Event: Scaling-up Agroecology! For Forward-looking Decision-making in Policy and Practice

On the occasion of International Green Week and the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture 2019, the World Future Council is hosting a panel discussion on Friday, January 18, 2019 in Berlin. The aim is to promote the strengthening of agroecology in politics and practice in Germany and beyond – the theme of this year’s Future Policy Award.

Berlin welcomes the World Future Council into the Bundestag

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 Parliament 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.”

Vandana Shiva

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.”

Renate Künast

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.”

Alexandra Wandel

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.”

Vandana Shiva

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.”

Vandana Shiva

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” [1] [2] –  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[3]. 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.”

Vandana Shiva

 

[1] https://www.2000m2.eu/de/vandana-shiva-visions-for-agriculture-2050/

[2] https://theworldnews.net/de-news/aktivistin-streitet-mit-konzern-vandana-shiva-vs-bayer-lobbyist

[3] https://www.seedthemovie.com

Get Ready for the Rain – World Food Day 2016

Can we really grow food in Windhoek? An event at Van Rhyn Primary School on World Food Day shows how it can be done. On a tour through the school garden ‘in the making’, visitors can learn about smart water management and a changing agriculture in a changing climate.

“It will rain again”, Donovan Wagner from the Eloolo Permaculture Initiative points out. Times without water could be used to plan and structure gardens, for education and training. Eloolo teaches learners at Van Rhyn Primary School about methods to produce food holistically and with minimal input of water, such as Permaculture and aquaponics.

Further partners of the event are the City of Windhoek and the World Future Council, aiming to bring elements of the successful food security model of the Brazilian City of Belo Horizonte to Namibia.

Hon. Councillor Fransina Kahungu, Deputy Mayor of Windhoek and Dr. B.D. Mouton, Principal of Van Rhyn Primary School will welcome the guests. Members of Eloolo Permaculture Initative will explain layout and concept of the garden, especially in regards to water management. Guests can “Discover Moringa”, the new “superfood”, together with the learners of Van Rhyn Primary School and the Theresia Foundation which runs a Moringa Oleifera project with children in the Kavango region. Vegetarian food and refreshing drinks will be available.

World Food Day is an initiative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations. It is celebrated each year on 16 October to promote worldwide awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and for the need to ensure food security and nutritious diets for all. This year’s theme is “Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too.”

Further information

The Food Challenge in Namibia

The Food Challenge in Namibia

Namibia is an upper middle income country with a population of 2.3 million people. An estimated 42.3 percent of the population is undernourished due to high rates of poverty (26.9%), unemployment (28%), HIV and AIDS (16%) and household income disparities. Approximately 70 percent of the population depends on agriculture for all or part of their livelihood, while 40 percent are smallholder farmers growing grain crops mainly for their own consumption. Cropping conditions are generally poor and characterised by erratic rainfall and frequent floods and droughts. Namibia imports an average of 60 percent of its food requirements and is thus vulnerable to external price increases. The poor are often unable to meet their own food requirements and the Namibian Government, on average, provides food assistance to 300,000 people annually and nearly double or more in times of severe drought, as in 2013 and 2015.

Source: UN World Food Programme

The Double Burden of Malnutrition

The Double Burden of Malnutrition

Incidence of over consumption and overweight (i.e. “over nutrition”) is increasing in rapidly developing countries, especially in conjunction to urbanization. This trend has added a new dimension to the concept of food and nutrition security. Many countries (e.g. South Africa, India, and Mexico) are now facing a “double burden of malnutrition” where increased intake of fat, sugar and sodium, increased prevalence of overweight, and increased associated ill health effects are occurring in conjunction to continued undernutrition. The concept of food and nutrition security addresses this double burden by emphasizing the importance of dietary quality in addition to total energy intake, thus addressing both positive (over) and negative (under) deviations from the nutritional optimum.

Source: FAO Paper: Promoting the expression “food and nutrition security”

Urban Agriculture

Urban Agriculture

Urbanisation often goes together with growing urban poverty and food insecurity related to unemployment, rising food prices, growing dependence on food imports, increasing dominance of supermarkets and fast food chains and challenges posed by climate change. Urban agriculture is increasingly recognized by city authorities and civil society organisations for its capacity to strengthen the resilience of the urban food system, enhance access of the urban poor to nutritious food, generate (self-) employment and income, and help the city to adapt to climate change and reduce its ecological foot print.

Source: RUAF Foundation

Eloolo Permaculture Initiative

Eloolo Permaculture Initiative

The Eloolo Permaculture Initiative brings Namibians together to promote and create awareness for Permaculture. Their mission is to improve human ecosystems to become healthy and abundant, guided by their ethics of care for the people, care for the earth and share of surplus.

World Future Council

World Future Council

The World Future Council researches, identifies and spreads policy solutions that contribute to sustainable development. The Council consists of 50 eminent global change-makers from governments, parliaments, civil society, academia, the arts and business, including internationally renowned leaders such as Vandana Shiva,Frances Moore Lappe, Wanjira Mathai, Maude Barlow, Auma Obama.

In the area of food and nutrition security, the World Future Council spreads policy solutions that can end hunger and malnutrition, promote a sustainable use of resources and apply ecological principals. We work with policy-makers at all levels and encourage and facilitate south-south cooperation. The aim is to build capacity among government officials and institutions for the governance for food and nutrition security.

The Belo Horizonte Model on Food and Nutrition Security

The Belo Horizonte Model on Food and Nutrition Security

Each year, the World Future Council identifies one topic on which policy progress is particularly urgent for its Future Policy Award. The aim of the award is to raise global awareness for exemplary policies and speed up policy action towards just, sustainable and peaceful societies.

In 2009, the first Future Policy Award honoured one of the most fundamen­tal human rights – the right to food. The inspiring winner was the com­prehensive policy framework for food and nutrition security developed and implemented by the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte.

A central result of the policy framework is the near elimination of hunger in Belo Horizonte. There have been significant decreases in child mortality, reduction in childhood and adult malnutrition, increase in local and organic food production and consumption, more stable income for farmers, and greater access and avail­ability of food for all.

Due to its effectiveness, this policy has strongly influenced Brazil’s national ‘Zero-Hunger’ strategy and has been recognised by UNESCO and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisa­tion as a model for cities in the Global South. The World Future Council works to spread this model, especially on the African continent.

Study Trip to Belo Horizonte

Windhoek/Belo Horizonte/Hamburg, February 12, 2015: In an effort towards eradicating malnutrition, a delegation from Namibia has travelled to Brazil to study the successful food and nutrition security programme of the city of Belo Horizonte, strengthen their understanding of food security and sign cooperation agreements. With programmes on urban agriculture, food banks and school lunches, Belo Horizonte has reduced child mortality by 60 percent over the past 12 years, decreasing malnutrition among children to 3%. The study tour was organised by the World Future Council to bring about a knowledge exchange between experts. Read more

Namibian mayors sign declaration to end hunger and malnutrition

Three-day workshop on food and nutrition security comes to successful close as leaders agree to drive urban agriculture

Windhoek, Namibia, 24 July 2014 – A declaration to end hunger in Namibia was adopted by mayors, policymakers, technicians, experts, and representatives of civil society organizations in Windhoek yesterday. The document promises a review of national policy and legal frameworks and a commitment to harmonize current efforts to tackling food and nutrition security. First concrete measures will oversee the establishment of Food Banks and greening the riverbeds in Windhoek.

Read more

Making malnutrition a thing of the past

Three-day workshop on food and nutrition security in Windhoek kicks off with keynote by Namibian Deputy Prime Minister, the Honourable Marco Hausiku

Windhoek, Namibia, 22 July 2014 – Every human being has the right to enough healthy food every day. To ensure that this right becomes a reality for all Namibians, ninety high-ranking participants from politics and civil society are partaking in a three-day Food and Nutrition Security workshop to discuss best policy solutions with international experts.

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World Food Day: Windhoek is looking for long-term food security solutions as drought crisis continues

Windhoek/ Hamburg, October 15, 2013 – “Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition” is the theme of this year’s World Food Day on October 16. Meanwhile, the food and water crisis in Namibia, caused by what could be the most severe drought in decades, is threatening the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Over 100,000 children under the age of five are estimated to be at risk of acute malnutrition and half of Namibia’s population is facing food insecurity.  With the prospects of failing crops, diminishing cattle stocks, more boreholes drying up and an increased dependence on food imports, the outlook is worrying.

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World Future Council launches website on exemplary agriculture and food policies

Hamburg, October 14, 2010. Since 1981, World Food Day is celebrated on October 16th of every year to raise awareness of the issues behind poverty and hunger. The facts are still shocking: According to the 2010 Global Hunger Index 925 million of the world’s population do not have access to sufficient food and drinking water. Consequently, every day 24.000
people die of hunger. To showcase and explain existing policies that can help solve this tragic global failure, on World Food Day 2010 the Hamburg-based World Future Council Foundation will launch a new ”Agriculture and Food” section on their policy solutions website www.futurepolicy.org.

Read more