Renewable energy: a catalyst for gender equality?

The Canadian environmentalist and filmmaker, James Cameron, once explained: “The nation that leads in renewable energy will be the nation that leads the world.”

Inspiring event on Solutions for Scaling up Agroecology held at Heliopolis University

Twenty-five years ago, the international community acknowledged the central role our land plays, by creating the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

Impactful UNCCD COP14 event on agroecology and organic agriculture in the Himalayas and new study launched

Twenty-five years ago, the international community acknowledged the central role our land plays, by creating the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

Solutions for Scaling up Agroecology

67 policies from 36 countries contest for Future Policy Award received

Agroecology and organic agriculture in India and the Himalayas: Enhancing fertile landscapes and improving living conditions

Agroecology and organic agriculture in India and the Himalayas:
Enhancing fertile landscapes and improving living conditions

Earth emergency: Governments need to step up action to protect the Amazon

As forests burn in the Amazon, the World Future Council highlights that the forest is a common heritage of humanity critical for climate and biodiversity and that governments need to urgently step up action to protect the Amazon.

2019: Empowering Youth

67 policies from 36 countries contest for Future Policy Award received

Greetings from COP24’s 4 per 1000 Initiative Day!

On the occasion of the UNFCCC COP24 (December 2018) in Katowice, Poland, the international “4 per 1000 Initiative: Soils for Food Security and Climate” organised, in partnership with the University of Silesia, the second 4 per 1000 Initiative Day on 13 December 2018. An important event to which the World Future Council was invited to speak.

Numerous ministers and renowned personalities took the floor to underline the importance of soil protection and how improved soil health can absorb greenhouse gases and thereby fight climate change. World Future Council’s Climate Director Rob van Riet underlined the need to advance urgently the transition towards sustainable food systems and presented the winners of Future Policy Award 2018 – exemplary policies that work towards this transition and scale up agroecology.

After working in 2017 with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the World Future Council had organized this year’s Future Policy Award in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and IFOAM – Organic International. In 2017, the 4 per 1000 Initiative that was launched in 2015 during the Paris Climate Change Conference by H.E. Stéphane Le Foll, then French Minister of Agriculture, AgriFood and Forestry, won the Future Policy Vision Award as it created an unprecedented attention to the role soils play for food security and climate stability.

 

Ghana on its way to its enhanced child protection system for survivors of child violence

For majority of children in Ghana, violence is an unfortunate part of their everyday life. According to official statistical reports, 9 out of 10 children are exposed to mental or physical violence, and physical punishment is a common phenomenon. More shocking are the figures for sexual violence: one out of five girls is sexually abused. There is an urgent need for action to protect children from violence! For girls and boys who experience and survive violence or abuse, a central, child-friendly centre providing the most essential services under one roof would be established from the first quarter of 2019, where trained personnel from the  Social Welfare, Domestic Violence Unit of the Police Service (DOVVSU) and Ghana Health Service are available to offer prompt, secured and confidential service to victims. Our team conducted a technical workshop with representatives of Ministries and other key stakeholders responsible for child protection in Ho, South-East Ghana together with experts from Zanzibar to discuss and develop a roadmap to establish a pilot in Accra. These are the main results at a glance.

Samia Kassid – opening remarks

In November 2017, the World Future Council Foundation invited political decision-makers from 12 African and Asian countries to Zanzibar to acquaint themselves with the country’s comprehensive Children’s Act and its implementation. Zanzibar won the Gold Award of the “Political Oscar” Future Policy Award in 2015.

The Ghanaian delegation, consisting of representatives from the Department of Children of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare and the Law Faculty of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration were inspired by the one-stop-center model that Zanzibar has currently implemented in 6 out of 11 districts.

 

 What is a one stop center?

One-Stop-Center (OSC) are central contact points for children and their families affected by (sexualised) violence. Here survivors can find psycho-social support, a police office to initiate criminal investigation as well as medical treatment including collection of forensic evidence under one roof. Ideally, legal help is part of the centre. The graphic illustrates the model:

As an important element of a strong national child protection system, the one-stop-centres provide survivors (girls and boys, women and men) with various initial services under one roof. As a result, the affected person does not have to go through the trauma of narrating the incident several times and also receives quick help. It helps parents stay focused on treating their child and persecuting the perpetrator. In cases without the OSC, survivors mostly have to visit different institutions – that costs money and time and often parents lose the momentum to persue the case. The later a case is reported, the harder it is to gather evidence of abuse on a child’s body.

Ideally, a one-stop center provides four services and is usually docted at a hospital:

  1. Psycho-social support – this is where the first interview takes place and the social worker decides which further steps are required. If there is an abuse / violence, the child will be escorted to the next room, where a police officer in civilian clothes and trained in child-friendly behaviour will fill in the form to follow up the case.
  2. Medical examination: in a third room, a medical doctor takes care of the child. Here the first medical and forensic examinations take place. If the child needs further special treatment, it will be treated immediately in the hospital.
  3. The employees of the one-stop-center are provided by the relevant ministries (Health, Interior, Family Affairs) and the Centre is (at best) coordinated by the Ministry of Health. All employees receive same training so they can better collaborate and follow same procedures and guidelines in writing the reports. This makes it easier for the police and the courts to track and prosecute cases.
  4. Support for counseling and legal aid is ideally offered in the fourth room.

 

Ghana on the way to pilot a one stop centre

A member of the Zanzibar team sharing her experience at the workshop

The Director of the Department of Children, speaking at Workshop

After intensive discussions with the Department of Children from April 2018, the World Future Council Foundation organised a technical workshop to fully introduce the state agencies in the establishment and management of a one-stop-center model in Ghana from the 25-27 November 2018. We invited experts from Zanzibar to Ghana: Deputy Chairwoman Halima Abdallah, who spearheaded the establishment of the One-Stop-Center in the Ministry of Family and Health, Dr. Marijani, who has been responsible for medical and forensic investigations since its implementation in 2011, and Farshuu Khalfa, head of a one-stop center in Stone Town. Their insights, expertise and practical experience were most welcome and helpful in drawing up the roadmap for Ghana.

Under the auspices of the Children’s Department, 30 key representatives and decision-makers took part in the workshop to discuss the need for the OSC and to develop the roadmap for a pilot program. The participants represented the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, the Social Welfare Department and the specialised Domestic Violence Unit of the Police service – DOVVSU.  Medical representative and international child rights organisations including ActionAid, World Vision, International Needs, UNFPA and UNICEF were also present.

The most important results of the workshop at a glance:

  • Development of a roadmap for the establishment of a pilot in Accra
  • National coordination agency of the One-Stop-Center pilot program will be the Ministry of Health with support of other ministries
  • An inter-ministerial conference is scheduled for the first quarter of 2019 to decide on the roadmap and timetable
  • A core group will identify a possible location for the pilot program in Accra

 

Working groups during the workshops.

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