Nigeria recently made history as it hosted the 2017 conference of the Global Ecovillage Network-Africa (GEN-AFRICA), courtesy of Paxherbal Clinic and Research Laboratories at Ewu, in Edo State, Nigeria, from December 10-17.
The Conference brought together 20 participants from 17 different countries in Africa, Europe and a representative from the United Nations. The conference aimed to foster exchange of ideas among participants on how best to create sustainable development and environment friendly lifestyles in the key dimensions of human engagement: Ecology, Culture, Economy and the Social, which also includes the Spiritual.
The Global Ecovillage Network envisions a world of empowered citizens and communities, designing and implementing their own pathways to a sustainable future, and building bridges of hope and international solidarity. As a solution-based, multi-stakeholder alliance, GEN provides information, tools, examples and global representation to the expanding network of those dedicated to developing and demonstrating sustainability principles and practices in their lifestyles and communities around the world.
At the beginning of the conference, the International President of Global Ecovillage Network (GEN), Kosha Joubert from Scotland, affirms the core vision of GEN, which is to build a world that is regenerating rather than depleting the environment, and where cooperation and connection is rewarded.
Global Ecovillage Network in Africa, nicknamed GEN-AFRICA, works with communities all over Africa, especially those communities who want to regenerate their natural environments, preserve cultural heritage, increase social resilience, improve livelihoods and become powerful models of change. Through projects such as the Ecovillage Development Programme, GEN-AFRICA assists local residents and community-owned development activities with transformative, regional or nationwide change.
During the intensive one-week conference, participants discussed about climate change, poverty, food security, organic farming, eco-friendly water solution systems and other innovations. The good news, it was affirmed, is that even though we face many challenges in the world of today, there are solutions and people willing to implement them! The outlook of the conference, the participants affirmed, was not pessimism and gloom, but optimism and joy, an affirmation that human creativity and capacity for innovation are endless.
The aims and objectives of the Global Ecovillage network also include the following:
- To advance the education of individuals from all walks of life by sharing the experience and best practices gained from the networks of ecovillages and sustainable communities worldwide.
- To advance human rights, conflict resolution, and reconciliation by empowering local communities to interact globally, while promoting a culture of mutual acceptance and respect, effective communications, and cross-cultural outreach.
- To advance environmental protection globally by serving as a think tank, incubator, international partner organization, and catalyst for projects that expedite the shift to sustainable and resilient lifestyles.
- To advance citizen and community participation in local decision-making, influencing policy-makers, and educating the public, to accelerate the transition to sustainable living.
Some of the highlights of the conference include a facility tour of Paxherbal Clinic and research Laboratories in Ewu, Edo State, which hosted the conference. After a tour of paxherbals, Participants expressed their delight and admiration for the high level of innovation, organization and scientific research taking place at the Centre, and they encouraged the management of Paxherbal not to relent in their efforts to bring health closer to the people.
The second highlight was the visit to Ewu village in Esan central local government of Edo state. Ewu Kingdom is made up of seven villages, with a population comprising Christian, Muslim and traditional religion practitioners in a balanced proportion. Participants did not fail to notice one unique attribute of Ewu: how the communities live together in peace despite differences in religion. The meeting with the local community took place in front of the palace of the king of Ewu. During their interactions with the visitors, the local community expressed their gratitude to Paxherbal and OFIRDI for their community development initiatives which has made visible impact in the community. Such initiatives include the community loan scheme , and the library project . During the interaction with the local community, it emerged that water remains a major challenge to all the communities in Ewu kingdom. The next steps will involve providing solutions which will be community- led and sustainable.
The third highlight was a courtesy visit to the government house in Benin city to see the governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki. The delegation leader Fr. Anselm Adodo of Paxherbals, introduced members of the GEN international team and GEN-AFRICA team to the governor. During their interaction with the governor, the group made power-point presentations showcasing practical examples of their work in community development around the world, from solar solutions, to organic farming, greening of schools, eco-friendly architecture and many others.
In his response, governor Obaseki thanked the visitors for their admirable work and expressed the willingness of the Edo State government to partner with Paxherbals, which is already a household name in Nigeria, and whose work and activities the governor commended, and also with GEN-AFRICA, so as to tap into their wealth of practical knowledge in community development.