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Nr. 118 - Juli 2012


SEKEM‘s Journal for Culture, Economy, Society and Ecology in Egypt

Editorial Dear Readers, this last month SEKEM did not travel to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, more commonly known as „Rio +20“. A journey from Egypt to Rio de Janeiro would impose huge costs not only on SEKEM but especially on the environment. 7.5 tonnes of CO2 would be released into the atmosphere by the flight to Brazil only. To that would have to be added the costs for accommodation, travel and attendance at the event site. As important as it is that people come together globally and agree on how they want to implement a new global regulatory framework for the protection of the environment after 2015: SEKEM’s co-workers stay at home. The money they would have spent in Rio they will rather put to better use by financing new development projects locally. New biological sewage treatment plants, for instance, which are as small as you can see on the picture to the right, but highly efficient. They help conserve water in the most natural way possible. Nevertheless, SEKEM has a clear position on „Rio +20“ which we will outline in the following article.

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Rio+20 Conference



Helmy Abouleish Signs Communiqué

Eurythmy Caravan Reaches Egypt

SEKEM Publishes Fifth Report

SEKEM Urges Action From Governments to Safeguard Global Water On the occasion of the conference „Rio +20“ SEKEM has highlighted the in a press release the importance of international partnerships for the protection of global water resources.

With the help of international funders SEKEM has built several bio-treatment plants for waste water that help to preserve the quality of SEKEM’s most important natural resource.


n occasion of the Rio+20 Earth Summit, a group of 45 chief executive officers announced a major commitment to advance corporate water management practices, and called on governments attending the Summit to make global water security a top priority. In a special Communiqué carrying the names of all 45 CEOs, the business leaders highlighted the urgency of the global water crisis, calling on governments to step up their efforts. Helmy

Abouleish signed the document on behalf of the SEKEM Initiative. The CEOs outline a range of public policy actions they believe governments should undertake to make meaningful progress on water and to better leverage the resources and capabilities of the international business community. These include developing policies and incentives to improve water productivity and SEKEM Insight | Juli 2012 | Page 1


efficiency especially agriculture, establishing fair valuation of water for agriculture, industry, and people, increasing investment in sanitary infrastructure, sharing policies, innovations, and tools in order to scale up good practice, and working more actively with the business community, private finance and civil society.

SEKEM Offers Co-Workers Speech and Communication Skills Training

“Water is the source of all life. For us, being located in an arid climate, this is a challenge which we tackle through innovative irrigation systems developed in cooperation with international partners”, said Helmy Abouleish, CEO of the SEKEM Group.

laborate more to put in place the necessary policies, incentives, and frameworks for effective action. 2. Organic agriculture goes just half the way - the future of sustainable agriculture lies in „organic+“, that is organic production plus global frameworks for fairer and more equitable trade. Only the two together will make sure that both earth and humankind will benefit equally.

Conference „Rio+20“ The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development was held from 20 to 22 June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro. Alluding to the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development it has been called "Rio +20". This year's conference was supposed to meet the following three objectives: ensuring renewed political commitment to sustainable development, progress measurement, and continuing problems in the implementation of already agreed objectives and addressing new and emerging challenges. The conference was attended by some 190 countries.

Agriculture’s fundamental role in fighting climate change SEKEM has been following the proceedings at Rio+20 closely and reiterates its demands concerning the key role of agriculture in fighting climate change and protecting our most important global common, the environment: 1. Acknowledge the fundamental role of sustainable agriculture in fighting climate change, improve and protect the earth’s arable soils, safeguard water resources, and improve the health of global flora and fauna. Governments, private actors and civil society need to col-

Through the Communiqué, the companies including SEKEM commit to expanding their water-management practices, which include actions such as setting targets on water efficiency, working with suppliers to improve their water practices, and partnering with other stakeholders in the field. “This Communiqué and the examples of action show that many businesses are ready to raise their game even further – urging that governments do the same.”, comments Gavin Power, Deputy Director the UN Global Compact, and Head of the CEO Water Mandate. 45 CEO’s Sign Special Communiqué All 45 chief executives are endorsers of the UN Global Compact’s CEO Water Mandate, a business-focused initiative launched by UN SecretaryGeneral Ban Ki-moon in 2007. The special Communiqué was issued at the Global Compact-hosted Corporate Sustainability Forum in Rio de Janeiro before the official opening of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, known as Rio+20. Bijan Kafi


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Communication, Creativity and Awareness (CCA)“ the new training is called that SEKEM has recently begun to offer its co-workers of the sales departments at SEKEM’s companies Atos and Isis. Much of the effectiveness and influence of our communication depends on the precise way we speak and on the power of our voice. Therefore, the participants in the new course specifically learn about the interrelationship of body tension, breathing and the force of one’s voice. In addition to the speech training in the Arabic language, which always includes exercises in breathing and vocal articulation, the courses also concentrate on mastering one’s postures and gestures - body language, that is. To help co-workers minimize stress, they are being introduced to a method of breathing and muscle relaxation which is easy to learn and can be exercised at all times. The courses do not directly aim at improvements in work performance, but offer an opportunity for the development of one’s personality. This is especially appreciated by the participants who have so far taken the course. From February to June 2012 approximately 30 people have received training in groups of 5. The aforementioned breathing and muscle relaxation method was also offered as a short program at SEKEM’s Cairo headquarters. „How to relax in 7 minutes“ the offer is called. Anyone interested can participate as the course is offered 20 before and after the lunch breaks in the cafeteria. All trainings are being conducted by Dorothea Walter, a longtime SEKEM teacher and experienced speech and voice coach as well as psychologist from Germany. Dorothea Walter

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SEKEM Day Celebrates 2012 Opening of Heliopolis University The traditional SEKEM day in Stuttgart, Germany recently looked back on the tumultuous year 2011 and the impact of the revolution on SEKEM. It also celebrated the opening of the Heliopolis University in fall 2012.


he SEKEM Friends, the German support organisation of SEKEM, on 5 May 2012 again held its traditional SEKEM Day at the Liederhalle in Stuttgart. As Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish could not attend the event, he was represented by his son, Helmy Abouleish. This year, the day was very much under the influence of the personal experience of the revolution as witnessed by SEKEM employees and specifically Helmy Abouleish, who took to the stage to give the audience his own eye-witness account.

The general assembly of the association’s members that was held in the morning first provided all visitors with a comprehensive insight into the work of the SEKEM Community. The day then continued later under the thematic heading „Give our earth a future - act consciously“. In his review of the past, crisis-ridden year, Helmy Abouleish again illuminated the individual events making up the revolution and the consequences that arose from them. It is important to learn from the past and discover the proper ways for SEKEM to develop in the future, in spite of the political development of the country, he said. Heliopolis University Launches Later This year During this period of uncertainty, an unexpected development was announced. Now that the consent of the authorities for the opening of the University of Heliopolis has been granted in full, works are underway to ensure its opening in late 2012. After seven years of preparation, that means that all supporting

organisations have now decided to concentrate their forces in order to help in realising the opening of the university. They see it as their duty to assist in its development through contributing to its funding from Europe. Through the implementation of the university, a unique step is made that also aims at making the next step in the search for a new image of man through education. The clubs are happy when they can count on support from its members and friends. With the said conference theme, the participants began to explore an area of global ​​ significance. On the basis of the „World Agriculture Report“, a study by the World Bank, renowned researcher in bio-dynamic farming Nikolai Fuchs delineated the current world crisis. Only through a radical change in consciousness, a different approach to caring for our planet, can we overcome the global environmental and social crisis, he said. That there are already ways through which big improvements can be made was demonstrated impressively by Tobias Bandel, partner at Soil & More. Using compost to build healthy soils promises healthy farmland and plentiful harvests. Or, as Helmy Abouleish put it with a view to SEKEM’s new desert farms: “from lifeless desert soils rise thriving cultures”. The following panel discussion, moderated by Dr. Bruno Sandkuhler, gave an opportunity to deepen these ideas. Sincere thanks go to all volunteers who contributed to the successful day. Waltraud Bandel

SEKEM Publishes Fifth Report on Sustainable Development


he SEKEM Initiative will publish its annual report on sustainable development in late July. The document makes extensive reference to the exciting but also challenging period of the year 2011, when Egypt experienced a revolution that had a lasting influence on SEKEM’s own activity. In this fifth report, some changes were made to the reporting methodology. A new introductory part provides readers with a descriptive overview of the management practices at SEKEM and the activities and projects in the four dimensions economy, society, culture and ecology that are carried out by the initiative. This part begins with a fictional story that is directed at readers who have not yet visited SEKEM. Its aim is to introduce readers to the uniqueness of the initiative itself at its peculiar working conditions. Following the introductory part, the new performance report features a thorough analysis of the SEKEM Group and the SEKEM Development Foundation (SDF), the initiative’s non-profit arm. It relies on new and advanced performance indicators (KPI), which have been added as part of the ongoing revision of the „Sustainability Flower“ model, SEKEM’s self-developed concept of sustainability in business. In addition, this section deals with topics that have not yet been analysed in any report before, for instance, the aspect of „self-realization.“ This indicator aims to help SEKEM understand the conditions for human well being of its employees in order to promote them more effectively. Matthias Keitel

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More information: Sustainable%20Development

SEKEM Insight | Juli 2012 | Page 3


Eurythmy on the Banks of the Green River The SEKEM eurythmy ensemble participates in the world-wide project „Eurythmy Caravan“ that was recently founded on the occasion of a symposium on social eurythmy at Alanus University Alfter, Germany. SEKEM so brings eurythmy to the remote deserts of Upper Egypt. more than 40 degrees Celsius, everyone enjoyed breathing free again. Eurythmy in the Desert and With the Employees

Participants in the project eurythmy caravan on the SEKEM farm in Minya.


n 17 June 2012 the “Eurythmy Caravan’s” artistic eurythmy ensemble moved to the SEKEM Initiative in Egypt. The participants in the caravan were male and female students of eurythmy at SEKEM as well as teachers from the SEKEM school, and some of the trainees of the SEKEM Vocational Training Centre (VTC). Students of the University Alanus develop project

The idea for the Eurythmy caravan had been born on the first social eurythmy symposium in 2009 at the Alanus University in Alfter, Germany. In the period from July 2011 to June 2012, all participating eurythmists worldwide will carry eurythmy throughout the world precisely into those places where she cannot usually be seen. They perform, for example, in

railway stations, in pubs, on streets and squares, in nursing homes, police stations or in public schools etc. The caravan reached its final destination on the SEKEM farm at Minya, a desert valley located about 250 km south of Cairo. The plants that have only recently been planted in the barren valley are slowly transforming the hot landscape into a „green river“ that winds through the arid desert and gives it new life. Under the title: „Eurythmy on the banks of the green river“ Arabic poetry by Jalal el Din Rumi and Khalil Gibran was performed under the open sky in a dusty plot of desert as a stage. The music of Erik Satie supported the enchanting atmosphere. In the evening, after performing eurythmy on a hot desert day with temperatures of

The audience consisted of employees of the farm and guests of a local non-profit organization with which SEKEM has a long history of cooperation. All viewers experienced eurythmy for the first time. And even the camels could not turn away and watched the show with interest in passing. They seemed particularly interested in the music to which they listened very attentively. As a concluding highlight of the event all spectators were encouraged to become active themselves and to join the rhythm of the chorus performing to a text by Khalil Gibran: „Give me the flute and sing, because singing is the secret of eternity. And the sound of the flute remains, even if life withers.” Meanwhile, the first stars began to appear in the desert sky, and the „silence of the night was spreading like a sea in his chest, a heart beating in your sleep“, as Gibran puts it. Everyone enjoyed the peace and tranquillity of the desert as a benevolent force that filled everyone with strength and encouragement. „It was as if even nature eagerly followed the eurythmy performance“, said one of the apprentices participating. „It was as if heaven and earth touched - and in the middle was eurythmy“, said another. Martina Dinkel


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SEKEM Insight | Juli 2012 | Page 4


Impressions from SEKEM


he connection of the SEKEM Initiative to the German Ulrich Walter GmbH, most known for its successful brand “Lebensbaum”, is a story of partnership and even friendship. The close interpersonal connection of more than 30 years led to a warm and close relationship of the two CEO’s Helmy Abouleish and Ulrich Walter. The common business has lead to healthier products for European consumers, better working conditions for Egyptian workers, and a variety of holistic development initiatives for people and environment in Egypt. Interested readers can now learn more about the history of this unusually successful team of two visionaries in the new DEG magazine. The magazine reports at length on the two in its latest issue in an article on the „two crazies“ and their dream. The article is available at this location (PDF download in German). SEKEM Insight | Juli 2012 | Page 5

News in Brief

Damid Launches New Internet Offerings

GLS Bank Elected „Bank of the Year“ for Third Time

A New Paradigm for Demeter Certification

From now on all patients and everyone else interested in anthroposophic medicine can make use of the interactive Web 2.0 offerings by the umbrella organization for Anthroposophical Medicine in Germany (DAMiD).

Already for the third consecutive year, the GLS Bank won the prestigious prize „Bank of the Year 2012“ given on the basis of the results of a major online survey of client satisfaction.

How can a certification process for food products best support the goals and principles of an idealistic venture such as demeter? There was intense discussion on this topic at the annual meeting of the members of demeter international in Slovenia on 18-23. June 2012. The 41 participants hailing from 18 countries initially heard a lecture by Helmy Abouleish in which he laid the philosophical foundations of the later lectures and workshops that dealt with more concrete issues. His considerations were taken into the following work process to develop a new certification process for demeter. In addition, the demeter institute of Slovenia was recognized as a member.

On its website DAMiD has recently activated a forum that now invites dialogue around the topic of anthroposophic medicine. In addition, DAMiD now also runs its own Facebook page which is best used to stay informed about current activities and directly exchange experiences with DAMiD staff, patients, and friends.

The new Facebook page offers the possibility to receive timely information from DAMiD on the latest developments and current events around the topic of anthroposophic medicine. Those who make use of the „Like“ button will stay informed of further news on the DAMiD Facebook page automatically. There is also the possibility to comment on the news published on the site. The DAMiD-Facebook page can be found searching for „the umbrella organization of anthroposophic medicine.“

About 20.000 participants rated almost 70 banks in a nationwide survey published by the German investment magazine “Börse Online” and the German news channel n-tv. According to the final results the GLS Bank took first place and received high marks in all categories. The award is given on the basis of decisive criteria, such as the reputation of the bank and its high standards of transparency. Also, participants in the survey put forth the GLS Bank staff’s friendliness and acknowledged the particular quality of their professional advice. „The price is a very special honour for us. It reflects the confidence of our customers in our work and the services we provide. To having been nominated „Bank of the Year“ three years in a row vividly demonstrates that we meet the high demands of our customers - a goal we strive to continue to meet”, said CEO of the GLS Bank, Thomas Jorberg.

DAMiD also invites visitors on its own website ( to enter the discussion on anthroposophical medicine and receive in-depth information on selected topics.

The German survey “Bank of the Year” was first conducted in 2010. The customers of GLS Bank and participants in the survey gave their bank top marks in the past two years in all areas covered by the assessment.

Source: DAMiD

Source: GLS Bank


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The demeter members meet annually in order to advise on how biodynamic agriculture can be strengthened. 147.000 ha of certified area encourages the organization to look positively into the future. The positive impact on environmental and human food security are significant and to continue on the chosen path holds encouraging prospects. Source: demeter international


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Masthead: The editors of SEKEM Insight wish to thank all contributors to this issue. Editor: Bijan Kafi Contact: SEKEM-Insight c/o SEKEM Holding P.O.Box 2834, El Horreya, Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt Pictures: Seite 1: Bijan Kafi; 4: Martina Dinkel; 5: Myriam Abdelaziz/DEG. No republication without written consent by the publisher.

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SEKEM Insight | Juli 2012 | Page 6

SEKEM Insight 07.12 EN  

SEKEM's monthly journal on economy, society, culture, and ecology in Egypt.

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