French-Algerian pioneer of agroecology Pierre Rabhi passes away, aged 83

French-Algerian pioneer of agroecology Pierre Rabhi passes away, aged 83
Rabhi dedicated his life to developing a more environmentally-conscious model of society through his books, his pioneering work in agriculture and a network of small-scale initiatives.
2 min read
05 December, 2021
Pierre Rabhi spent his life developing and teaching agroecology in several countries [Jean-Marie HOSATTE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty]

Algerian-French writer and environmental figure Pierre Rabhi passed away on Saturday aged 83, French media reported on late on Saturday.

An internationally recognised thinker, philosopher and environmentalist, Rabhi pioneered the development of agroecology, a movement concerned with applying ecological principles in agriculture, which rejects the use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers.

Rabhi published many books on ecology and reforming our current economic models. His most famous work, Vers la sobriete heureuse, has sold over 460,000 copies since its publication in 2010. 

Rabhi also founded the Colibris movement along with French writer Cyril Dion, with the goal to "inspire and unite all those who want to work towards building a new society" by encouraging small-scale initiatives; shared gardens, pilot farms, localised supply chains.

He became widely known in France in 2002 after briefly running in the presidential election, where he succeeded in introducing environmental issues in the national political debate early on.

Rabhi was born in 1938 in Algeria of Arab Algerian parents, but was raised by a family of French settlers whom his father had entrusted with his education.

He left Algeria at the start of the independence war and spent most of adult his life in France. In 1961, he settled in the rural province of Ardeche, where he established a farm with his wife Michele.

Rabhi remained connected to the continent of his birth, and frequently travelled to sub-Saharan Africa to exchange agroecological knowledge in rural Sahelian communities.

There, he had become close to Burkina Faso's independence leader Thomas Sankara, who was a staunch defender of local food sovereignty.

Rabhi spent the last years of his life teaching, writing and sharing his philosophical views on ecology. 

Several major French politicians and thinkers have since reacted to his death. "One of the great precursors of agroecology has left us," tweeted the Green Party's presidential candidate Yannick Jadot.