Inspiring event on Solutions for Scaling up Agroecology held at Heliopolis University

About 200 students, representatives of policymaking, academia, business and civil society participated in the event “Solutions for Scaling up Agroecology”, which was co-organized by the World Future Council and Heliopolis University on 12th September 2019 in Cairo, Egypt.

SEKEM musicians and choir open jointly this exciting event.

This stimulating event showcasing impactful solutions that scale up agroecology, was opened by the representatives of the two hosting organizations: On the one hand Helmy Abouleish, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Heliopolis University and on the other Prof. Dr. Franz-Theo Gottwald, CEO, Schweisfurth Foundation. Uwe Gehlen, First Counsellor, Head of German Development Cooperation in Egypt and Dr. Shireen Assem, Vice President of the Center of Agriculture Research, representing Egypt’s Minister of Agriculture H.E. Prof. Ezzaldin Abusteit both delivered insightful opening speeches, whilst Dr. Jean Marc Faurès, Regional Programme Leader, FAO Regional Office for the Near East and North Africa, shared a keynote address on the importance of agroecology as a key pathway to transition to sustainable food and agriculture systems and its critical role in tackling malnutrition, social injustice, land degradation, water scarcity, climate change and the loss of biodiversity.

Welcome address by Helmy Abouleish, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Heliopolis University, and CEO of Sekem Group, Egypt.

Welcome address by Prof. Dr. Franz-Theo Gottwald, Chair of the Supervisory Board of the World Future Council and CEO, Schweisfurth Foundation, Germany

Among the presented solutions were, on the one hand, selected winning policies of the Future Policy Award 2018, such as our Gold Award winner from India: the first “100% organic state” Sikkim, which certified all of its farmland as organic and which proved to be truly transformational; our Silver Award winner from Ecuador: Quito’s Participatory Urban Agriculture Programme, which empowers vulnerable groups to produce annually 960,000 kg of healthy food for themselves and others; as well as our Honourable Mention from Senegal: Ndiob’s Agriculture Development Programme, which became the first town in the country to embark on an agroecological transition.

Alexandra Wandel, Executive Director of the World Future Council presents the Future Policy Award 2018.

Councillor Thais Corral presenting Future Policy Silver Award winner from Ecuador: Quito’s Participatory Urban Agriculture Programme.

Councillor Dipal Barua presenting Future Policy Gold Award winner from India: the first “100% organic state” Sikkim .

On the other hand the event highlighted recipients of the Outstanding Practices in Agroecology 2019 recognition and Right Livelihood Awardees. Among them the low-cost and simple Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) technique, which was developed by Tony Rinaudo, an Australian agronomist, and which spread in Niger to 5,000,000 hectares, reviving more than 200 million trees. Another Outstanding Practice in Agroecology 2019 presented was the SEKEM Initiative in Egypt, which has by now reclaimed close to 700 hectares of desert land using biodynamic agriculture methods and whose products respect highest possible ethical, ecological and social standards. Moreover, Dr. Auma Obama, Founder of the Sauti Kuu Foundation, and the Nepalese community activist Shrikrishna Upadhyay, who founded SAPPROS and who received the Right Livelihood Award for his work, shared insights on their work on agroecology in Kenya and Nepal. Last but not least, Prof. Dr. Hassan Abou Bakr, Professor of Biological Control, Faculty of Organic Agriculture at Heliopolis University, explained how Egypt could achieve 100% Organic Agriculture.

Valerie von Koerber, the Co-Founder of the Startup Technology for Agroecology in the Global South (TAGS), presents the Outstanding Practices in Agroecology 2019 recognition

Prof. Dr. Hassan Abou Bakr, Professor of Biological Control, Faculty of Organic Agriculture at Heliopolis University, presenting a roadmap towards 100% Organic Agriculture in Egypt.

Among the distinguished speakers were prominent members of the World Future Council, such as Dr. Hans Rudolf Herren, Founder of the Biovision Foundation, Dipal Barua, Founder of the Bright Green Energy Foundation, Prof. Dr. Herbert Girardet, Consultant to UNEP and UN-Habitat, Thais Corral, Founder of Sinal do Vale, and Alexandra Wandel, Executive Director of the World Future Council. Furthermore representatives of supporting organizations intervened, including Poppe Braam, the Founder of DO-IT Dutch Organic International Trade from the Netherlands, and Valerie von Koerber, the Co-Founder of the Startup Technology for Agroecology in the Global South (TAGS) from Germany. Last but not least, prominent Egyptian academics contributed to the event with their expertise, including Prof. Dr. Atef Abd El-Aziz Hassan Ragab, Director of The Central Lab of Organic Agriculture, Agricultural Research Center.

From left to right: Helmy Abouleish, World Future Councillor and CEO of SEKEM Initiative, Dr. Hans Herren, World Future Councillor and Founder of Biovision Foundation, Dr. Auma Obama, World Future Councillor and Founder of Sauti Kuu Foundation, Valerie von Koerber, Co-Founder of TAGS, Prof. Dr. Atef Abd El-Aziz Hassan Ragab, Director of The Central Lab of Organic Agriculture, Prof. Dr. Hassan Abou Bakr, Professor of Biological Control at Heliopolis University, Tony Rinaudo, Right Livelihood Award Recipient 2018, Shrikrishna Upadhyay, Founder of SAPPROS and Right Livelihood Award Recipient, Thais Corral, World Future Councillor and Founder of Sinal do Vale, and Poppe Braam, Founder of DO-IT.

One of the other highlights of the event was certainly also the performance “The Transformative Power of Earth: Celebrating Agroecology – A special performance honouring the Future Policy Award for Agroecology and Sekem”. Co-developed by Dr. Rama Mani, World Future Councillor and Founder of Theatre of Transformation Academy, and Martina Dinkel, Arts Coordinator of Movement & Performing Arts at the Heliopolis University, this inspiring show focused on the elements of water, earth, fire and air, combining music, poetry and dance, and involved all our senses. It was wonderfully offered by the Sekem Musicians and Councillors of World Future Council – including Jan Mc Alpine, former Director of the UN Forum on Forest, Anna Oposa, Chief Mermaid at Save Philippine Seas, and Prof Herbert Girardet – as well as staff of hosting organizations.

Councillor Anna Oposa, Chief Mermaid at Save Philippine Seas, reading a poem on the element of water, with performance by Nana Woo, Social Eurythmy practitioner at Sekem.

Councillor Jan Mc Alpine, former Director of the UN Forum on Forest, sharing a poem on the element of Earth, with music, performance and students sharing earth from Sekem.

The event made clear that, if executed at scale, agroecology is creating immediate and real impacts on both our life and the life of future generations. It urged those present to go 100% for agroecology and organic agriculture, in order to secure drinking water and food for all, ensuring a sustainable future. By showcasing practical, effective and low cost solutions, it inspired decision-makers and other participants to step up their action to create enabling environments for agroecology and organic agriculture.

Hosted by Heliopolis University and the World Future Council, with the support of DO-IT – Dutch Organic International Trade, Robert Bosch GmbH Startup Technology for Agroecology in the Global South (TAGS) and Schweisfurth Foundation, the memorable event was held one day before the World Future Forum 2019 kicked off at SEKEM, which annually gathers about 40 Councillors, Honorary Councillors, Advisors, Ambassadors, staff and supporters of the World Future Council and is hence an excellent networking opportunity for changemakers from across the world.

Read our press release here.