First stakeholders’ workshop on “Scaling up Agroecology in the Himalayas”
The urgent need to transform our food systems is now widely acknowledged. Climate change, hunger, malnutrition, biodiversity loss and human rights violations are just a few of the challenges that are strongly connected to the way we produce, trade, and consume our food. Agroecology has been globally identified as a key transition pathway that can more holistically address the multifaceted crises we face.
To promote this transition pathway and the food systems approach, IFOAM – Organics International and the World Future Council organized a virtual workshop on “Scaling up agroecology in the Himalayas”. The interactive workshop brought together stakeholders from Bhutan, India and Nepal to discuss the fundamental steps needed to achieve sustainable food systems through agroecology in the Himalayas. Participants exchanged on the current situation of food systems and agroecology in the Himalayas, reflected on the main challenges and opportunities for positive change, explored available policy solutions that support sustainable and healthy agri-food systems, and discussed their potential improvements as well as ideas about additional policy initiatives.
Organizers and supporters
The workshop was organized by the World Future Council and IFOAM-Organics International and was supported by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
The lively and engaging two-day workshop took place online on March 14-15, 2023, bringing together 60-70 stakeholders from Bhutan, India and Nepal. Attendees included policymakers, parliamentarians, academia, civil society organizations, private sector representatives and donors.
The first day was dedicated to discussing the main challenges and opportunities of scaling up agroecology in Bhutan, India and Nepal. Sessions were structured around the food systems approach and included an overarching panel discussion and four breakout groups. The breakout sessions covered a range of topics, including resilient, inclusive, and diverse food production systems, sustainability along all food value chains, sustainable and healthy diets, as well as coordination and integration for more policy coherence and consistency.
On the second day, participants built on the discussions from day one and focused on policy dimensions of sustainable food systems, again through panel discussion and breakout groups. They identified and discussed policy solutions that support and hinder sustainable and healthy agri-food systems, discussed policy improvements, exchanged on existing policy gaps and reflected on how policy coherence and consistency could be improved.
Why was this event held? What was the aim? Over the last 10 years, Bhutanese, Indian and Nepalese policymakers have increasingly recognized the need for transition towards sustainable agricultural systems to preserve their natural resources and improve livelihoods for their rural populations. Political commitment has been implemented with varying degrees of intensity, including policies and programs with specific budget earmarks for measures supporting organic farming and agroecology. Recently also other parts of food systems, such as value chains and markets, have received more attention from policymakers. To build on this momentum and to explore how to better scale up agroecological food systems, we organized this two-day interactive stakeholder workshop. The event brought together food system stakeholders from diverse backgrounds, who share a common understanding of the need for change. We created a platform, through which we can collaborate and find innovative solutions to accelerate the transition towards more sustainable food systems based on agroecology. The workshop is part of the project “Scaling up Agroecology in the Himalayas”, which aims to draft a common roadmap and which builds on the digital event “Scaling up Agroecology in the Himalayas Together” held in April 2021 (More information at: https://www.ifoam.bio/news/high-level-policy-experts-discussed-current-situation) as well as on the study “The Mainstreaming of Organic Agriculture And Agroecology in the Himalaya Region” (Available at: https://old.worldfuturecouncil.org/the-mainstreaming-of-organic-agriculture-and-agroecology/). Will there be more such events to come in the future? This workshop is just the first in a series of stakeholder events that will conclude by the end of 2023 with a common roadmap. By scaling up agroecology in the Himalayas, we can create a blueprint for sustainable food systems that can be replicated in other regions around the world. Moreover, this is a crucial step towards ensuring our common future on this planet, acting upon the fact that the health of our ecosystems and the well-being of all living beings are intimately interconnected.
Why was this event held? What was the aim?
Over the last 10 years, Bhutanese, Indian and Nepalese policymakers have increasingly recognized the need for transition towards sustainable agricultural systems to preserve their natural resources and improve livelihoods for their rural populations. Political commitment has been implemented with varying degrees of intensity, including policies and programs with specific budget earmarks for measures supporting organic farming and agroecology. Recently also other parts of food systems, such as value chains and markets, have received more attention from policymakers.
To build on this momentum and to explore how to better scale up agroecological food systems, we organized this two-day interactive stakeholder workshop. The event brought together food system stakeholders from diverse backgrounds, who share a common understanding of the need for change. We created a platform, through which we can collaborate and find innovative solutions to accelerate the transition towards more sustainable food systems based on agroecology.
The workshop is part of the project “Scaling up Agroecology in the Himalayas”, which aims to draft a common roadmap and which builds on the digital event “Scaling up Agroecology in the Himalayas Together” held in April 2021 (More information at: https://www.ifoam.bio/news/high-level-policy-experts-discussed-current-situation) as well as on the study “The Mainstreaming of Organic Agriculture And Agroecology in the Himalaya Region” (Available at: https://old.worldfuturecouncil.org/the-mainstreaming-of-organic-agriculture-and-agroecology/).
Will there be more such events to come in the future?
This workshop is just the first in a series of stakeholder events that will conclude by the end of 2023 with a common roadmap. By scaling up agroecology in the Himalayas, we can create a blueprint for sustainable food systems that can be replicated in other regions around the world. Moreover, this is a crucial step towards ensuring our common future on this planet, acting upon the fact that the health of our ecosystems and the well-being of all living beings are intimately interconnected.
Welcome to the V. World Organic Forum
How can the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the UN (SDGs) be successfully implemented in rural areas through a bottom-up movement? What building blocks do the SDGs provide for regional planning and how do we measure this? What are the opportunities and added values of organic agriculture for implementing the SDGs in regions around the world? How does the German government’s international development cooperation take up the practical localization of the 2030 Agenda?
What potential do communities of strong women, regenerative agrarian culture and new approaches to climate-friendly agriculture offer for anchoring the SDGs in everyday life on the ground?
At the V. World Organic Forum we want to discuss and work on these and many other questions together with highly renowned experts and protagonists of change from global civil society, science and politics as well as farmers from regions around the world and all interested people. We will learn about best practices, develop new approaches and inspire each other to bring the UN 2030 Agenda to the ground!
This year’s conference will again take place in a face-to-face format at Schloss Kirchberg (Kirchberg Castle) from June 27 to 30, 2022. The forum is an impulse-giving place for building a global network of SDG regions, in the North as well as in the South, in which the 17 Sustainable Development Goals are implemented and filled with life!
The conference is organised by Stiftung Haus der Bauern – Akademie Schloss Kirchberg and supported by the World Future Council.
Under the link you can find more information about the conference and register for participation.
We proudly joined the PANORAMA – Solutions for a Healthy Planet initiative by UNEP, UNDP, GIZ, IFOAM – Organics International, IUCN and Rare, as new collaborator.
On the eve of the biggest global “Fridays for Future” youth strike for climate, the World Future Council offers its strong support to the dedicated young people holding leaders accountable for their climate commitments. If we are to meet the 1.5°C target of the Paris agreement bold action needs to happen now.
100% Organic Sikkim, World Future Councillor Vandana Shiva and Director Alexandra Wandel in the German Parliament with Former Minister for Food and Agriculture Renate Künast
On Thursday 29th November, Berlin provided a solace of winter sun after a week of heavy-hanging weather to welcome World Future Councillor and world-renowned environmental activist, Prof. Dr. Vandana Shiva, and the Director of the World Future Council, Alexandra Wandel in the capital’s Bundestag Complex. They were invited by Member of Parliament, Renate Künast, former Minister for Food and Agriculture to discuss the agro-political situation in India, the world’s first 100%-organic state and Gold-winner of the Future Policy Award 2018, Sikkim, as well as the road-map to sustainable global agriculture.
“Sikkim shows that we can turn this around and walk the agro-ecological path.”
In a simple yet elegant conference room, the Honourable Künast welcomed her guests and 30 audience members from the German Parliament, European environmental institutes and the general public, and opened the discussion. The conversation quickly turned to agriculture in India. As a country whose agricultural face was profoundly transformed under the Green Revolution of the mid-20th Century, India is a notable example of the extreme conflicts and contrasts in the current global food system. Councillor Shiva described the horrors incurred by input-intensive agriculture in the country, which she has repeatedly encountered across four decades of environmental activism. An ongoing suicide-epidemic of hundreds of thousands of debt-ridden farmers, a ‘cancer train’, from the Punjab the Rajasthan, and a youth driven from agriculture and into drug abuse were some of the images she invoked. But the old techniques based on an old reductionist “lego-logic” have been recognised and, by some, reversed in the most radical and inspiring ways.
“A new knowledge of an old knowledge will be the future of humankind.”
Over the past 45 years, Sikkim state in the Himalaya Region of India has made the transition to 100%-organic agriculture. Model farms, farmer field schools and a total ban on non-organic food-products have been instrumental in training over 65,000 farmers across 75,000 hectares into sustainable, fully-organic methods. World Future Council Director Wandel described how this unprecedented and entirely-successful transformation has earned the region countless benefits for its farmers and the health and well-being of the local people, as well as a 50% boom in tourism and recognition on the global stage. It is for this tireless work in organic agriculture that Sikkim was awarded the Gold Future Policy Award 2018 at the ceremony in front of 170 heads of state in Rome. Whilst 51 other nominations to the post were extensively researched and other policies from Denmark, Ecuador and Brazil received a Silver recognition, Sikkim’s efforts proved by far by the most exemplary.
“A truly visionary and holistic approach to agriculture.”
As part of her work with the Parliamentary Group on India, Hon. Künast recently had the opportunity to visit Sikkim experience their ground-breaking (and ground-making) work first-hand. She said she was wholly impressed by how the state uses public money to provide possibilities and livelihood dignity for its citizens in organic agriculture. Their valuing of traditional knowledge fuses with the goodness of the people in an atmosphere of respect for one another and the Earth.
“Sikkim is the light. The struggle must continue.”
After all speakers had passionately shared their experiences and knowledge, the floor was opened up for questions from the audience. The opportunities and risks of digitalisation of agriculture came first, and Councillor Shiva was quick to insist on the stark difference between the right to technology and free internet, versus the forced digitalisation of agriculture. We must remain wary of the dangers of commodification of agricultural data for use by big companies. “Defining the commons in this new context,” said Prof. Dr. Shiva, “is extremely important.”
A second audience member asked how Sikkim was perceived at national level – is this the dawn of an organic India? There certainly exist other positive examples, for example, efforts in the Northern state of Ladakh to become organic. However, at national level, major obstacles remain. Vital here is the ongoing commitment to a sustainable vision by all spheres of society.
“We need a real debate across all of our societies or the future is a dead-end. Only food democracy will feed us in 2050.”
The Director of the World Future Council Alexandra Wandel mentioned that unfortunately not a single German law was nominated for the Future Policy Award on Scaling Up Agroecology and that parliamentarians were invited to have a look at the awarded policies, including the organic policy of Sikkim and also the silver award from neighbouring country Denmark which received the Future Policy Silver Award and has the highest share of organic products in the world.
The event in the German Parliament came a day after the World Future Council and Councillor Shiva were invited to celebrate Bread for the World’s (Brot für die Welt) 60th anniversary in the German Theatre, and proceeded two exciting events at the historic Babylon Cinema in Berlin’s Mitte district. The first – “Vision for Agriculture 2050”   – was a debate between Councillor Shiva, Norbert Lemken, Director Agricultural Policy at Bayer and Prof. Dr. Sonoko Dorothea Bellingrath-Kimura of the Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF). As the audience outed their respective support and outrage, the debate raged over the science behind chemical inputs, the capacity to feed the world and the morality behind this monumental task. After a short break where audience members could inform themselves with Councillor Shiva’s literature and speak with Liam Innis about the World Future Council and the Future Policy Award, the night continued with the screening of “SEED: The Untold Story” . The film, wherein Councillor Shiva is a protagonist follows the rich and treasured history of Earth’s 12,000 year-old food legacy, which continues to be threatened to extinction by – and fight back against – an all-encompassing agro-industry.
“I think it’s time to bring care, sharing, love, the commons and our brains back into the picture of agriculture.”
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, the world best agroecology policies, 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 170 Heads of State, Ministers, Permanent Representatives and other eminent guests, including FAO Deputy Director-General Ms Maria-Helena Semedo.
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!”
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, ©FAO/Giuseppe Carotenuto. Available via Flickr.