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.
On today’s World Consumers Day, the World Future Council announces the names of experts forming the jury of the Future Policy Award 2021.
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.
Press Release: Outstanding Practices in Agroecology 2019 Announced
The recognition highlights outstanding practices in agroecology advancing the transition towards agroecology from the global South. Out of 77 nominations from 44 countries, 15 receive recognitions, including practices from across Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Berlin, 17 January 2019 – 15 outstanding projects, programmes, social enterprises and non-governmental organisations from the Global South promoting sustainable food systems are receiving the first recognition Outstanding Practices in Agroecology 2019, beating 77 nominations from 44 countries. The recognition is organised by the World Future Council (WFC), in collaboration with the start-up Technology for Agroecology in the Global South (TAGS).
On the basis of a World Future Council evaluation report, an international panel of renowned experts decided upon the following 15 best practices to be recognised in Berlin on Friday 18 January, 2019 at the occasion of the International Green Week and the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture 2019:
Africa: Regeneration Through Connecting Seeds with Culture and Nature in Africa
This NGO project works in 11 African countries to revive traditional agroecological farming systems, promoting seed and food sovereignty and regenerating livelihoods. Currently it has 4,640 farmers working on reviving seeds and has revived 470 varieties of seeds.
Benin: Premium Hortus
Premium Hortus specialises in the e-commerce of agroecological products, organic production and producer support. So far, the African Greentech company has trained 400 small farmers and provided access for more than 700 urban households to healthy food. Waste is also limited and recycled.
Benin: Using water hyacinth compost to produce healthy food and protect the environment
This NGO project turns the highly invasive plant species water hyacinth into an economic opportunity, by training smallholders in compost-making and providing them with market access. A 20% reduction of water hyacinth was achieved. Furthermore, smallholders are connected to market opportunities to enhance their income.
Brazil: Community organic waste management and urban agriculture – “Revolution of the buckets” (2008)
This community project collects domestic organic waste for use in urban agriculture in socially-troubled areas of Florianópolis, Brazil. This waste management system has already treated 1,200 tons of organic waste and contributed to the production of nutritious food of participating families, benefitting over 1,600 people.
Cameroon: Participatory Domestication of Indigenous Trees for the Delivery of Multifunctional Agriculture by Agroforestry
The research project enables farmers to implement agro-forestry techniques and to diversify livelihoods, learned at inclusive Rural Resource Centres (RRC). In Cameroon, it opened with communities 10 RRCs, hosting 150 nurseries and serving over 10,000 households, planting 1.6 million trees.
China: Shared Harvest and Rural Regeneration
This social enterprise promotes a community-owned socio-economic mode of agriculture. The Shared Harvest farm weekly delivers fresh organic and locally produced food to 800 consumer members in Beijing, guaranteeing each 200 kilograms of food. It is the foundation of China’s Community Supported Agriculture movement.
Cuba: Generation and adoption of Agroecological Pest Management (APM) system in the Cuban Agriculture
The research programme increases the capacity for self-regulation of pests. From 2003-2008, 30,780 farmers were trained and diffused APM to others. This has led to reduced costs of pesticides and pests in 75% of Cuban agrarian production, and an increase of biodiversity and climate resilience.
Egypt: SEKEM Initiative
Today SEKEM is a leading social business worldwide. It reclaimed about 684 hectares of desert land, of which 100% is operated by biodynamic agriculture methods. More than 70% of SEKEM’s reclaimed land produces food and raw materials for the local market. Its products respect highest possible ethical, ecological and social standards.
Global: Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR)
First developed in Niger, FMNR – a low-cost, quick, farmer-managed technique that restores woody vegetation on deforested and degraded land – is now implemented in at least 24 countries. In Niger, FMNR spread to 5,000,000 hectares, reviving more than 200 million trees. Its founder Tony Rinaudo recently gained the Right Livelihood Award 2018.
India: Promoting organic farming and marketing among small peasants in an ecologically fragile region (Timbaktu Collective)
This grassroots organisation improves the livelihoods of marginalised smallholders through organic farming and producer-owned enterprises. Now 8,700 acres are under agro-ecological farming practices and many of the 2,080 farmer families they work with, are shareholders of the established cooperative.
Kenya: Drylands Natural Resource Center (DNRC)
The Drylands Natural Resource Center (DNRC) works with over 600 smallholder farmers, in order to restore their land through agricultural and agroforestry best practices. Thanks to DNRC over 100,000 tree seedlings of over 30 different local species are planted each year, with a survival rate of 80%.
Mozambique: Inclusive investment for agroecology
Based on individual and collective investment, risk sharing and consultation and negotiation, this practice facilitates a transition to boost agroecology, strengthens local institutions for self-determination, facilitates higher level of aggregation and diversifies production and markets. By 2018, 180 smallholders have been trained in agroecology.
Nepal: Cultivating Green Prosperity in High Himalayan Communities through Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAPs)
This NGO project trains highland farmers in growing medicinal and aromatic plants, offering them a profitable alternative to traditional wild harvesting. Now, 18,000 farmers are trained in over 100 Nepali villages and over 2,500 hectares of degrade land are covered with 13 different MAP species.
Philippines: Building Resilient Farming Communities and Sustainable Economies in the poorest provinces of the Philippines through Agroecology
The practice improves rural development by focusing on organic production, social entrepreneurship and marketing hubs. It has trained 3,048 smallholders on climate-resilient agriculture and initiated 22 farmer’s organizations now engaging in social entrepreneurship.
Zimbabwe: Africa Centre for Holistic Management
Working directly with local farmers in Zimbabwe, the ACHM disseminates holistic management planned grazing. This has multiple proven benefits for soil regeneration and for farmers’ revenues. The Centre has trained 100 facilitators so far and reached 15,000 communal farmers in 16 Zimbabwean communities.
On the occasion of the International Green Week and the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture 2019, recognised practices will be presented at the event: “Scaling up Agroecology! For Forward-looking Decision-making in Policy and Practice”, on 18th January 2019, 15:30 – 17:30h at the Heinrich Böll Foundation, Schumannstr. 8, 10117 Berlin, along with a panel discussion including representatives of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
Statements from the World Future Council, TAGS and IFAD
“To address hunger, social inequality, climate change, and biodiversity loss, a transition to sustainable food and agriculture systems is inevitable. This recognition showcases smart solutions that really work for the local people and empower those on whom food security of the Global South relies on: small-scale food producers. The Outstanding Practices in Agroecology 2019 create immediate and real impact and if executed at scale, they can help to considerably transform our food systems,” says Prof. Dr. Franz-Theo Gottwald, Supervisory Board Chairman of the World Future Council.
“Innovation happens when people who are facing challenges dare to think outside the box. The practices distinguished as Outstanding Practice in Agroecology 2019 show in an impressive way how holistic and innovative approaches can turn agriculture into a key element to fight not only food scarcity but also poverty, climate change and loss of biodiversity. It’s time to give a stage to these exemplary approaches and think about ways to scale their impact.” say Valerie von Koerber and Samuel Wagner, directors of the start-up Technology for Agroecology in the Global South (TAGS).
“These 15 Outstanding Practices in Agroecology 2019 are exemplary in that they empower small-scale food producers, nurture sustainable food systems and promote resilient agricultural practices. I proudly served on the jury of this recognition and call all decision-makers to learn from these unique initiatives”, says Shantanu Mathur, Lead Adviser, Global Engagement and Multilateral Relations Division, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
More information about the practices can be found here:
Media and Communications Manager
World Future Council
Dorotheenstr. 15, 22301 Hamburg, Germany
Phone: +49 (0)1781018019
About the World Future Council
The World Future Council (WFC) consists of up to 50 eminent global changemakers from governments, parliaments, civil society, academia, the arts, and business who have already successfully created change. We work to pass on a healthy planet and fair societies to our children and grandchildren. To achieve this, we focus on identifying and spreading effective, future just policy solutions and promote their implementation worldwide. Jakob von Uexkull, the Founder of the Alternative Nobel Prize, launched the World Future Council in 2007. We are an independent, non-profit organization under German law and finance our activities from donations. For information visit www.worldfuturecouncil.org
TAGS is an initiative aiming at using the Bosch company’s technological strength to contribute to major global challenges. It turned out very soon that our focus will be on the empowerment of smallholder farmers. We were given the chance to explore the possibilities as a start-up within the Bosch organization. The Start-up is called TAGS – Technology for Agroecology in the Global South.
Learning from the Outstanding Practices in Agroecology TAGS aims at finding a way how Bosch’s expertise in technology and/or large scale production can help to scale those practices in order to empower as many farmers as possible.
After months of intensive research, following an outreach to 2,000 agroecology experts from across the globe, the World Future Council is proud to officially give recognition 15 Outstanding Practices in Agroecology 2019. This is the climax of an intense multistep process including a nomination stage, evaluation stage and deliberation by a panel of global experts. But how does the process take shape? Here is a quick overview.
Keen followers will know that the World Future Council has already been directing much of its research efforts to agroecology. In 2018, the World Future Council organized its renowned Future Policy Award (FPA) on the topic of “Scaling up Agroecology”. After a lengthy and meticulous evaluation period, the winners of the award were announced at a ceremony at the FAO headquarters in Rome in October 2018 and the “100% organic state” Sikkim in India beat 51 nominated policies from 25 countries to take the Gold Award.
Following the same theme as the Future Policy Award, the recognition Outstanding Practices in Agroecology 2019 is a furthered effort to find and honour practices carried forward by diverse individuals and organisations, which enable and support transitions into agroecology. From a total of 77 nominated practices from 44 countries, received by a call to action to 2,000 agroecology experts, 23 made it through to the penultimate, most intensive stage of evaluation. Here, extensive research was carried out and interviews with practice representatives were led. As per the World Future Council’s methodology, the practices were compared with the 7 Future Justice Principles, plus the 10 Elements of Agroecology developed by the FAO.
On the basis of the World Future Council’s evaluation report on the shortlisted practices, a global panel of experts decided which of the practices provide the best solutions in agroecology, in accordance with the evaluation framework. The Jury for the 2019 Outstanding Practices in Agroecology was made up of internationally renowned experts:
- Caterina BATELLO, former Team Leader – Agriculture Department, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO, in personal capacity)
- Million BELAY, Founder of the MELCA-Ethiopia NGO; Coordinator of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA); Member of the International Panel of Experts on the Sustainable of Food Systems (IPES-Food), Ethiopia
- Gábor FIGECZKY, Head of Global Policy, IFOAM – Organics International, Hungary
- Barbara GEMMILL-HERREN, Senior Associate to World Agroforestry Centre, Nairobi, Kenya; Team member of the Committee on World Food Security HLPE project ‘Agroecological approaches and other innovations for sustainable agrifood systems that enhance food security and nutrition’
- Dr. Franz Theo GOTTWALD, Chairman of the Schweisfurth Foundation; Chairman of the Supervisory Board, World Future Council Foundation
- Shantanu MATHUR, Lead Adviser, Global Engagement and Multilateral Relations Division, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD, in personal capacity)
- Shamika MONE, Research Director, Organic Farming Association in India; Convenor of International Network of Organic Farmers Organizations (INOFO).
In total, 15 practices were granted recognition and celebrated at the event. With the recognition, the World Future Council seeks to raise global awareness for these exemplary practices and speed up action towards just, sustainable and peaceful societies.
18th January 2019 also marks the release of the Position paper (in German) ‘Agrarökologie stärken: Für eine grundlegende Transformation der Agrar- und Ernährungssysteme’ of which the World Future Council and 56 other German and international organisations are official signatories. This paper marks real movement and co-operation in the field of agroecology and its potential to present a real, sustainable alternative to the current global system. The paper features background information, a call of solidarity to action, the necessary steps to move forward and most importantly issues clear demands to the German government.
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.”