NNA News for civil society

Giving peace a chance

Fri, 18 Mar 2016 | By NNA staff

Sekem CEO Helmy Abouleish has called for mutual respect in the dialogue between cultures. Biodynamic agriculture could provide concrete answers to the questions raised by conflict, he said.


Helmy Abouleish has called for respect between cultures.

DARMSTADT (NNA) ­– In the face of terror, religiously motivated conflict and the dramatic flow of refugees, the Egyptian Sekem initiative has called for the dialogue between cultures to be conducted with respect and for the benefit of all sides. 

At a meeting in Germany between Helmy Abouleish, CEO of Sekem, and Dr. Alexander Gerber, executive board spokesman of the Demeter biodynamic association in Germany and vice president of Demeter International, the two men highlighted the contributing factors to current crises as including energy policy and climate change as well as feelings of religious identity exploited by extremists to trigger violent conflict.

This had to be seen in contrast to the work of biodynamic farmers on all continents who provided concrete answers to the questions raised by these crises. Solar-based, ecological agriculture and the international Demeter network with its successful communication between different cultures and religions could serve as a model.

Building bridges

Abouleish referred to Sekem’s success in building bridges: “For more than 38 years the Sekem community has been guided by the spirit of according each living being the same respect, giving each person the space for individual development.”

The importance of nature as the foundation of life was also recognised, leading the initiative to conduct its businesses with the corresponding care and responsibility. With its vision of sustainable development, Sekem had grown into a successful initiative working in a number of different fields.

Sustainable agriculture combined with cultural and social engagement, as well as a fair economic approach, had allowed new hope to arise. It enabled people to live a life in security and health, combatted poverty, created an appropriate living environment and thus prevented migration.

“Reasons which give rise to hate, a lack of respect and injustice are reduced. This gives peace a chance,” Abouleish said. The prerequisites for this were openness towards the other person, a caring understanding of individual abilities, patience in overcoming dogma and perseverance in training ourselves on the path of personal transformation. There were plenty of Demeter projects which provided a good example in this respect, he added.

Seeds of peace

Alexander Gerber saw the power politics of the West, intent on securing its energy supplies, as one of the causes of terror and the flow of refugees. An economy based on renewable energy and the equitable distribution of resources was therefore the key to a secure future.

“Talking with one another instead of about one another, a respectful exchange of views about values and identity, creating fair relationships – everywhere where this has been successfully implemented the seeds of peace and sustainable development are created.

“In the international Demeter community these things are not just noble words but lived in practice,” the vice president of Demeter International emphasised.

Biodynamic agriculture never just meant working the soil, the development of plants and the appropriate husbandry of animals, but as a holistic movement also contributing to thinking about and building a social, economic and cultural dimension.

Thus the biodynamic movement all over the world “can in all modesty become a source of inspiration for development towards peace,” Gerber said  

END/nna/nh

Item: 160318-01EN Date: 18 March 2016

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