Zimbabwe Grasslands Project Wins Buckminster Fuller Challenge

Operation Hope, a solution combating one of the major causes of climate change has been named the winner of the 2010 Buckminster Fuller Challenge. 

At its core the winning strategy transforms parched and degraded Zimbabwe grasslands and savannahs into lush pastures with ponds and flowing streams, even during periods of drought. Operation Hope was awarded $100,000 to further develop its work at a ceremony Wednesday at the National Press Club in Washington DC.

The Buckminster Fuller Challenge is an international competition recognizing initiatives which take a comprehensive, anticipatory, design approach to radically advance human well being and the health of the planet’s ecosystems. The 2010 finalists are providing workable solutions to some of the world’s most significant challenges including water scarcity, food supply, and energy consumption.

Operation Hope is a project of the Africa Centre for Holistic Management in Zimbabwe and its sister organization the Savory Institute in Albuquerque, NM. Its successful approach to land management contradicts accepted practice and theories of resting land from animal grazing. Instead, Savory’s holistic management process re-establishes the symbiotic balance between plant growth and the behavior of herding animals, returning unusable desert back into thriving grasslands, restoring biodiversity, bringing water sources back to life; combating global climate change, and increasing crop yields to ensure food security for people. The approach is currently being practiced and producing results on over 30 million acres world wide.

“Our work proves that we do have the ability to simultaneously better mankind’s experience while bettering the Earth,” said Allan Savory, founder of the Africa Centre for Holistic Management and the Savory Institute. “We are thrilled that the Buckminster Fuller Challenge exists to recognize and support work such as ours, and thank the jurors for this honor.”

Berlin-based Watergy was named runner up of the Challenge.  Watergy has developed and implemented a closed system greenhouse that provides extremely efficient farming capabilities in water-scarce communities. The approach, being demonstrated in Almeria Spain, allows a dramatic shift in resource efficiency for the supply of water, food and renewable material, and can be deployed across urban and rural conditions.

The other four finalists were:

  • Barefoot College, which teaches illiterate, rural women in India and Africa to be solar engineers within their communities, providing energy to their communities, catalyzing their local economies and improving their quality of life
  • Brooklyn-based BK Farmyards, a leading model in the urban agricultural movement, which is creating a web-based crowd-sourcing platform to advance urban farming as a viable business and food source for local communities
  • UrbanLab, which has re-conceived the Chicago street-grid as a holistic Bio-System that captures, cleans and returns 100% of the city’s wastewater and storm-water to the Lakes, ensuring constant regeneration of that natural resource while producing added economic, energy, social, and environmental benefits
  • The Living Building Challenge, which has developed the most advanced green building rating system in the world.  Living Buildings are virtually self-sustaining, generating their own power, using renewable sources, and capturing and treating all their own water.

“My grandfather believed that we have the ability to apply transformative strategies based on whole systems thinking, Nature’s fundamental principles, and an ethically driven worldview to better the world and our own experiences. He called this approach comprehensive anticipatory design science,” said Jaime Snyder, Buckminster Fuller’s grandson and co-founder of the Buckminster Fuller Institute with his mother, Allegra Fuller Snyder. “I’m proud that the Institute is supporting the creative pioneers who are bringing this vision to light, and thankful to our partners who sponsor the Challenge and work with us to fulfill our mission.”

The Buckminster Fuller Challenge originated in 2007 and awards $100,000 annually. Support for the program has been provided by the Atwater Kent Foundation, The Civil Society Institute, The James Dyson Foundation, The Highfield Foundation; The Jewish Communal Fund, and the members of The Buckminster Fuller Institute.

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