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.

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.

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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Soils for food security and climate: The Future Policy Vision Award Winner at COP23

A report from the 4 per 1000 Initiative Day

On the occasion of the UNFCCC COP 23 (6-17 November 2017) in Bonn, the international “4 per 1000 Initiative: Soils for Food Security and Climate” (Future Policy Vision Award) organized, with the support of the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) and the German Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE), the 4 per 1000 Initiative Day in Bad Godesberg on 16 November 2017.

Following a warm welcome by Dr Hermann Onko Aeikens, German State Secretary of Food and Agriculture (representing Federal Minister Christian Schmidt), and Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, Chairman of the 4 per 1000 Consortium, Prof. Rattan Lal, Chair of the International Union of Soil Sciences, underlined in his inspirational speech that soil depletion, increased salinization, recurring drought and perpetual hunger are just as real threats to global peace and security as weapons of mass destruction.

4p1000 initiative

Full house of the 4 per 1000 Initiative Day in the city hall of Bad Godesberg.

Numerous ministers and renowned personalities took the floor to restate their support for the 4 per 1000 Initiative, including agriculture ministers from Spain, France, Hungary and Tunisia, and representatives from FAO, UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), CGIAR, GEF, Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, OIV, CIHEAM, INRA, IUCN, BAIF, and Danone.

The meeting continued with reports on the work of the Scientific Technical Committee, which developed orientations for an international research and scientific cooperation programme as well as reference criteria and indicators for project evaluation. After the lunch break, Dr Paul Luu, Executive Secretary of the 4 per 1000 Initiative, presented amongst others the Initiative’s new members and partners, its activities in 2016-2017, its brand-new website and the launch of the collaborative platform, the 2018 roadmap, budget, communication strategy as well as the dates of future meetings.

Prof Barron Orr (UNCCD), Dr Ibrahim Mayaki (NEPAD), Dr Wolfgang Zornbach (BME), Ingrid Heindorf (World Future Council), Stéphane Le Foll (former French Minister of Agriculture, AgriFood and Forestry), and Dr Paul Luu (Executive Secretary of the 4 per 1000 Initiative).

Following a report about the UNCDD COP13 by Prof Barron Orr, Ingrid Heindorf from the World Future Council presented the Future Policy Award 2017 that had been organized this year in partnership with the UNCCD and among whose winning policies was the 4 per 1000 Initiative. Launched in 2015 during the Paris Climate Change Conference by H.E. Stéphane Le Foll, then French Minister of Agriculture, AgriFood and Forestry, the Initiative won the Future Policy Vision Award 2017 as it created an unprecedented attention to the role soils play for food security and climate stability.

During his conclusions of the day, the Initiative’s Chair shared also the promising news that U.N. climate talks in Bonn broke a long stalemate on agriculture (Thomson Reuters Foundation), which could trigger more sustainable government policies to support farmers.

 

The World Future Council

The World Future Council brings the interests of future generations to the centre of policy-making. Its up to 50 eminent members from around the globe have already successfully promoted change. The Council addresses challenges to our common future and provides decision makers with effective policy solutions. In close cooperation with civil society actors, parliamentarians, governments, business and international organisations the World Future Council identifies “best policies” around the globe. The World Future Council is registered as a charitable foundation in Hamburg, Germany.

Event: From Degraded Drylands to Green Landscapes

What is in Land Restoration for Youth and Sustainable Peace?

Special Event With The Winners Of Future Policy Award 2017

When? Tuesday 31 October 2017, 12:30-14:00

Where? UNOG Library Events Room B. 135
Palais des Nations, Geneva

Desertification is one of today’s most serious environmental challenges. Every minute, we lose the equivalent of 30 football fields of soil to degradation. We urgently need to act.
Can we empower young people at risk? Can we transform drylands, the most conflict-prone regions of the world? The Future Policy Awardees 2017 and renowned speakers show that we can. Through a compelling combination of a high-level discussion with distinguished experts, a multi-cultural performance, and an interactive dialogue with the audience, this special event shows how the destructive drama of desertification can become a constructive theatre of land restoration. This year, the Future Policy Award was organized by the World Future Council in partnership with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

A discussion with

Ousséni Diallo, President, Green Cross, Burkina Faso
Atinkut Mezgebu Wubneh, Head of Agriculture and Rural Development Bureau, Tigray, Ethiopia
Pradeep Monga, Deputy Executive Secretary, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification
Alexandra Wandel, Director, Vice Chair of the Management Board, World Future Council

Moderator

Rama Mani, Convenor, University of Oxford’s Enacting Global Transformation; Founder, Theatre of Transformation Academy; Councillor, World Future Council

Performance by Theatre Transformation Academy

Followed by a reception

For those without an access badge, registration for this event is obligatory.
Interested participants are invited to register online before 31 October 2017.

COP13: Costa Rica and the Benefits of Prosperity Sharing

Today, the thirteenth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP13) kicks off in Cancun, Mexico. Delegates from around the world are expected to add shape and definition to their country’s long term commitments to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

Back in 1998, Costa Rica introduced a Biodiversity Law which protects not only the variety of animal and plant life in the country but also the genetic and biochemical resources derived from them. In 2010, the country won the Future Policy Award 2010 for their successful approach.

Raising awareness of biodiversity loss, which is threatening wildlife, the environment and our common future, has been at the core of the work of the World Future Council for many years. In the face of the looming biodiversity crisis, policy-makers must work urgently towards ambitious and comprehensive policies – and good solutions already exist. In the run up to the conference we interviewed a number of policy influencers in Costa Rica, a country well known for its success in combining the use of its biodiversity with economic growth.

Back in 1998, Costa Rica introduced a Biodiversity Law which protects not only the variety of animal and plant life in the country but also the genetic and biochemical resources derived from them. In 2010, the country won the Future Policy Award 2010 for their successful approach.

Patricia Madrigal Cordero, Vice-Minister of the Environment, said that the law also shields the intellectual property rights associated with traditional knowledge and practices of indigenous people from commercial exploitation by outside actors.

How, then, has Costa Rica been so successful in protecting its biodiversity whilst maintaining steady economic development and being named the world’s happiest country in a report published by the New Economics Foundation? Silvia Rodriguez-Cervantes from the Ecological Federation of Costa Rica, an NGO, points out that the Biodiversity Law established a new authority to manage the country’s biodiversity resources by combining government ministries with civil society groups. This demonstrates a successful power-sharing agreement between different levels of governance to ensure that no one group has total control over the genetic and biochemical resources of the country.

Policy-makers stand to learn a lot from the Costa Rican model, which incorporates a policy mix of governance-sharing, wealth distribution and protection for minority communities. Three key ingredients for a happy and healthy society.

Secondly, the objectives of the law have been socially inclusive from the outset. With Article 1 of the Law aiming to conserve biodiversity as well as to; “…distribute in an equitable manner the benefits and derived costs”.

With inequalities of wealth increasing across the globe, policy-makers would do well to see the Costa Rican Biodiversity Law not only as a piece of effective environmental legislation, but also as a policy that attempts to share the benefits of increased prosperity more evenly across society. To read in more detail how Costa Rica has achieved these goals visit our Policy Database.

Policy-makers stand to learn a lot from the Costa Rican model, which incorporates a policy mix of governance-sharing, wealth distribution and protection for minority communities. Three key ingredients for a happy and healthy society.

On that note we wish all delegates and participants at the COP13 in Mexico a fruitful and productive conference.

MPs from six East African countries sign declaration to save forests

Inter-Parliamentary Hearing in Nairobi comes to successful close

Nairobi, 6 October 2014: Several members of National Parliaments and Senators from Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe declared their commitment to take leadership in saving forests and restoring land at the 3rd Inter-Parliamentary Hearing on ‘Forests for People’ which took place in Nairobi, Kenya, last week.

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Sustainable Biochar

In addition to measures for enriching farmland and pastures with ‘conventional’ organic matter, a potentially important additional option is available in the form of ‘Biochar’. Biochar can be produced by pyrolysis (low-oxygen combustion) of organic materials – forest thinnings, sawdust, agricultural wastes, urban organic wastes or sewage solids – and the resulting charcoal-like substance can be incorporated into farmland as a long term carbon storage option. These are ways of producing ‘sustainable biochar’ as opposed to its production from monoculture tree plantations, which is rightly vigorously opposed by an international coalition of environmental groups.

Use of charcoal as a soil conditioner has ancient origins, and is best documented  with reference to the ‘terra preta’ soils found in parts of the Amazon. Much evidence now exists that charcoal was mixed by Amazonian Indian cultivators with food- and human wastes to enrich poor and acidic soils. The predecessors of today’s Amazonian Indians left behind ‘terra preta’ soils rich in organic matter in some 10 per cent of the Amazon territory. Research has shown that charcoal incorporated in this way can last in the soil for hundreds to even thousands of years.

Biochar is a more stable nutrient source than compost and manure. The porous quality of the biochar particles can improve soil structure, and harbours a vast variety and quantity of micro-organisms and associated plant nutrients,  enhancing fertility and life in the soil, and also helping it to retain moisture – which is very important in an age of climate change.

By ‘pyrolysing’ one tonne of organic material which contains half a tonne of carbon, about half a tonne of CO2 can be removed from the atmosphere and stored in the soil whilst the other half can be used as a carbon-neutral fuel (this equals a quarter of the CO2 absorbed by the plant during its growth). Biochar has the potential to lock the mineral carbon it contains safely away in the soil for centuries. Professor Johannes Lehmann of Cornell University and others have calculated that biochar applications to soil could remove several billion tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere per year.

Bio-char can be produced from many different organic materials, including sewage and urban biomass. At the sewage works in Bingen, Germany, semi-dried sewage sludge is pyrolysed and turned into black granules: the sewage is turned into charcoal. This can then be buried in farm soil and the carbon it contains can thus be prevented from entering the atmosphere. There is no doubt that the billions of tonnes of sewage and green wastes that accumulate in cities every year, if turned into biochar and buried, could greatly benefit the world’s soils soil as well as the atmosphere.

Incorporation of sustainably produced bio-char could be used to reward farmers as carbon stewards, enabling them to enhance their yields whilst also increasing our ability to deal with climate change.

International “Forests for People” Hearing Kicks off in Nairobi

Members of Parliament from African Countries discuss Visionary Forest Policies

Nairobi/Hamburg, 30 September 2014: An Inter-Parliamentary Hearing on exemplary African forest policies was officially opened with a ceremony at the KICC in Nairobi today. Honourable Ekwee Ethuro declared the hearing officially opened and highlighted the importance of forests to the country.

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