Press release

Solutions for scaling up agroecology exist, report renowned global experts at Heliopolis University in Cairo

Cairo, September 12th, 2019: The World Future Council and Heliopolis University convene today an inspiring event showcasing impactful solutions that scale up agroecology. Among the distinguished speakers are Prof. Dr. Mohamed Soliman, Egypt’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture; Helmy Abouleish, CEO of the SEKEM Initiative; Dr. Jean Marc Faurès, Regional Programme Leader, FAO Regional Office for the Near East and North Africa; Prof. Dr. Franz-Theo Gottwald, CEO, Schweisfurth Foundation; Uwe Gehlen, First Counsellor, Head of German Development Cooperation; prominent members of the World Future Council, such as Dr. Hans Rudolf Herren, Founder of the Biovision Foundation, Dr. Auma Obama, Founder of the Sauti Kuu Foundation, and Thais Corrall, Co-founder, Women’s Environment and Development Organization; as well as renowned agroecology experts, such as the Australian agronomist Tony Rinaudo and the Nepalese community activist Shrikrishna Upadhyay, who both received the Right Livelihood Award for their work.

At the event renowned award-winning speakers, decision makers and international experts will highlight exemplary solutions for scaling up agroecology from Africa and beyond. These solutions enhance fertile landscapes and improve farmers’ incomes. They include global champions, such as winners of the UN-backed Future Policy Award 2018 from India, Ecuador and Senegal. Among them the Indian state of Sikkim that set an ambitious vision and achieved it: It is the first state in the world to become fully organic, all of its farmland is certified organic and the transition has benefitted more than 66,000 farming families, reaching far beyond organic farming production and proving to be truly transformational. For its achievements it received the Future Policy Gold Award in 2018 from FAO, World Future Council and IFOAM – Organics international.

In addition, the event will highlight recipients of the “Outstanding Practices in Agroecology 2019” recognition. Recognized practices empower small-scale food producers, nurture sustainable food systems and promote resilient agricultural practices that help maintain ecosystems and strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change. Among the recipients of this recognition is the Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) technique, which was developed in Niger by Tony Rinaudo, an Australian agronomist that was awarded with the Right Livelihood Award (Alternative Nobel Prize) in 2018. The SEKEM Initiative in Egypt also received this recognition as a leading social business worldwide. It reclaimed hundreds of hectares of desert land using biodynamic agriculture methods and its products respect highest possible ethical, ecological and social standards. Helmy Abouleish, Sekem’s CEO, will present their experience.

Agroecology is a key pathway to transition to sustainable food and agriculture systems and plays a critical role in tackling malnutrition, social injustice, land degradation, water scarcity, climate change and the loss of biodiversity. If executed at scale, agroecology is creating immediate and real impacts on both our life and the life of future generations. Globally, scientists and experts urge 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, this event hopes to inspire decision-makers to step up political action to create enabling environments for agroecology and organic agriculture.

Hosted by Heliopolis University and the World Future Council, and accompanied by SEKEM Musicians, the public event “Solutions for Scaling up Agroecology” is held today, Thursday 12th September 2019, 10:30 – 16:00 at Heliopolis University in Cairo, Egypt, 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. Supporter representatives at the event include the CEO of Schweisfurth Foundation from Germany, the Founder of DO-IT Dutch Organic International Trade from the Netherlands and the Co-Founder of the Robert Bosch GmbH Startup Technology for Agroecology in the Global South (TAGS) from Germany.

“The transition to sustainable food and agriculture systems is critical to enhance soil fertility, increase biodiversity, strengthen climate resilience and ensure a decent living for farming families. These exemplary solutions show that such a transition is possible. The Heliopolis University is proud to showcase, along with the World Future Council, such leadership. Policymakers and practitioners across the globe should follow these example and step up similar exemplary political action,” says Helmy Abouleish, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Heliopolis University.

“By scaling up agroecology, it is possible to tackle malnutrition, social injustice, climate change, and loss of biodiversity. Through effective, holistic policymaking and exemplary practices, we can transform our food and agriculture systems so that they respect people and the planet. Sikkim, Ecuador, Senegal, the SEKEM Initiative and Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration prove that it is feasible – and how. They are just few of the solutions we highlighted with the Future Policy Award 2018 and as Outstanding Practices in Agroecology 2019 and they are part of a growing movement pursuing organic farming and agroecology as an effective pathway for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Achieving triple impact – social, economic and ecological sustainability – is no longer a pipe dream but can become reality,“ says Alexandra Wandel, Executive Director of the World Future Council.

Visit our website to learn more about the event and its programme: https://www.worldfuturecouncil.org/solutions-for-scaling-up-agroecology/

More information:
The Future Policy Award
The Future Policy Award is the first and only award that celebrates policies for the benefit of present and future generations on an international level. The Award is designed to alert policymakers and the public to the importance of best practice in lawmaking and highlight outstanding examples of regulatory vision. Celebrating visionary policies, it raises public awareness, encourages rapid learning and speeds up policy action towards just, sustainable and peaceful societies. In partnership with FAO and IFOAM – Organics International, the 2018 Future Policy Award highlighted 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 the Future Policy Award 2018 is available at: https://www.worldfuturecouncil.org/2018-agroecology

At the event the following winning policies awarded with the 2018 Future Policy Award will be highlighted:

  • Gold Award: Sikkim’s State Policy on Organic Farming (2004) and Sikkim Organic Mission (2010), India
Sikkim is the first 100% organic state in the world. All of its farmland is certified organic. 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. At the same time, Sikkim’s approach reaches beyond organic production and has proved 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 Sikkim tourism sector, for instance, benefited greatly from the new organic image: between 2014 and 2017 the number of tourists increased by over 50 per cent.
  • Silver Award: Quito’s Participatory Urban Agriculture Programme AGRUPAR (2002), Ecuador: 
AGRUPAR was developed on the basis of a broad, largely women-led community consultation. It explicitly recognizes the role of urban agriculture for wider social, ecological and economic development and works along the entire food chain. Training programmes help support community, family and school gardens. 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. Its participants produce now more than 870,000 kg of food products per year for the city and more than 6,600 bio-fairs have been organized so far. The programme is part of Quito’s mission to become an entrepreneurial, sustainable and innovative city.
  • Honourable Mention: Ndiob’s Vision to Become a Green and Resilient Municipality (2014) and Agriculture Development Programme (2017), Senegal

Ndiob became the first city in Senegal to embark on an agroecological transition. Designed in a large community consultation, citizens from Ndiob formulated their Agriculture Development Programme, which includes five priorities: food security, management of natural resources, soil fertility, livestock breeding and farming, and agriculture. As a result, the city now invests a notable 23 per cent of its total budget to achieve an agroecological transition and undertakes a remarkable series of appropriate and adequate measures to sustainably manage its natural resources and to achieve food security.

Outstanding Practices in Agroecology 2019
The recognition “Outstanding Practices in Agroecology 2019” highlighted practices that empower small-scale food producers, nurture sustainable food production systems and promote resilient agricultural practices that help maintain ecosystems and strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change. Organized by the World Future Council in collaboration with the Start up Technology for Agroecology in the Global South (TAGS), the recognition raised global awareness for these exemplary practices and speed up action towards just, sustainable and peaceful societies. In 2019, Outstanding Practices in Agroecology were prominently presented on the occasion of International Green Week and the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture in Berlin, Germany. More information about the Outstanding Practices in Agroecology 2019 is available at: https://www.worldfuturecouncil.org/p/opa-2019/ 

At the event the following Outstanding Practices in Agroecology 2019 will be highlighted:

  • Egypt’s leading social business, the SEKEM Initiative: Since 1977, Egypt’s SEKEM Initiative works to realize its vision of sustainable human development, by using biodynamic agricultural methods to revitalize desert land and develop agricultural business, and by enabling knowledge transfer, education and conscious consumption. Today SEKEM has reclaimed about 684 hectares of desert land, of which 100% is operated by biodynamic agriculture methods. 477 farmers have been trained in these methods. More than 70% of SEKEM’s reclaimed land produces food and raw materials for the local market and its products respect highest possible ethical, ecological and social standards. 10% of its profits go back to the community. SEKEM also contributed to the reduction of artificial pesticide use in Egypt’s cotton industry by 90%, whilst boosting yields by 30%. For its impressive achievements, the SEKEM Initiative was recognized as Outstanding Practice in Agroecology 2019.
  • FMNR, the simple farmer-managed technique that regenerates living tree stumps: Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) was first developed in Niger with farmers by the NGO World Vision in 1983. It is a low-cost, scalable, quick and simple farmer-managed technique that regenerates living tree stumps or tree seeds in the soil, enabling large-scale regeneration of apparently tree-less landscapes through slight adjustments in behaviour and land management practices. In Niger, FMNR spread to 5,000,000 hectares, reviving more than 200 million trees. As a result, farmers in Niger produce an additional 500,000 tons of cereal per year, leading to enhanced food security for about 2.5 million people. As well, the gross income in the Maradi Region has grown by USD 17-21 million (USD 1,000 / household each year). The practice inspired a farmer-led movement re-greening land in the Sahel region and offers rapid results without incurring any additional costs for tools and inputs. FMNR is now implemented in at least 24 countries. For its inspiring achievements, the SEKEM Initiative was recognized as Outstanding Practice in Agroecology 2019.

MEDIA CONTACTS

Alexandra Wandel
Executive Director
World Future Council
Email: alexandra.wandel@worldfuturecouncil.org
Cell.: +49 (0) 172 748 3953

Heliopolis University
Email: hu@hu.edu.eg
Cell.: 0020 216418

About the Organizers

The World Future Council
The World Future Council (WFC) works to pass on a healthy planet and fair societies to our children and grandchildren. To achieve this, we focus on identifying and spreading effective, future-just policy solutions and promote their implementation worldwide. Jakob von Uexkull, the Founder of the Alternative Nobel Prize, launched the World Future Council in 2007. We are an independent, non-profit organisation under German law and finance our activities from donations. www.worldfuturecouncil.org

The Heliopolis University
Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development is a part of SEKEM Initiative that was founded in 1977 in order to strengthen Sustainable Development in Egypt by a holistic concept that integrates ecology, economy and society. SEKEM has been widely praised as “Egyptian organic pioneer” and has received the 2003 Right Livelihood Award (“Alternative Nobel Prize”) as a „Business Model for the 21th Century”. In 2012 Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development has been opened under the umbrella of SEKEM Initiative in order to provide holistic higher education and promote young social entrepreneurs for a sustainable future. www.hu.edu.eg

About the World Future Council
The World Future Council (WFC) works to pass on a healthy planet and fair societies to our children and grandchildren. To achieve this, we focus on identifying and spreading effective, future-just policy solutions and promote their implementation worldwide. Jakob von Uexkull, the Founder of the Alternative Nobel Prize, launched the World Future Council in 2007. We are an independent, non-profit organization under German law and finance our activities from donations. For information visit www.worldfuturecouncil.org