SEKEM receives 2015 Land for Life Award by UNCCD. José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, ex prime minister of Spain together with Maximilian Abouleish

SEKEM Wins Land for Life Award 2015

SEKEM was selected to be the winner of the 2015 Land for Life Award for its outstanding commitment to combating soil erosion and protecting soil fertility through sustainable agriculture in Egypt. The award ceremony was held in Inner Mongolia with a large number of high-level decision makers and politicians from all over the world.

“We are impressed by your organization’s achievement in revitalizing dry lands thorough biodynamic agriculture methods”, the Land for Life committee said. “Your continuous contribution to sustainable land management as well as the contribution your organization has made towards human development is imposing.” SEKEM received the Land for Life Award on 28 July on the occasion of the 5th Kubuqi International Desert Forum in Inner Mongolia. SEKEM representative Maximilian Abouleish-Boes, Chief Sustainable Development Officer, accepted the Award. He pointed out that SEKEM is proud to be selected and to be able to demonstrate that a part of a more sustainable life on earth lies in working with nature and not against it on the basis of a new and different approach to doing business. “We need fertile land not only for ecological reasons but also to implement societal and cultural development as well as an economy of love”, he said during his speech in China.

Maximilian giving speech after receiving the Land for Life Award 2015 by UNCCD
Maximilian giving speech after receiving the Land for Life Award 2015 by UNCCD

The Kubuqi International Desert Forum focused on approaches to combat Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought (DLDD). High-level decision makers, planners and experts from a number of continents participated to highlight the urgency of the topic. Aside from Maximilian Abouleish-Boes, former British Prime Ministers Tony Blair also gave a speech and Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, contributed through a video message.

Helmy Abouleish sent his greetings and expressed his gratitude from Egypt by saying that receiving the Land for Life Award is supporting SEKEM to combat Egypt’s key problems, such as its dependence on food imports, water scarcity, widespread poverty, as well as the lack of appropriate education. “We accept this award with deep gratitude and as further motivation for our efforts to preserve and develop “land for life” in Egypt”, the SEKEM CEO said. At the same time he expressed his appreciation of all SEKEM partners and supporters who have contributed for more than 38 years to creating SEKEM, a “miracle in the desert”.

Maximilian Abouleish-Boes, who accepted the Land for Life Award as one of the young SEKEM representatives also specifically addressed the members of his generation encouraging them to co-create a future based on new ways of thinking “in order to turn the ‘mission impossible’ of today and yesterday into the ‘solution’ of tomorrow.”

The Land for Life Award that was established by the UNCCD (United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification) in 2011 to recognize excellence and innovation by individual groups in sustainable land management with a particular focus on achieving land degradation neutrality is, besides the Right Livelihood Award (better known as Alternative Nobel Price), one of the most important honors that SEKEM has so far received. The UNCCD specifically underlined the importance of the infrastructure  SEKEM has created over the years in the form of schools, a medical centre, and lately the Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development, which reflects the initiative’s holistic approach through tertiary education. “SEKEMs sustainable land practice through biodynamic agriculture has successfully turned unproductive land into productivity, and benefited the locals”, Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of UNCCD, pointed out in her award notice. “An ecologically and socially-conscious business model can transform vast areas of degraded land if replicated in other parts of the world that are also combating desertification.”

Maximilian Abouleish representing SEKEM during the 5th Kubuqi International Desert Forum.
Maximilian Abouleish representing SEKEM during the 5th Kubuqi International Desert Forum.

By recognizing and showcasing SEKEMs work and mission the Land for Life program demonstrates that land degradation neutrality – to maintain or improve the condition of our land resources – is compelling and achievable. SEKEM is delighted to join forces with a powerful new supporter and continue its path to promoting sustainable and holistic development in Egypt and throughout the world.

Christine Arlt

Read more about the Land for Life Award
Land for Life Award Press Release by SEKEM PDF (English)
Land for Life Award Press Release by UNCCD PDF (English)