“Habbanae” loans of north Niger selected for Harmony ListThe Jury of the Harmony List has chosen “Habbanae,” (bond in Peul, pronounced: ha-ba-na-i), a tradition of the Wodaabe people of Niger, as an emblematic cultural practice for sustainable development for 2006. The Harmony List recognizes best cultural practices that significantly and sustainably contribute to improving quality of life, and integrate the culture into social, environmental and economic development.
In keeping with this tradition, when a herdsman comes on hard times and loses his herd, each member of the community lends him a pregnant young cow to be kept for three years. This tradition is more than a contract designed to help people in need, it also helps consolidate the life of the community as a whole by strengthening the bond among its members.
The jury also recognized the “Story-Tellers Grandmothers Program” of Argentina. Launched five years ago by the Mempo Giardinelli Foundation. It mobilizes senior citizens to volunteer to read stories to children, thus contributing to dialogue between the generations.
The Harmony List was born in 2004 of a partnership between UNESCO’s International Fund for the Promotion of Culture (IFPC) and I.DE.A.M –Crédit Agricole Group*. The Jury, composed of members of the IFPC Administrative Council and the Médicis Committee (a think-tank created by I.DE.A.M bringing together groups committed to sustainable development in the financial domain).
The criteria for selection include respect for the environment, the capacity to provide solutions to problems of the modern world, the maintenance of harmony between populations and their lifestyle, and the potential for transfer, adaptation and reproduction of the practice in question.
Up to ten cultural practices from all regions of the world are pre-selected each year, and at least one is inscribed on the Harmony List. In 2004, “Bedouin Hospitality” and the “Cree Bush Schools” of northern Canada were honoured. The practice chosen for 2005 was the traditional Chinese medicine of the Miao community in Guizhou Province, China.
Each year, those involved in the practice selected for the List are invited to make a request for funding to the IFPC for a cultural project contributing to the development of their community.
* Created in 1974, the International Fund for the Promotion of Culture (IFPC) supports cultural development projects and aims to help creators and cultural entrepreneurs to find additional funds. Managed by an Administrative Council of 15 personalities appointed by UNESCO’s Director-General, it enjoys a large degree of autonomy.
I.DE.A.M , Integral Development Asset Management (Crédit Agricole Asset Management Group), is a portfolio management company exclusively dedicated to Socially Responsible Investment. It currently manages assets amounting to 1.2 billion Euros. Its management philosophy centres on the selection of stocks based on sustainable development criteria, and takes a variety of forms within disciplined processes that are adapted to clients' needs, be they French and international institutional investors, companies or individuals.