalities to spend 30 per cent or more of their school meal programme budget on purchases of organic and agroecological products from family farmers; assisted 393 rural family farming organizations; launched several public calls that enabled agroecological organizations to expand their staff on an unprecedented scale benefitting about 132,744 farming families; trained 7,722 technicians and 52,779 farmers; promoted 24 networks for agroecology; trained 960 professionals and political leaders on financing women in organic and agroecological agriculture, which benefitted 5,200 rural women in 20 different Brazilian States; financed nine projects for seeds for agroecology; and much more.

Denmark: Organic Action Plan for Denmark: Working together for more organics (2011-2020, updated in 2015)

Developed by involving a broad spectrum of stakeholders, Denmark’s Organic Action Plan (OAP) supports diversified agroecological farming and a holistic strategy to build long-term fertility, healthy agro-ecosystems and secure livelihoods, by increasing, on the one hand, the overall demand for organic agricultural products in Denmark and abroad, and hence stimulating farmers’ motivation to convert from conventional to organic food production, and on the other hand stimulating research and product innovation. The OAP is supported by substantial dedicated funding, has invested so far around EUR 192 million (2015 to 2018) and produced very clear positive outcomes: Today Denmark has the highest market share for organic food among all EU countries and the highest annual per capita spending on organic food. Amongst others, the OAP motivated municipalities through a national goal to achieve 60 per cent organic in all public kitchens, by earmarking funds to support the conversion process and primarily through the education of kitchen leaders and workers, and changes in supply chains and menus; thereby, for instance, the city of Copenhagen succeeded in developing one of the most ambitious public procurement programmes in Europe, which met the goal of 90 per cent organic food in 2015, without an increase in meal prices.

Ecuador: Quito’s Participatory Urban Agriculture Programme (AGRUPAR, 2002)

Launched in the aftermath of a deep economic crisis and set up on the basis of a broad, largely women-led community consultation, Quito’s Participatory Urban Agriculture Programme promotes the production, processing, marketing and distribution of healthy organic food from urban and peri-urban gardens in the Metropolitan District of Quito. In its 16 years of existence, AGRUPAR has continuously expanded and considerably advanced food security, job creation, income generation, environmental management, gender equity, social inclusion of vulnerable groups such as women, elderly and migrants, and micro-entrepreneurship. Among AGRUPAR’s impressive results are: 4,500 participants that now produce more than 870,000 kg of food products per year for the city; more than 3,600 urban gardens that cover 32 hectares in total; more than 21,000 people – 84 per cent of whom are women – trained in organic production; more than 6,600 bio-fairs attended by about 170,000 consumers that have been organized so far; more than 170 micro-enterprises that created more than 330 jobs with an average income of USD 3,100; and much more.

India: Sikkim’s State Policy on Organic Farming (2004) and Sikkim Organic Mission (2010)

Political commitment to support organic farming in Sikkim began in 2003 and was consolidated in 2010 with the design of the Sikkim Organic Mission, a road map that clearly detailed all the measures necessary to achieve the target of becoming a fully organic state by 2015 – the first such far-sighted and visionary policy commitment by a state in India or indeed the world. By setting the 100% organic goal and implementing this political strategy, Sikkim reveals itself as a ground-breaking policy that takes all necessary measures to reverse the prevailing economic logic, which favours forms of food production failing to preserve the biodiversity and ecosystem functions agriculture depends on. This action plan, together with its linked policies, is unique in its boldness and notable for the holistic approach adopted, tackling many aspects needed for the transition towards organic farming (input provision, capacity building, etc.) in combination with mandatory requirements, such as gradually banning chemical fertilizers and pesticides, with support and incentives, thus providing sustainable alternatives. As a result, in December 2015 Sikkim became the first organic state in the world with more than 66,000 farming families practicing organic farming state-wide, managing 75,000 ha organic certified, and tourism augmented considerably: between 2012 and 2016 the number of Indian tourists increased by 40 per cent, meaning more than 800,000 people per year, while the number of foreign visitors doubled.

Philippines: Kauswagan: From Arms to Farms Programme (2010)

Having experienced over three decades of Moro conflict, Kauswagan in the Philippines witnessed and suffered from the atrocities of war until 2010, when the local government introduced an outstanding policy that shows how conflict resolution can be achieved by tackling food security – the programme ‘From Arms to Farms: Walking through the Paths of Peace’ that addressed the root causes of the conflict, which were poverty, food insecurity and inequalities between population groups, notably Muslims and Christians. Based on a broad participation of different actors, led by the Local Government Units and other support groups, the programme proved very successful by helping over 600 former combatants to reintegrate into society through farming and thanks to strong leadership and well-conceived governance, Kauswagan turned from a territory disrupted by decades of war into a platform for innovation and sustainable agricultural development. As a result of this exemplary programme, no incidents of crime related to armed conflict between Muslims and Christians have been registered in the last four years in the area; the rate of poverty in the area decreased to 40 per cent in 2016, thus meeting the programme’s target in just five years; food production increased thanks to the fact that 300 ha of previously abandoned land are now cultivated by ex-fighters under organic and agroecological practices; and communities have been positively affected because they can send their children to school.

Senegal: Ndiob’s vision to become a green and resilient municipality (2014) and its Agriculture Development Programme (2017)

Thanks to a very engaged Mayor and Municipal Council as well as local community, Ndiob became the first city in Senegal to embark on an agroecological transition. Designed in a large community consultation, citizens from 18 Ndiob’s villages formulated their Agriculture Development Programme, which includes five priorities: food security, management of natural resources, soil fertility, livestock breeding and farming, and agriculture. Investing a notable 23 per cent of its total budget into developing agroecology, Ndiob has undertaken a series of appropriate and adequate measures to sustainably manage its natural resources and to achieve food security, including: training 600 producers and strengthening their skills in good agricultural practices; achieving self-sufficiency in certified millet seeds (about 10 tonnes); planting 300 ha of millet in ecological agriculture (producing about 450 tonnes) to ensure food self-sufficiency to 300 families; generating 84 tonnes of peanut seeds, which resulted in each of the breeders gaining more than EUR 530 of income in just the2017 season; training 15 women group leaders on cereal processing techniques and the preparation of local, high quality cereal-based dishes; establishing an expanded public commission to ensure good land management, a farmers’ cooperative, a storage warehouse and a credit fund for financing agricultural and processing projects for young people and women; and much more.

UN Environment: TEEBAgriFood – The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for Agriculture and Food Evaluation Framework, 2018

The TEEBAgriFood is a path-breaking, globally applicable food systems evaluation framework, which for the first time presents all wider benefits and costs associated with all relevant dimensions (environmental, health, social, cultural) of the eco-agri-food value chain in one single report. By evaluating the significant external costs and benefits inherent in different food systems, and making these costs transparent, decision-makers on farms, and in governments, institutions and businesses can make better-informed decisions that take into account the impacts of the available choices. This  holistic approach of ‘true cost accounting’ allows the recognition, valuing and managing of the positive and negative externalities of all human behaviour and will lead to more agroecological and equitable food systems. The TEEBAgriFood Evaluation Framework will soon be applied at the country level across Africa and in Brazil, China, India and Mexico.

United States of America: Los Angeles’ Good Food Purchasing Policy (2012)

Adopted first by the city of Los Angeles city in 2012, the Good Food Purchasing Programme creates a transparent supply chain and helps institutions to measure and then make shifts in their food purchases. It is the first procurement model to support five food system values – local economies, environmental sustainability, valued workforce, animal welfare and nutrition – in equal measure. Within just six years, the Programme has achieved an impressive impact: since 2012, it has been mandatory for all city departments of Los Angeles and for the L.A. Unified School District (LAUSD), which together serve about 750,000 meals a day and have an annual budget of USD 185 million for food. For instance, it achieved that LAUSD has reduced its purchases of all industrially produced meat by 32 per cent, reducing its carbon and water footprint by 20 per cent and 20.5 per cent per meal respectively, that in just a few years  the environmentally sustainable purchases of four institutions (including LAUSD) increased by 3.3 per cent and now an additional USD 4.3 million per year goes to environmentally sustainable producers, and that the same four institutions now purchase an additional USD 4.4 million annually from smallholders. The Program has set off a nationwide movement to establish similar policies in localities small and large, and inspired the creation of the Center for Good Food Purchasing, an NGO which now owns and manages the program, as well as its expansion across the United States. By now 27 public institutions in 14 U.S. cities are enrolled, which collectively spend nearly USD 895 million on food each year.

Strengthening the child protection system in Ghana

Last week, the World Future Council was on a scoping mission to Ghana to introduce the model of one-stop-centers to stakeholders in Ghana. The aim is to build on the existing structures to strengthen the child protection system in Ghana. Together with the Department of Children we had good discussions with the National Child Protection Committee in Accra and the Northern Regional Child Protection Committee in Tamale. We met dedicated and engaged partners and look forward to work with them on a pilot in November this year.

one-stop-centers

The one-stop-centers provide essential services for survivors of abuse under one roof. During our international conference on child protection we hosted in Zanzibar last year, we introduced the model of one-stop-centers, which inspired Ghanaian policy makers attending the conference. The Zanzibar’s Children’s Act 2011, which won our Gold Future Policy Award in 2015, layed the foundation for the child protection system in Zanzibar.

Kehkashan Basu speaking on the UN High-Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament in New York

Our Youth Ambassador Kehkashan Basu is speaking at the UN High-Level meeting on Nuclear Disarmament in New York today. You can read her presentation here.

September Updates

How can we build Peace?

We asked our expert policy staff on the occasion of World Peace Day 2018

Building peace is a very complex endeavour: Social injustice, economic inequalities, climate change, lack of opportunities, resource scarcity, depletion of natural habitat, hunger and poverty, and violation of human rights can cause social unrest or even violent conflict. All these factors are interdependent and intertwined. Is building peace a futile mission? No, because proven solutions and successful approaches already exist. On this year’s UN World Peace Day, we asked our dedicated policy staff what can be done to achieve and sustain peace:

 

 

Interview on the Energy Transition in Germany

„We need a citizen-oriented energy supply“

The energy transition can only succeed if energy supply is democratised. We talked to Uli Ahlke, head of the district office for climate protection and sustainability in Steinfurt (North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany), about success factors of community energy.

Citizens contribute significantly to the energy transition. Including farmers, individuals own about 42% of all renewable energy installations in Germany[2]. Unfortunately though, the German federal government does not support community energy sufficiently. At this point, local governments can make a decisive contribution to promoting community energy. The German District of Steinfurt, near the Dutch border, is setting an exemplary path. Its 24 municipalities with about 445,000 inhabitants aim to be energy self-sufficient through renewable energies by 2050 – with the greatest possible participation of the local population. Already today more than 60% of the electricity stems from renewables. We talked to Uli Ahlke, head of the district office for climate protection and sustainability, about strategies and possibilities for local authorities to support community energy, about dealing with national obstacles, and about the future of the energy transition.

Community Energy

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Coalition for Action describes community energy as “the economic and operational participation and/or ownership by citizens or members of a defined community in a renewable energy project” – regardless of size and scope of the project.[1] Community energy is any combination of at least two of the following elements: Local stakeholders own more than half or all shares of a renewable energy project; voting control rests with a community-based organisation; and the majority of social and economic benefits are decentralised locally.

Engagement for community energy: Uli Ahlke is head of the district office for climate protection and sustainability in Steinfurt (North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany)

World Future Council: The district of Steinfurt aims to be energy self-sufficient through renewable energies by 2050. Supporting community energy is an integral part of your work. Why did you choose to support community energy to promote the expansion of renewables rather than focusing on large-scale investments?

Uli Ahlke: We have conducted several surveys in our region, and we know that the balance sheet energy self-sufficiency can only be accomplished once we operate in a regionally decentralised manner – and that it won’t work without the citizens. About 18 years ago, we experienced a very intensive expansion of wind energy with a lot of foreign investors in our region. At that time, we quickly reached acceptance limits.

We are convinced that we cannot achieve our ambitious goals without wind energy. That is why we asked ourselves what we need to do to maintain acceptance for a new expansion momentum. We needed to involve people in the planning process and to give the local community the opportunity to participate in local value creation. After all, the district of Steinfurt spends 1.5 billion euros a year on energy – for electricity, heat and mobility energy. Money we want to keep in the region.

How exactly can community energy be integrated into local climate action planning, and which participation mechanisms were particularly effective in Steinfurt?

What we do here is only possible because we have this team. We are 22 employees who take charge of the region’s sustainable development, of rural development, climate protection and education for sustainable development. Structurally, we consolidated the whole procedure last year and founded an association – the “energieland2050”. We communicate through traditional media, but are increasingly active in social media; we organise broad-scale participation proceedings; we place a strong focus on the regional advantages; and we have many amplifiers, especially on the part of the wind farmers.

As part of the wind energy expansion, we have set guidelines for all upcoming civic wind farms – in cooperation with the property owners, i.e. the farmers, with the farmers’ association, the municipal utilities and our 24 mayors. These guidelines not only guarantee the involvement of citizens, but also ensure that the first focal point for loans are local banks, and for energy marketing the municipal utilities. For the recruitment of financial resources through public participation we organised three events for one wind farm alone, attended by around 900 people. Two weeks later, we had 30 million euros, although we only needed 15.

In 2011, we set up a “Wind Energy Service Station”. There, we have a colleague, who deals with conflict management. She talks to the people and seeks solutions with them whenever there is a problem. We also launched a “Wind Energy Round Table”, where we regularly invite all stakeholders involved in wind energy to address conflicts openly and transparently.

Round table discussions for solving conflicts

But wind energy is just one piece of the puzzle. Our goal is to initiate climate action in the region, involving more and more people. Many people trust us; that we practice what we preach, that we do things well, and that we act in accordance with the Agenda 21[3]. But that did not come out of the blue – it emerged over the years, during which people got to know each other, and learned to trust each other. I also believe that sustainability and regionalism are closely interlinked because we give up anonymity and work with people we know.

I agree with you. How do you deal with national legal and regulatory obstacles to citizen-owned renewable energy installations at the local level, such as the 2017 Renewable Energies Act (EEG) Amendment[4]?

I believe that the energy transition can only succeed if there is – in Hermann Scheer’s words – the “democratisation of energy supply”. The 2017 EEG Amendment, however, weakened the community energy movement. The reason for this weakening is presumably an energy policy that is geared towards corporations. But we need a policy that is citizen-oriented. The corporation-oriented policy actually prevents a successful energy transition. I am following Berlin’s energy policy with concern. If we do not change course very quickly, we will certainly miss the 2-degree target.

The approach we chose in Steinfurt is characterised by our energetic imperative “regional – decentralised – CO2-neutral”. This is supported and accompanied by the “energieland2050 network of entrepreneurs”. Only responsible companies from the region are involved in this network.

A study by the Leuphana University of Lüneburg has shown that the main obstacle to initiate community energy projects are the availability of equity capital and access to vacant space for renewable energy installations like wind turbines. How can local authorities help in these areas?

At the beginning, we conducted a study to identify our potentials for the wind energy expansion. We must not forget that our region is not particularly suitable for wind energy; we are not a coastal region and are partially suburbanised. On the basis of the potential study, we developed the guidelines for civic wind energy together with the farmers’ association, the mayors and many other stakeholders. This accelerated the expansion of wind energy. We implemented the wind energy expansion with regional stakeholders and did not rely on any external project planner or consultant. The expansion was also largely financed from the region – from its citizens, and its local banks. This is a relatively unique approach in Germany.

Construction of the bioenergy park Saerbeck

When we started to address wind energy with some actors in 2010 and even approached it strategically, people were very sceptical. And today I look back very relaxed and say: It worked!

I am glad to hear that. Let us now come to the last question. You have been working with passion for many years in this area. Which advice can you give to people in local governments not to lose patience and confidence in their work for renewables and citizen participation?

What you need is perseverance, patience and the faculty of abstraction. Human beings are often too impatient and cannot imagine the world changing but it is changing faster than ever. I think that in order to win people it is not enough to have good arguments, but it is important to draw a picture, a future scenario, of where you want to go and how positive the future can look like. At the end of my speeches, I often show a picture of the district of Steinfurt, which says: “District of Steinfurt – 24 health resorts”. If the energy transition succeeds, we will breathe clean air and it will be quieter. So if it succeeds, and I suppose that it does succeed at least partially, then life becomes more enjoyable and we get out of the air pollution dilemma which we are in now.

Interview conducted by Nele Kress.

References

[1] IRENA Coalition for Action (2018). Community Energy. Broadening the Ownership of Renewables. https://bit.ly/2MCevv9 (28.08.2018).

[2] Agentur für Erneuerbare Energien (2018). Bürgerenergie bleibt Schlüssel für erfolgreiche Energiewende. https://bit.ly/2nztV4q (28.08.2018).

[3] Agenda 21 is a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organisations of the United Nations system, governments, and major groups in every area in which human beings impact on the environment. It was adopted by 172 governments at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

[4] The Renewable Energies Act (EEG), which came into force for the first time in 2000, is the central control instrument for the expansion of renewable energies in the field of electricity in Germany. The fundamental changes of the last major amendment to the EEG in 2017 relate to compulsory direct marketing and a fundamental system change from the feed-in tariff model to the tendering procedure. This model has been criticized for failing to meet the climate protection goals of the Paris Agreement and for discriminating against community energy projects.

Press Release: Kehkashan Basu to speak at UN High Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament

18 year old environmental activist Kehkashan Basu selected to speak at September 26 United Nations High Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament

She calls for disarmament for sustainable development

Hamburg/New York, 12 September 2018  18 year old environmental activist and youth leader Kehkashan Basu was selected by the President of the UN General Assembly to address the September 26 United Nations High Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament as one of the two representatives of global civil society. She is Youth Ambassador of the World Future Council and was last week named as one of Canada’s Top 25 Women of Influence for 2018. Ms Basu says: ‘The United Nations and its member countries should focus more on disarmament for sustainable development’

Kehkashan Basu
Kehkashan, Youth Ambassador of the World Future Council, is the founder of the GREEN HOPE FOUNDATION, which seeks to provide a networking platform to children and youth, to take action for a more sustainable future.
Picture (c) Kehkashan Basu

 

 

 

The nuclear arms race, in particular, should be halted and the $100 billion global nuclear weapons budget be redirected towards ending poverty, reversing climate change, protecting the oceans, building a sustainable economy and providing basic education and health care for all of humanity,’ says Ms Basu who was also the winner of the 2016 International Children’s Peace Prize. ‘Instead, the nuclear armed States are squandering resources and keeping their nuclear weapons poised to strike. One mistake would cause a humanitarian disaster, robbing children and youth of their health and future, and maybe even ending civilization as we know it.’

The High Level Meeting on September 26 will involve Presidents, Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers and UN ambassadors presenting either their hopes and aspirations for nuclear disarmament, or their excuses for keeping the nuclear arms race going. It falls on the anniversary of the incident in 1983 when a nuclear war was almost fought by accident.
On that day, an incoming United States ballistic missile attack against Moscow was ‘detected’ by Soviet satellites relaying information to the nuclear early warning center Serpukhov-15. With only 15 minutes between detection and impact, standard procedure was to confirm the incoming attack to the President of the Soviet Union (at the time it was Yuri Andropov) who would initiate an immediate ‘retaliatory’ attack before Moscow was hit.

Stanislav Petrov, duty officer at Serpukhov-15, defied protocol and reported a ‘false alarm’. His action, which is chronicled in the award winning movie The Man Who Saved the World, prevented a potential nuclear calamity the like of which we have never experienced and hope never to see.

‘The lesson of the 1983 incident, and the 15-20 other times we have nearly had a nuclear exchange, is that nuclear deterrence could fail – and that failure would mean game over,’ says Jakob von Uexkull, Founder of the World Future Council. ‘As such, the nuclear armed States have to replace nuclear deterrence with better ways to achieve security, just as the overwhelming majority of other countries have already done.’

In 2013 the UN General Assembly decided to hold a series of annual High Level Meetings every year on September 26 at which governments could express their views and proposals, followed by a UN High Level Conference in May 2018 to take action on effective measures for nuclear disarmament. However, the High Level Conference in May was postponed and now might be cancelled altogether.

‘High Level Conferences and Summits on global issues are vital to build the public attention, media coverage and political traction to make progress,’ says Alyn Ware, Chair of the World Future Council Disarmament Commission.  ‘The United Nations must not cave in to the pressure from the nuclear armed States to drop the High Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament.’

‘Regardless of what the governments do at the UN, civil society will step up its action for nuclear disarmament,’ says Ms Basu. ‘The most powerful lobby for the nuclear arms race is the nuclear weapons industry. From Oct 24-30, in locations around New York, we will count out the $1 trillion nuclear weapons budget for the next 10 years and demonstrate how this money can be reallocated from the nuclear weapons industry into the Sustainable Development Goals and other areas of human and environmental need. This includes direct cuts to nuclear weapons budgets, and divestment from the industry, and is part of the global campaign Move the Nuclear Weapons Money.’

Jakob von Uexkull (left)
Founder of the World Future Council (2007) and the Right Livelihood Award (1980), often referred to as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’.

Alyn Ware (right)
Chair of the World Future Council Disarmament Commission, Founder and global coordinator of the network Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND)

Annual Report 2017

Excerpt

The world we live in is changing fast, and, it seems, not necessarily for the good. Every day we are confronted with negative news and shocking headlines. But this problem-orientated approach towards today’s challenges is paralysing and unproductive. Because of that, it is important to talk about solutions.

Let’s take a tour through the diverse and numerous solutions we identified and promoted during 2017! This Annual Report looks back at our impact in 2017 and shows, yet again, our supporters’ strong commitment: collectively we can be proud of what we achieved in climate protection, advancing 100% Renewable Energy, combating land degradation, protecting children from violence, fostering a sustainable economy, and promoting peace and disarmament.