Why is soil so important?

Happy World Soil Day!

In order to stress the importance of environmental and soil protection, the United Nations celebrate this indispensable natural resource every year with World Soil Day, on 5th December. Celebrations are taking place around the world and so they do, for instance, in the Republic of San Marino, to which the World Future Council was invited to speak.

Why is soil so important?

Soil health is fundamental for a healthy food production. It provides essential nutrients, water, oxygen and support to the roots, all elements that favour the growth and development of plants for food production. The soil hosts a big community of diverse organisms that improve the structure of the soil, recycle essential nutrients, helps to control weeds, plant pests and diseases. Another important aspect is that when soil is healthy, it contributes to mitigate climate change by keeping or increasing soil organic carbon. Soil is the basis of food systems as well as the place where all plants for food production grow. For that reason it is extremely important to preserve soils and to start a global cultural movement which returns to soils the primary importance that they deserve.

What does the World Future Council to promote soil protection?

The World Future Council identifies and promotes successful solutions to protect our soils. Our Future Policy Award, which is the world’s only prize for exemplary laws and policies, was awarded in 2009 on the topic of Food Security. The Gold Award went to the outstanding legislative programme from the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte, which promotes urban and community-based agriculture and protects thereby precious soils.

Our Future Policy Award 2017 was awarded in the area of ​​desertification and land degradation, in close cooperation with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. The Tigray region in Ethiopia which has rehabilitated degraded land by mass mobilization and on a massive scale, won Gold Award. Since 1991, soil and water conservation measures have been carried out on 960,000 hectares, and despite a growing population, the region has thus achieved reduced soil erosion, better water infiltration and improved soil productivity.

Recently, we celebrated with our Future Policy Award 2018 the world’s best policies for scaling up agroecology in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and all winning policies from Brazil to India, from Denmark to the USA, from Senegal to the Philippines show how to successfully protect soils and biodiversity, increase productivity, making farming more climate resilient and profitable for those who do the job.

The World Future Council engages to show what is possible, how much more you can achieve if you invest sustainably and not just short-term ideas. It is extremely important that these forward-looking solutions are increasingly taken up and disseminated. Because still we have the possibility to limit the globally rapidly spreading problems. Please help us and support our work for healthy soils!

What happens today in San Marino?

 

Today, on 5th December 2018, at 10:30 am Augusto Michelotti, San Marino’s State Secretary of Territory, Environment and Tourism, and

Ingrid Heindorf, World Future Council’s Geneva Representative, will both address San Marino’s Presidency (Capitani Reggenti), stressing the urgency to protect our soils from land degradation. Thereafter, from 11 am onwards, they will participate in a Roundtable in Palazzo Graziani to present solutions on how to best advance soil protection in San Marino and to discuss with renowned experts, relevant associations of San Marino as well as the general public.

 

 

You are interested in finding out more?

Have a look here or read our recent news posts on the Future Policy Award.

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Winning Policy of our Future Policy Award Ndiob is running for Climate Initiative Awards

Agroecology is key to increase climate resilience of our agriculture and food systems! We are therefore very excited to see that these days one of our winning policies of the Future Policy Award 2018 from Ndiob in Senegal is running for 2018 Climate Initiative Awards of the 8th Africities Summit that is held these days at Marrakesh, Morocco and is dedicated to the theme “The Transition to Sustainable Cities and Territories, The Role of Local and Sub-National Governments of Africa.” We have interviewed Mayor Ba, who along with his fellows at the municipal council and villagers, has kicked off a truly exemplary transition process in the Senegalese municipality of Ndiob:

Mayor Ba, you have recently received an Honourable Mention of the Future Policy Award 2018, at the FAO Headquarters – how do you feel about this high-level recognition?

Honourable Mentions of the Future Policy Award 2018: Los Angeles, Ndiob and Kauswagan.

It was a great pleasure to receive this award. It is the confirmation that our vision and our programme are relevant. However, we won’t brag about this award. We consider it as a motivation to keep working and fighting. It is like an “engagement letter” that the stakeholders gave us to promote agroecology and to prove that agroecology is a credible alternative to conventional agriculture that fails to feed the world.

When did you actually think about agroecology for the first time, and about starting an agroecological transition in Ndiob? Was there a key moment triggering your action?

I am of peasant origin and in spite of the responsibilities I’ve had at the national level, I’ve always been closely related to my family. It allowed me to note the constant degradation of natural resources, fauna, flora, ecosystems and the lower yields that generated impoverishment! Poor agricultural practices and excessive use of synthetic chemical inputs have contributed significantly to soil leaching and declining soil fertility. Our parents and grandparents did not use these synthetic products but had good harvest and preserved biodiversity. So we decided that the best thing we could offer to the younger generations and to the future generations was a sound environment and the abundance we had when we were young. When we realized that, we turned to agroecology. We researched to understand agroecology and we experimented with success in fields and farm schools. Encouraged by our first results, we decided to scale up by generalizing the experience throughout our community. However, to be more effective, it was necessary to have the support of local government. So we decided to run in the municipal elections on an environmental list. The people trusted us and we won by a landslide. Since then we have initiated the process of ecological transition for our municipality. This earned us the award from FAO and its partners like World Future Council and IFOAM – Organic International.

Looking at what has been achieved so far in Ndiob, what are your impressions?

Mayor Ba in an interview about the award winning policy. Watch the full video here: https://youtu.be/TqVedM0LFLs

We have successfully launched the agroecological transition process. There was a lot of training, awareness raising and experimental activities. We managed to increase the yield of millet from 350 to 1000 kg per hectare on a 100-hectare sample. The populations are enthusiastic and embrace more and more our vision. The use of chemical inputs is decreasing and we are slowly moving towards the use of organic inputs.

What will be the next steps ahead of you?

At the local level, the next step will be to achieve in 2019 the agroecological transition of two villages (Thiallé and Soumnane) of the municipality. These two villages unanimously decided to adopt agroecology as a rural development model. We defined a support programme to help them achieving their ecological transition. We are currently looking for technical and financial partners for the realization of this programme. This territorial approach is important. We will build on this process and model it in view of its replication in the other villages. The objective is to extend the project within three to four years to all the villages in order to make Ndiob a green and resilient municipality. At the international level, it would be great if a programme of exchanging experiences that were awarded by the 2018 Future Policy Award could be set up. As champions in this field, we need to strengthen our relations and establish a core group that will, with the support of partners, provide leadership in the promotion of agroecology at the global level.

Learn more about Ndiob by visiting our Future Policy Award 2018 winners page.

“It’s all about the landscape” – new Film on land restoration launched

Healthy soils are key for food security. But today, huge parts of our land are degraded. So restoring land will have a huge impact on food, soils, and livelihoods on the continent. How can we restore Africa’s degraded land? The new film of our Africa manager, Ina Neuberger Wilkie “It’s all about the landscape” is now launching at the 4p1000 Africa Symposium in Johannesburg.

The film explores good solutions in Tigray (Ethiopia), Jordan, Egypt and Namibia – solutions we identified in our 2017 Future Policy Award on Combating Desertification. We talk to our Councillors and experts Wanjira Mathai (Green Belt Movement), Luc Gnacadja (former UNCCD Executive Secretary) and Helmy Abouleish (CEO of Sekem). We also interview Dr. Hans Herren and Dr. Melaku Worede: Dr. Herren, Right Livelihood Award (“Alternative Nobel Prize”) Laureate and Member of the World Future Council. He is known for his biological pest control in Africa. Dr. Worede is received the Right Livelihood Award in 1989 and is a renowned Agronomy expert from Ethiopia.

We find that in Africa, it is all about the landscape.

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 170 Heads of State, Ministers, Permanent Representatives and other eminent guests, including FAO Deputy Director-General Ms Maria-Helena Semedo.

Award Ceremony at Sheikh Zayed Centre, FAO headquarters, Rome. ©FAO/Giuseppe Carotenuto

©FAO/Giuseppe Carotenuto

Helmy Abouleish (Sekem Group, Member of the World Future Council, and Maria Helena Semedo, Deputz DG, FAO. ©FAO/Giuseppe Carotenuto

 

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.

 

Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director General hands over the Future Policy Gold Award to H.E. Dr. Pawan Chamling, Honourable Chief Minister of the Indian State of Sikkim. ©FAO/Giuseppe Carotenuto

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 ©FAO/Giuseppe Carotenuto

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.

What is the Future Policy Award 2018 and why is it so important?

Would you like to know more about the Future Policy Award 2018? Here are some fundamentals:

Every year, the World Future Council honours the best policies that create better living conditions for current and future generations with the Future Policy Award, the “Oscar on best policies”. If that sounds complicated, let us explain to you what it actually means – it’s pretty simple and important: We look at the greatest challenges of humankind and search the world for the best solutions in order to spread them.

A quick Q&A session will help you understand. We also interviewed Poppe Braam, founder of DO-IT (Dutch Organic International Trade) why they support the Future Policy Award this year.

First of all, what’s the Future Policy Award?

The Future Policy Award is the first award that celebrates policies rather than people on an international level. It raises global awareness for exemplary policies and speeds up policy action. Each year, the Councillors of the World Future Council identifies one topic on which policy progress is particularly urgent.

What is the focus this year? 

This year’s Future Policy Award is focusing on policies scaling up agroecology. Policies that contribute to the protection of life and livelihoods of small-scale food producers, ensure sustainable food production systems and implement climate-resilient agricultural practices.

Who are the main organisations you partner with this year?

In 2018, the World Future Council partners with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and IFOAM – Organics International. We received support from Green Cross International, DO-IT – Dutch Organic International Trade and Sekem Group, Egypt.

Why does, for instance, DO-IT support Future Policy Award? And why does this Dutch company think scaling up agroecology is so important?

We asked Poppe Braam, who founded DO-IT, an organic food trading company from the Netherlands and he said: “In many countries DO-IT supports farmer transition to certified organic agriculture. Many of them are smallholder farmers, who urgently need more support. This makes local and national policy by governments as well as action by NGOs and agricultural institutes a vital part of this transition. Chemical farming (i.e. today’s conventional agriculture using chemical pesticides and fertilizers) and agroecology are natural opponents. Chemical farming does not only harm nature, but it also harms our health and climate. Moreover, the business of organic farmers is threatened due to levels of pesticide and GMO contamination by wind or water. It is therefore critical to scale up agroecology and policymakers should now step up their efforts.”

What can I do to support agroecology?

Buy organic and agroecological local or regional produce and support thereby family farmers in your region! Just like every raindrop counts towards a river, so does every choice you make in what you consume.

Does the World Future Council need support?

Yes! Now that the Future Policy Award identified and highlighted policy solutions from around world, we need to make them known to policy-makers around the world. We need funding for publishing in-depth policy reports, campaigning events, etc. Every donation will help!

Scaling up Agroecology: our Call for Nominations triggered unprecedented response

The world’s biggest contest on agroecology has been kicked off this year and the feedback in the first rounds stunned us: 20,000 experts from all over the world were contacted to nominate the most exemplary policies for our Future Policy Award. We received 51 policies from 25 countries from all continents that advance sustainable agriculture and food systems. Here is a quick overview of the process so far.

 

 

This year’s Future Policy Award is focusing on policies scaling up agroecology: Policies that contribute to the protection of life and livelihoods of small-scale food producers, ensure sustainable food production systems and implement climate-resilient agricultural practices.

The path to finding the most exemplary policies is quite elaborate and involves a number of steps: First of all, a Call for Nominations is spread to experts on the topic. Secondly, nominations are being researched and collected: Thirdly, an evaluation team screens, discusses and evaluates all nominated policies.

Our Call for Nominations was circulated by UN FAO, the World Future Council and IFOAM to a total of over 20,000 experts from intergovernmental organisations, non-profit organisations, academic and research institutions, government agencies, development banks and other notable organisations active in this field. This year, we were blown away by the incredible feedback we received from agroecology and agriculture policy experts worldwide: In total, the team received 51 policies from 25 countries and from all continents. These were six nominated policies from Africa, twelve from Asia, nine from Europe, twenty from Latin America, one from North America, and three are international ones.

From certain countries we received more than one nomination: Six from Brazil, four from Cuba, five from India, three from Italy and two from Argentina, Bolivia, Denmark, Ethiopia, Philippines, Spain and Venezuela. The policies we have received come from all governance levels, i.e. from city to state, national, continental and even international level. They reflect a wide range of law-making and policy approaches, addressing different aspects of the topic of agroecology, from supporting organic and agroecological production to comprehensive food policies tackling production, processing, distribution, consumption and waste management.

This year, our research team was composed of 13 people coming from 9 different countries, speaking more than 6 different languages fluently. We engaged with more than 100 experts to receive their views and discuss with them the impact of the policies nominated for the Award. Overall, the evaluation team screened and discussed 51 policies, evaluating 21 of them fully.

The next steps

At the end of July, our international jury of experts discusses which of the evaluated policies best receive the Awards. Our jury this year will be composed of 9 eminent experts including representatives from organising partners – FAO, World Future Council, IFOAM – as well as CISDL, Demeter International, the Global Alliance for the Future of Food, IPES-Food, Navdanya International, Millenium Institute/Biovision Foundation and the Daniel & Nina Carasso Foundation. Among them will be 4 women and 5 men coming from 5 different continents. They will be making important choices and decide upon 1 policy winning Gold and 2 for Silver, 3 receiving Honourable Mentions and last but not least 1 Vision Award.

Last but not least, the winners are being celebrated!

On the occasion of World Food Week in October 2018, the Award Ceremony will be held at FAO Headquarters celebrating the best policies on Earth that scale up agroecology. We are looking much forward to this festivity and to honour exemplary political will!

To learn more about the Future Policy Award click here.

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

 

CONTACT

Ingrid Heindorf

Policy Officer of FPA 2018

ingrid.heindorf@worldfuturecouncil.org

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Experts to discuss solutions for Land, Soils and Food in Africa at Heliopolis University, Cairo

The Future Policy Award 2017 awarded exemplary policies that contribute to the protection of life and livelihoods in the drylands and help achieve Sustainable Development Goal 15 Life on Land. This international prize was awarded by the World Future Council in partnership with the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, the World Future Council. During a conference at Heliopolis University in Cairo, we took a closer look at these World Champions in combating desertification and discussed solutions for food, soils and livelihoods in Africa.

 

Right: Helmy Abouleish, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Heliopolis University and CEO of the SEKEM Initiative & WFC Councillor

WFC councillor Dr. Auma Obama talking to media after the event

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The conference at the Heliopolis University in Cairo which was convened by SEKEM Initiative, Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development together with the World Future Council. The aim of this event was not only to raise awareness on exemplary policies for land, soils and food in Africa, but also to create synergies between policymakers of international organisations (UN Convention to Combat Desertification, IFAD and World Future Council) and national stakeholders, i.e. ministries, Members of Parliament, civil society, academia and media.

During the conference, we were honoured to welcome experts on land and soil issues from across the globe. The event brought together high level participants and experts;  among them were Dr. Mohamed Abdel Aty, the Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation;  Dr. Auma Obama, World Future Councillor and Founder and Director of the Sauti Kuu Foundation;  Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD);  Hans Herren, President of Millennium Institute and Recipient of the Right Livelihood Award; Helmy Abouleish, Heliopolis University Chairman of the Board of Trustees and CEO of SEKEM Initiative and recently recognized as UN Champion for Facing Climate Change; and Alexandra Wandel, Director of the World Future Council Foundation which convened the Future Policy Award 2017 on Combating Desertification.

From left to right: Hans Herren, President, Millennium Institute and President, Biovision Foundation; Abdelkarim Sma, Egypt Country Director, International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD; Dr. Auma Obama, Councillor, World Future Council and Director of the Sauti Kuu Foundation; Monique Barbut, UN Under Secretary General, Executive Secretary, Convention to Combat Desertification; Alexandra Wandel, Director of the World Future Council; Lothar H. Fickert, Professor, Graz University of Technology; Prof. Hani Sewilam, Academic Director, Hydrology Department, RWTH Aachen University

A step forward towards sustainable food systems

Our current food and agriculture systems are driving the vast depletion of natural resources, fuel inequality and contribute to climate change. We urgently need to shift to more sustainable food systems that deliver environmental and social outcomes and are able to withstand shocks and climate change! Agroecology is a key element in this process – this is why the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Future Council (WFC) and IFOAM – Organics International kicked off together the Future Policy Award 2018, a global contest for the world’s best agroecology laws and policies.

Food is Fundamental: Farm Okukuna launched

Ground-breaking at a Pioneering Project in Goreangab

Windhoek, 22 February 2018. In the far north-west of Windhoek, on the boarder of the informal settlements of Goreangab, a visionary new project was born yesterday. Farm Okukuna wants to improve food and nutrition security in the capital’s northern settlements.

At the ground-breaking ceremony, City of Windhoek Councillor Ananias Niizimba pointed out that “Farm Okukuna will be the centre for a number of programmes, including growing food, marketing it, supporting small enterprises and entrepreneurship and – also very important – improving nutrition”. The City of Windhoek has provided the erf, is putting up fencing and will organise basic services such as security, electricity, semi-pure and fresh water.

Read more

How to mobilise the masses: Watershed Management in Tigray

Travelling through Tigray, northern Ethiopia is a mind blowing experience for anyone with an eye for land management. Hill after hill after hill is terraced. Stones are piled up in long benches to stop water flowing off. All of this back breaking work has been done by local communities over the past 30 years.