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Ibrahim Abouleish (1937 to 2017), Egypt:
A Role Model for Sustainable Development

“Sustainable Development is one of the most important challenges to man and it means the creation of living conditions today which will still allow future generations to live with dignity. Sekem, the sustainable development initiative I established 1977 in Egypt, is aspiring to be a role model for such living conditions.”

Ibrahim Abouleish Sekem Portrait

Prof. Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish
Founder and Chair of SEKEM Group, Egypt
Founder and Chair of Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development, Egypt

Born in Egypt in 1937, Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish moved to Austria in 1956. He studied chemistry and medicine at the University of Graz, Austria, receiving his Ph.D. in 1969. Thereafter he engaged in medical research, and was Head of Division for medical research until 1977. In 1975, on a visit to Egypt, he became aware of its pressing problems in education, overpopulation and pollution. In 1977 he decided to establish a comprehensive development initiative, Sekem.

Taking its name from the hieroglyphic transcription meaning “vitality,” Sekem was the first entity to develop biodynamic farming methods in Egypt. Its strong commitment to innovative development led to the nationwide application of biodynamic methods to control pests and improve crop yields. In Sekem sustainable profit making goes hand-in-hand with an integrated socio-economic business model, providing employees and farming communities throughout the country the opportunity to improve their education, health and quality of life.

Since the foundation of the SEKEM Initiative, Dr. Abouleish aims to promote sustainable development of human, society and earth. Sekem developed in 37 years providing services and thousands opportunities of employment. Schools, Vocational Training Centers, and Health Services followed through rigorous effort and perseverance. In 2009, Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development completed the full circle of this series of developments as the first university for Sustainable Development in Egypt.

Dr Abouleish’s vision has earned him world recognition. In 2003, he and SEKEM received the Right Livelihood Award (also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize) for integrating the commercial success with promotion of the social and cultural development of society. He was selected as an “Outstanding Social Entrepreneur” by the Schwab Foundation in 2004.

At Trans4m F4RUM 2010 at Home for Humanity, Hotonnes
At Trans4m F4RUM 2010 at Home for Humanity, Hotonnes

Here is why Ibrahim Abouleish sees Trans4m’s work as important for the organisations he co-created:

Trans4m’s Integral Worlds model and their continuous catalytic input helped us at Sekem to understand our own integrated approach to human development in a much deeper way. Cooperating closely with Trans4m has  influenced the ongoing evolution of Sekem and provided us with an integral foundation that lies at the heart of the educational design of Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development.

Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish left this world on the 15th of June 2017.

Here is our tribute to this extraordinary leader, visionary and friend.



Prof Dr Ibrahim Abouleish - Giving a Speech


Ibrahim Abouleish - Book Sekem Sustainable Community in the DesertIbrahim Abouleish - Book Sekem Symphony