While in Dubai at COP28, Patrick caught up with Helmy Abouleish, who – through his work as CEO of sustainable development initiative, SEKEM – has launched a soil carbon credit scheme in Egypt, bringing together around 40,000 farmers who are mainly smallholders farming biodynamically and organically.
With food and agriculture a central theme at this year’s COP, the SEKEM model, which honours farmers for their ecosystem services, including saving water, improving soil carbon, planting trees and increasing biodiversity, is a focus of conversation.
From reclaiming desert land to natural pest control, cattle management and composting, Helmy describes how SEKEM has brought life to the desert in Egypt.
The initiative is about much more than just farming, with schools, a university, medical centre and arts department serving the local community. “It’s not only about the tractor” says Helmy, “it’s also about the music.”
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“The spirit of COP needs to be about collaboration, synching our differences and acting in the common interest.”