SAVING OUR SOILS: Celebrating Soils. Celebrating Life

June 26 – 27, Amsterdam / June 27 – 28, The Hague

Wallapa van Willenswaard met Mr.Volkert Engelsman during the IFOAM conference in Bhutan, January 2014, and she was invited to participate in the conference in Amsterdam, the Netherlands,during her sabbatical leave, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of EOSTA, a trade company in organic produce founded by Mr. Volkert. Parallel to this Wallapa and Hans van Willenswaard co-organized in The Haguea series of meetings and workshops around one of the speakers at the conference: Dr. Ibrahim Aboeleish, a Right Livelihood Award recipient from Egypt; President of Heliopolis University. The activities were organized in the framework of the UN International Year of Soils. The sabbatical was sponsored by two Dutch Foundations-Iona Foundation and Triodos Foundation.

Other speakers at this conference were Dr. Vandana Shiva (India); André Leu (Australia), President, IFOAM International Organics; Hans Herren (Switzerland), Right Livelihood Award recipient who delivered the first Right Livelihood Lecture at Sasin, Bangkok, July 2014; and many others, soil scientists and including spiritual leaders.

Dr. Vandana Shiva (photo) emphasized the essential value of soils and the encroachment on our fertile soils by land-grabbing, industrialization and urbanization, including industrial agriculture. Fertile soils are disappearing at an alarming pace.

One of the post-conference workshops was conducted by the Louis Bolk Institute, the Netherlands, with among other speakers Machteld Huber MD PhD. She proposed to review the definition of health maintained by the WHO. “In 1948, when this definition was coined, infectious diseases were the main problem; but today, particularly in the Western world, chronic and lifestyle diseases are much more important. The requirement of ‘complete well-being’ in the WHO definition has unintentionally contributed to medicalisation: 95% of the present healthcare budget is spent on medication and intervention.

The day after the conference in Amsterdam, Wallapa and Hans van Willenswaard participated in the “15 years Earth Charter”celebration. The Earth Charter, which was launched at the Peace Palace (seat of the International Court of Justice) in The Hague in 2000, inaugurated a change in paradigm from a world-view seeing the earth as a complexity of resources to be exploited, to: a living being to be cared for. Later,this was followed by the more radical Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth in Bolivia, 2010.

Concrete follow-up to the Save Our Soils cluster of activities are:

  • Publication in Thai language of the book of André Leu The 5 Myths of Safe Pesticides. The book was launched during the Mindful Markets Forum at SWU, 31 August – 2 September 2015.
  • Publication of books and innovative research on land issues; a workshop with Rajagopal PV at Ashram Wongsanit in early 2016.
  • Collaboration in the framework of the new MOU establishing “Academia– Civil Society” platform: Wellbeing and Sustainable Development (ACS platform– WSD) or Wellbeing Studies Programme” supported by Chulalongkorn University (CU), Royal University of Bhutan (RUB), Right Livelihood College(RLC) and Sathirakoses Nagapradipa Foundation (SNF), signed on 24th July 2015 during CURLS summer school.
  • A joint research project with the above group and the Earth Charter Initiative, on Changing the Land Property Paradigm.
  • Strengthened collaboration with Triodos Foundation; a fund affiliated with Triodos Bank, the Netherlands.

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