Empowering Local Sustainable Communities

Submitted by admin on 5. May 2022 - 3:31

Pictures of speakers for the panel Empowering Local Sustainable Communities

Empowering Local Sustainable Communities

June 4, 2022, 19:00-20:00 CEST (1 pm EDT)

The panelists will discuss how local sustainable communities can be empowered with a culture of learning, adapting science for everyone, reading the local reality, and consulting to achieve resilience, regeneration, climate mitigation and adaptation, with panelists presenting case studies from around the world.

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Judith Bakirya: Agroecology enterprises are key catalysts to empowering local sustainable communities in Africa

Agroecology Entrepreneurs (AgroEcopreneurs) are progressively taking the role of catalysts to support smallholder farmers access appropriate finance, knowledge, diverse markets and influence policy. But AgroEcopreneurs work most times in isolation, and yet they require to partner among themselves and service providers such as banks, incubators, NGOs and policy makers.
Women make over 72% of the smallholder community work in agriculture and agribusinesses. Smallholder farmers have limited capacity to access appropriate finance, knowledge, diverse markets and make or influence policy. Judith Bakirya will explain how Bufruit is taking the role of a catalyst to support farmers build on their traditional and Indigenous systems on utilization of local herbs and how they can be used for human wellbeing, for crop health and livestock prosperity.

Bakirya Judith is the managing director of Busaino Fruits and Herbs (BUFRUIT). BUFRUIT is an Agoecological enterprise, using permaculture principles, building on indigenous practices of working with the ‘village and farming as ‘forest’. Sitting on 1064 acres of land in Eastern Uganda, the farm strikes a balance between farming, nature, community, culture, education and tourism. Judith and the farm have won several awards among them the BBC World Service 2019 award as one of the “100” most influential women globally doing environmentally and climate friendly farming. She holds a Master’s degree in health and development from Birmingham University UK.

Kimberley Naqvi:  Teaching the Cultural and Political Dimensions of Sustainable Consumption>

This presentation explores the process of teaching the social context of consumption to third year undergraduate students, broadening their understanding beyond environmental management and technical change. Consumption is recognised as a key driver of unsustainable social and natural environment conditions. Sustainable consumption and production was formally defined by UN agencies in 1994 and its implementation fostered by the Rio+10 and Rio+20 conferences, and the 2016 Sustainable Development Goals. Students of sustainable development, however, are generally surprised to learn that addressing consumption extends far beyond familiar concepts of environmental management, and economic inequality. While policy and academic literature usually recognises consumption as a profound personal and cultural practice, with diverse dimensions, and embedded in identity and community, such understandings are not easily incorporated into analysis and action. Dominant discourses focus on ecological processes and intervention in value chains and habitual behaviours – in brief, on the technical and managerial. While the limits of this approach can be iterated, common alternatives like degrowth can seem too radical for application. A pedagogical solution has been to explore case studies which examine social and cultural change at the scale of communities, households and “living labs.” Such case studies illustrate both the limitations of technocratic approaches which depoliticise social and cultural change and the potential of seemingly small scale actions which change social relationships and material practices. 

Kimberley Naqvi (BSc Biology; MA, PhD Geography) is a development and economic geographer whose work focusses on the cultural foundations of economic practice. She teaches human geography at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC, Canada.>

Willy Missack

Willy Missack is a National Project Coordinator of the Ecosystem Restoration and Sustainable Land Management in Tongoa Island in Vanuatu; He is Advisor to the Vanuatu Climate Action Network secretariat working with community based organisations (CBO) and Vanuatu's Negotiator on Loss and Damage. Willy was presented with a Queen’s Young Leaders Award in 2015 for his work to create a sustainable water supply in his community. His project expanded across the island and empowered young people to focus on water projects and to contribute to sustainability.

Neil Whatley:  Empowering Farmers Leads to Sustainable Agriculture

Advisors of conventional agriculture, a farming system based on intensive use of synthetic agrochemicals, mainly use a top-down extension approach when administering advice to farmers. While some situations require a straightforward unequivocal answer to a direct question, constant application of this communication approach is laden with power, control and injustice. Conventional agriculture is associated with the mechanistic scientific knowledge system evolving since the beginning of the industrial era in Western Europe. This power system negatively affects the self-esteem of individual farmers, weakens rural community structures and ultimately causes adverse consequences to the natural environment. However, recently developed empowerment-based learning methodologies help mitigate power. This new educational perspective supports collaborative grassroots learning that strengthens farmers’ awareness of their own capabilities leading to more just rural social and economic development that in turn gives rise to improved cultural and ecological conditions. 

Raised on a farm in Saskatchewan, Neil has ten years of experience working with his parents on the family farm and thirty years of experience working with farmers in crop-based agronomy, applied research and rural community development. Neil has a Bachelor’s degree in crop science and a Master’s in rural social studies. Neil has managed the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers’ farmer participatory applied research program, served as a crop advisor for the Government of Alberta and spent several years facilitating rural development in Latin America. Neil is currently a crop consultant, a faculty member with the web-based Wilmette learning institute and serves on the steering committee for the Rockefeller Foundation funded Canadian Prairie Food System Vision project.


Wandra Harmsen

Wandra grew up in New England with deep roots in the Cape Verdean community of Southeastern Massachusetts. A retired educator, her interests include the study of the coastal environment of Cape Cod and Buzzards Bay as well as the human impact on the natural environment. Wandra is also a founding member of the Bourne – Wareham Race Amity Group and works in both Portugal and New England on issues of equity, diversity and access.

Last updated 16 May 2022