Celebrating 40 Years Global. Sustainable. Organic.
Organic without Boundaries
1972 - 2012
IFOAM Head Office, Charles-de-Gaulle-Str. 5, 53113 Bonn, Germany Tel.: +49 228 9265010 Fax: +49 228 9265099 email@example.com ISBN 978-3-944372-00-6 Editor-in-chief: Denise Godinho Layout: Catherine Reynolds
Preface 40 years of existence. 40 years fighting to be heard, followed by more fighting to be listened to. 40 years of stories, experiences, achievements and victories. 40 years, in which likeminded people, from around the globe, have weaved in and out of the narrative that is IFOAM’s history. Sadly, some of the people who most profoundly marked IFOAM are no longer with us to reminisce on how far we have come, what our milestones have been. But their impact is never forgotten. Our movement has grown and continues to actively contribute to the development of IFOAM. Some have been involved since the early days and have honored us with their loyalty. Others are newcomers, fresh blood that helps us renew ourselves, bringing the younger generations of organically-minded people into our midst. Yet, despite all the positive meaning that anniversary celebrations like this one have, they always pose one major challenge: How can one do justice to the countless people who, over these past 40 years, have made a difference to us? How to avoid mentioning some, without omitting others? And what about those who worked behind the scenes, as volunteers, interns or others, whose names may have faded but whose sweat has brought us to where we are today? The conclusion is that this publication is inevitably flawed. It merely represents a reflection about the road we have travelled until today, where we have been and where we going. We are humbled by the unfaltering support of our movement, visible also through the many levels of engagement in our 40 Years’ Celebration of people from all over the world. Whether your involvement has been in person or virtual, sporadic or constant, one-off or repeated, planned or coincidental, we thank you all for letting IFOAM be part of your lives - and being part of IFOAM’s.
We would like to give a special ‘thank you’ to Alnatura who chose to cover, as a birthday present to IFOAM, the production costs of this publication.
Table of Contents What IFOAM Stands for
pp. 1 - 2
About Typewriters & Global Action Networks
pp. 2 - 3
A Short Stroll Through Memory Lane
pp. 5 - 6
Did You Know ...?
A Retrospective on the Organic Umbrella
pp. 8 - 11
The Future we Want is Organic
pp. 12 - 16
A Retrospective on the Organic Guarantee System
pp. 18 - 21
Programs That Advance the Organic Vision
pp. 22 - 23
Two Years Old, Decades in the Making
pp. 24 - 25
Growing with our Affiliates
pp. 26 - 27
Organic without Boundaries
pp. 28 - 43
Alnatura congratulates IFOAM on its 40th anniversary Together for a better future
What IFOAM Stands For by Andre Leu, IFOAM President A small meeting was held in Versailles, France on November 5, 1972, at the invitation of Roland Chevriot of Nature et ProgrĂ¨s in France. The participants included Lady Eve Balfour, a founder of the UK Soil Association in the UK, Kjell Arman from the Swedish Biodynamic Association, Pauline Raphaely from the Soil Association of South Africa, and Jerome Goldstein from the Rodale Institute. They formed the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements. For me, having the great honor to be the President in IFOAMâ€™s 40th year, it is also one of those moments of serendipity. I started my first organic farm in 1972, so it is also my 40th year as an organic farmer. The 40th anniversary is time for us to reflect on the past and look at what has been achieved from such humble beginnings and very importantly to look at the path forward that we need to take. IFOAM is now a very substantial organization with around 754 affiliates in 116 countries and yet we still struggle financially. We represent a sector that is worth over $60 billion, collects certified organic data from 160 countries and now has over 80 million hectares area of certified land, including agricultural and wild harvest areas. Yet we are less than 1% of global agriculture. In 1972 we were regarded as a fringe
element, as we were not embracing modern scientific agriculture. Many of us remember the derision and at times the hostility we received in those days from other farmers and researchers. Now as yield decline and the ever-increasing amounts of costly inputs needed to maintain yields affect agriculture, many of our pioneering methods such as composting, green manuring, crop rotations and mulching are being widely adopted to reverse this trend. IFOAM is today an active and credible participant in key international fora, such as United Nations organizations like FAO, IFAD, WFP, UNFCCC, UNCFS, UNCTAD, UNEP and UNCCD. We have the opportunity to speak at UN plenary sessions on behalf of our constituents to advocate for organic agriculture. One of our greatest achievements has been the Four Principles of Organic Agriculture Health, Ecology, Fairness and Care. Another is our Definition of Organic Agriculture. These were developed through extensive consultation and were ratified by our General Assembly. This means that they are a true consensus on how we define organic agriculture and give us guidance on how we should move forward. In the last 40 years IFOAM has been active in all areas relating to organic agriculture, including, advocating the multiple benefits 1
groups, the long hours by dedicated staff who contribute far more than they are paid for and the key support of our membership. This is what IFOAM really stands for dedicated people who have spent the last 40 years working on behalf of all of us to promote the multifunctional benefits of organic agriculture. World Board meeting in Tholey-Theley, Germany (1997)
of organic systems for the environment, biodiversity, farmers, consumers, climate change, water use, health and the general community. In that time we have set the benchmarks for organic standards as most national standards have used the IFOAM Basic Standard as a reference. We are now redefining the complex area of sustainability in organic systems. All this work has been done by people. This includes all the unpaid work by World Board members, committees, working
IFOAM World Board in Bonn, Germany (2012)
About Typewriters and Global Action Networks by Markus Arbenz, IFOAM E.D.
Visionary was, on November 5, 1972, the gathering of five organic organizations at the Palais de Congress in Versailles. Visionary is, today, the impact that IFOAM aspires to make through its goal of the worldwide adoption of organic agriculture. The passion for an organic alternative 2
that regenerates damage, strives for sustainability and respects the integrity of systems and living beings, rather than the advancement of the industrialization of agriculture, is still alive. Rebellious souls refusing reductionist thinking and dreaming holistically of healthy systems:
that is what the IFOAM pioneers and the present IFOAM folks have in common. Everything else, the IFOAM institution, the persons in charge and the tools have changed. “It was not a conventional recruitment interview,” remembers Denise Bourgeois, the first IFOAM General Secretary, “it was the creation of an opportunity for me and for the world on a piece of land in a Parisian suburb.” Typewriters, a Citroen 2cv, piles of papers, creative minds and inspiring discussions were the tools to drive change in those times of expensive telephone calls and ‘snail mail’, a world away from today’s real-time communication via internet and e-mail. Nature et Progrès took responsibility for the coordination and administration of the young federation and IFOAM’s initial years were characterized by a complete dependence on volunteers, operating from the general secretariat in France, Germany, Switzerland and the US. They were willing to work for subsistence-level salaries – or none at all – at the service of IFOAM. It was not until 1987 that the organization could support, for the first time, a part-time, salaried staff member. The then General Secretary Bernward Geier – today still actively involved as an IFOAM ambassador - was to be the first to receive this honor.
association with a General Assembly and governed by a World Board with ten members from all continents. The ‘IFOAM Action Group’ is a web of IFOAM-branded organizations, all linked, and that jointly publish the consolidated annual report and share a common internet platform. In 2012, this action network comprises six regional bodies, five sector platforms and two subsidiary organizations . IFOAM today is a modern value-driven and visionoriented civil society organization that provides relevant services to its constituents. It is still a democratically legitimized and stakeholder-driven umbrella organization, but it would not be able to embrace its diversity of activities if it was not also a Global Action Network that proactively seeks opportunities to, with its allies, make a difference. IFOAM rests its strategy on five pillars of action: The ‘Organic Umbrella’ unites the organic movement; ‘Organic Advocacy’ lobbies the organic interests to international organization first of all the United Nations; the ‘Organic Value Chain’ facilitates production and trade trough IFOAM’s Organic Guarantee System; ‘Organic Programs’ implement development projects with local partners; and the ‘IFOAM Academy’ trains organic leaders of the world.
Change in the future is certain: Today, in 2012, change that is IFOAM employs driven by the 25 persons from expansion of 15 countries. Since IFOAM’s five pillars 2003, the Head and by a changing Office is based in outside world. Bonn, Germany, Thanks to alliances and IFOAM has now and action staff representatives networks lead by Office inauguration in Bonn, Germany (2004) in Argentina, Italy, IFOAM, the global USA, Kenya and China. organic movement can be widely heard and create an impact - despite the enormous scope, the rising It has always been the mission of IFOAM to unite complexity of issues and the diversity of stakeholders. the organic movement, with the huge diversity of its schools of thought and the multiple roles of its numerous stakeholders. IFOAM‘s development over time allows us to be in a position to also lead and to assist the organic movement. Five founding members made a start. Today, IFOAM is the only global organic
IFOAM’s brand value and the energy that all the IFOAMs and their members put into global coordination will shape its future. And we know that at its 50th anniversary we will still be convinced that the participants of Versailles had the right vision!
Happy Birthday, IFOAM! 40 years of commitment to the international organic movement At 40 one is in the prime of life and has already gathered lots of experience, but is still young and full of enthusiasm and ideas. This is also true of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, IFOAM, the international patron of BioFach. IFOAM has every reason to be pleased and can be proud of its 40 years of highly dedicated work for organic agriculture and international certification standards. IFOAM passionately supports organic protagonists around the world. The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements is celebrating its 40tth anniversary and BioFach says Happy Birthday!
Under the patronage of IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements) and with BÖLW (German Federation of the Organic Food Industry) as national supporting organization, BioFach guarantees the constantly high quality of the products on display through strict admission criteria. IFOAM has also accepted the patronage of the international offshoots of BioFach in Japan, the USA, Brazil, China and India. The world federation sets and harmonizes the international standards, which are also the benchmark for BioFach, and is therefore an integral part of BioFach’s most important unique selling point. The topics and impulses that IFOAM contributes to the event every year have a lasting influence on the sector and inspire over and over again. Claus Rättich, Member of the Management Board of NürnbergMesse: “IFOAM has now accompanied BioFach as partner and patron for 20 years since 1992. It has decisively contributed to the development and internationalization of BioFach. On behalf of NürnbergMesse and personally, I would like to thank IFOAM and the many highly dedicated people there for their input. We look forward to sharing the future!”
Claus Rättich, Management Board Member of the NürnbergMesse
A Short Stroll Through Memory Lane In the early 1970s, there was a publicity manager at a famous French weekly magazine who voyaged all over the world, visiting clients. A friend of the Organic Agriculture movement in general and of the French association Nature et Progrès in particular, Karin Mundt’s favorite sport was hunting down the pioneers of Organic Agriculture. After introducing contacts all over the world to each other, discussions began about a new organization to, in the words of the then president of Nature et Progrès Roland Chevriot, “federate movements”.
association Nature et Progrès, at which five organizations signed the founding of IFOAM and agreed to keep in touch via periodical bulletins in three languages (French, English and German). Today, decades later, there is an ever greater need to carry on organizing production and producers, setting up a world ready to resist the monopoly that
The basic unwritten ethical principles of this new movement drew inspiration from World Board meeting in Grosseto, Italy (2001) a variety of sources. Traditional peasant wisdom was combined with 20th century has polluted even the globe’s remotest biology and ecology, including human corners. It is our turn to reorganize life in ecology, plus a pivotal postsuch a way that our children industrial innovation: an can stand on firm ground – “People, not absolute taboo on synthetic and continue the struggle. money, built the substances. This radical IFOAM’s Early Income federation.” refusal of synthetic chemicals or Lack Thereof caught the public’s attention Bernward Geier and triggered a movement, Anton further recalls: “In like a stone dropped in a the first few years, the pond. occasional generous check from Robert Rodale in Pennsylvania [USA] was a source The first IFOAM assembly took place in of encouragement to N&P [to promote Versailles, during the 1972 congress of the
IFOAM’s Early Days
IFOAM - Remembered by Anton Pinschof
IFOAM]. Little by little, the IFOAM bank was also fed by a modest and erratic income from membership fees and newsletter subscriptions. It was enough for postage stamps, typewriter ribbons and to feed the acting general secretary and his assistant.” IFOAM was built up with sweat and tears, not big bucks. In the words of Bernward Geier, “People, not money, built the federation.”
IFOAM World Board in New Dehli, India (2002)
It was Gunnar Videgard’s generous donation upon leaving his post as IFOAM’s General Secretary that allowed the creation of a permanent office and IFOAM’s first full-time paid staff member, Bernward Geier.
inspiring a diverse network of movements to join. Eliot Coleman, who was running a demonstration farm in the US, was largely responsible for expanding IFOAM networks in North America. Instrumental in IFOAM‘s early communications were furthermore Anton Pinschof, the first editor of the IFOAM bulletin and the late Mary Langman, who had been a founding member of the Soil Association. Hardy Vogtmann was IFOAM’s first scientific conference organizer, and his long-term involvement provided IFOAM indispensable access to research
The newly elected World Board in Mar del Plata, Argentina (1999)
IFOAM’s Early Days
IFOAM’s Early Leaders
Karin Mundt from France was the first informal IFOAM membership director. Through her travels for an organic gardening magazine that she founded (Terre Vivante, i.e. ‘Living Soil’), she was able to build up IFOAM’s membership by Executive Board meeting in Torfolk, Sweden (2002)
networks. Hervé La Prairie helped IFOAM in his role of president to maintain its ‘French connection’ after the secretariat moved to Switzerland and later Germany. As a strong figurehead, he also sought effective partnerships with other international NGOs. Hardy Vogtmann, honorary President, hosted an Executive Board meeting at his home in Witzenhausen, Germany (2004)
Interesting Tidbits • IFOAM‘s name was just provisional and never meant to stick. Denis Bourgeois recalls how he invented the name before sending invitation letters for IFOAM’s initial meeting: “We did not spend hours brainstorming […], we just wrote what Roland intended to do: a federation international des mouvements d’agriculture biologiqué, i.e. a gathering of people like us, working for the development of organic agriculture in their own country.” He later regretted that the name does not fully represent the professionalism and diversity of the membership. • In the early days, seed money for IFOAM came from Rodale Press, and IFOAM initially shared a headquarters with Nature et Progrès, later on with FiBL. • In 1976 IFOAM operated on a small budget of US$ 6,000. By the early 80s it had only increased to US$ 11,000. • At IFOAM’s 25th Anniversary celebration, there were no EU regulations on organic animal husbandry yet, only for crop production. • IFOAM’s founding father Roland Chevriot was an engineer and mechanic, a keen horseman, a gardener and a persuasive organizer. His dream to create an international federation of organic agriculture movements was not hampered by his day job, nor by his limited foreign language abilities. In the recollection of Anton Pinschof, his greatest fear was that the embryonic association would turn into a “radical agrarian movement” that he would have difficulty leading “whilst remaining respectable”.
• For the early English-speaking organic movement, it was not self-evident to adopt the description ‘organic’. From the early 1940s on, Rodale Press‘s Organic Gardening and Farming had hundreds of thousands of readers, which lent a great deal of legitimacy to the term ‘organic’. But in 1954, for example, the co-founder of the Soil Association, Lady Eve Balfour, disputed this seemingly self-evident terminology: “It would save much confusion if we all adopted the name ‘biological’ farming rather than ‘organic’ farming. We should then keep the emphasis where it belongs, on the fostering of life and on biological balance, and not on just one of the techniques for achieving this which, if narrowly interpreted, may be effective only in a certain set of circumstances.” [IFOAM Newsletter N°17, July 1976, uncovered by Anton Pinschof]. • Only two of three legal signatories to the IFOAM statutes are known: Roland Chevriot and Claude Aubert, president and secretary of Nature et Progrès, respectively. The subprefecture in France where the first statutes were registered was flooded a few years after IFOAM’s founding, and the original registration papers are presumed lost.
Did You Know ...?
• IFOAM’s first scientific conference was entitled ‘Towards a Sustainable Agriculture’ – in 1977, long before the Brundtland Report and the Sustainability Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
A Retrospective on the Organic Umbrella by Denise Godinho* IFOAM publications - photo taken in 2005
What is today grouped under the strategic pillar ‘Organic Umbrella‘, were once a number of independent activities: IFOAM-organized events, publications, communication and marketing, as well as membership.
‘internal letter’, the federation’s (printed) communication tool with its Affiliates. The ‘internal letter’ in turn became ‘IFOAM in Action’, which was only to ‘go digital’ in the new millenium.
The Organic Umbrella
Early Methods of Communication
On February 1, 1973, not even three months after the founding of IFOAM, the desire to reach out and communicate to likeminded people and organizations, translated into the production of IFOAM’s very first circular. As time went by, this circular evolved into what was to become known as IFOAM’s
The Internal Letter (left) in 1985 and IFOAM in Action in 2003 (right)
The ‘IFOAM Bulletin’ (see pictures in the Artistic Ritual piece on page 9) was another of IFOAM’s early communication tools. It was published on and off until it was revived in 1988 with the very active collaboration of Elm Farm Research Center/UK.
The first IFOAM circular, published on February 1, 1973
The bulletin encompassed a variety of content, from scientific to philosophical, that was presented in an almost academic manner, well-substantiated and wellreferenced. It heralded the advent of the Ecology & Farming magazine, which ended up replacing the bulletin.
*With special thanks to Anton Pinschof and Bernward Geier for their input
An Artistic Ritual Anton Pinschof, one of the veterans in the 40-year history of IFOAM, reminisces, not without humor, about the production of IFOAM’s early Anton Pinschof newsletters: “It was nearer to steering a ship than it was to printing.” He elaborates: “After all the over-inking and under-inking of the stencils, there was the walking round the table, collecting single pages in the right order, detecting blanks and half blanks, ending up with as few as possible orphaned odd pages, composing a last complete copy from pages printed on only one side [… before] finally struggling against a westerly Atlantic gale to the Post Office.” Yet, despite the years that have gone by, some deThe IFOAM Bulletin (1977) scriptions still keep, for all those working on our publications, a surprisingly familiar tone: “The editing of the newsletter involved seeking and sifting all sorts of printed, typed and handwritten material […]. It was an artistic ritual resulting in a complex mosaic of themes and auThe Bulletin for Organic thors and titles and Agriculture (1988) dates and sources, all collated and typed at the last minute with little leeway for correction of errors.”
Over the years the magazine suffered some ups and downs, going from a printed publication to a digital publication until its discontinuation in 2010. In 2011 the solution to bring back the magazine came from the movement itself when Peter Brul, Ecology & Farming’s current editor-in-chief, and the Dutch publisher van
Ecology & Farming in 1995 (left) and in 2012 (right)
Westering Groep entered into a cooperation with IFOAM in order to ensure the continued publication of the magazine. Accompanying the gradual increase in membership, in the eighties, IFOAM, “the worldwide association to help promote organic agriculture”, first published the official listing of all its affiliates. For many Official Membership List years, this (1983) publication was a best-selling item, a reference document that allowed to ‘map’ the organic movement around the globe. Directory of IFOAM Meanwhile re-branded ‘IFOAM Affiliates (2012) Directory of Affiliates’ and made available as a free, downloadable e-publication, this listing exists to this day and is published annually. Over the years, and as a reflection of IFOAM‘s increased activity, widening thematic range and need for a broader outreach, it expanded its publication output to include diverse manuals (e.g. seed saving, inspection and training manuals), proceedings, guides, studies, dossiers, position papers, declarations, policy briefs and guidelines. Although English remains IFOAM‘s main language of communication, many publications were translated into multiple languages. A few core documents like the ‘Principles of Organic Agriculture’ have systematically been made available, so that members of the movement can translate and use them in their local advocacy activities. Alongside of sporadically produced publications (e.g. proceedings that are linked to an event or are 9
thematic publications), IFOAM continues, today, to have its ‘regulars’. Apart from the aforementioned newsletters (which have multiplied to account for the specificities of different work areas, i.e. Africa, Organic Guratantee System, Participatory Guarantee System), the membership directory, Ecology & Farming and the annual report, IFOAM began addressing in the year 2000, together with its longstanding partners FiBL and SÖL, the need for access to empirical data around organic production and retail. Published every year, the World of Organic Agriculture, offers invaluable statistical insights into the world of organic. When looking at the body of knowledge produced by IFOAM, often in collaboration with equally passionate organic partners, it is evident that the desire to share information, empower through knowledge and further the vision of an organic world has never subsided.
IFOAM’s 12th General Assembly in Mar del Plata, Argentina (1998)
This was a clear enough sign of the gap that existed in terms of international organic exchange fora. IFOAM did not wait long to act upon this and one year later, in 1977, it is in Sissach, Switzerland, that the
“A Busload of Pilgrims” “In the evening after the 1974 General Assembly, a 50-seater bus left Paris for a 10-day tour of Europe, visiting farms and institutes in several countries. (A couple of penniless students had also hitched a lift: one was Otto Schmid, today of FiBL, the other was heard of years later in South America, organizing peasants). […] This busload of pilgrims from five continents visited a wild boar breeder, the Basel cantonal Agriculture school (which had been converted to Organic) and a famous factory near the Lake of Constance making delicious lacto-fermented vegetable juices. In Innsbruck we met agronomist Josef Willy, who had decided to convert the farm advisory service he directed to Organic methods.” Anton Pinschof
IFOAM’s Early Events
federation organizes its first non-GA event: The 1st IFOAM International Scientific Conference ‘Towards
As strong as the need to communicate, was the need to assemble. In IFOAM’s young years, the General Assemblies (GAs) were the IFOAM events par excellence. Not only were they an essential part of the organization’s identity-building, they provided a unique opportunity for organic stakeholders to exchange ideas and experiences, technical or otherwise. The surprising turnout at IFOAM’s 3rd GA in Seengen, Switzerland, in 1976 - only 30 participants were expected but 70 turned up - highlighted the demand for and relevance of these gatherings. 14th Organic World Congress in Victoria, Canada (2002)
a Sustainable Agriculture’ is organized in conjunction with its 4th GA, initiating a structure of GA + event(s) that has survived to the present day. Furthermore, it is significant that 35 years after first putting this topic on the agenda, discussions around sustainability are more relevant than ever. After that, the regular organization of events became part of IFOAM’s core activities. Conferences ensued, often in collaboration with local partners, covering a host of topics from soil fertility, resource-conservation, nutritional self-sufficiency, or marketing, to animal husbandry.
IFOAM booth at BioFach 1997
Membership Membership lies at the core of IFOAM. Since its foundation, it has been the initiative of embers inside and outside of the GA - that has driven our agenda and activities. Over the years, membership expanded gradually to include a broader variety of organizations, from all fields of activity, and from a broader geograhical spectrum.
Breeding Diversity Conference in Santa Fe, USA (2009)
From the 50 Affiliates from 17 countries in 1975, membership had a first big jump to 500 in the mid 80ies. By the end of 2011, membership had gone up to 863 in a total of 120 countries. Of those 120 countries, regional representation was 43% in Europe, 32% in Asia, 8% in Latin America and Africa (each), 6% in North America and 3% in Oceania.
The facilitation of a hands-on exchange of ideas has always stood in the foreground and even the earliest IFOAM scientific conferences were paired with extensive visits to the field, even across multiple countries. Beyond its own events, IFOAM also sought other platforms, regularly attending relevant events to disseminate its messages and reach potential Affiliates. In 1997, the signing of the contract to become patron of the BioFach was the start of a lasting relationship. Founded in 1990, the German BioFach was to become, within a decade, the world’s leading professional organic fair. IFOAM accompanied BioFachs international growth and marks its presence at all BioFach Globally fairs.
Ballot counters for the World Board election at the GA in Modena, Italy (2008)
The Future we Want is Organic by Robert Jordan*
“Go, team organic, go!” Celebrating success at the FAO in Rome, Italy. Cristina Grandi, Chief Food Security Campaigner
IFOAM‘s international advocacy journey began with gusto in Rio at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Earth Summit). In June this year IFOAM retuned to Rio with a 20-year history of engagement and commitment to advocating in international processes on behalf of the global organic movement. Today’s advocacy activities and strategies are built upon the dedication, passion, ideas, sweat, skills and spirit of so many people over this 20-year period and it is the sum of these actions that the IFOAM advocacy continues to build upon today and tomorrow. This 20-year review is a humble and wholly inadequate and incomplete attempt to capture the highlights - all of which have required a global web of contributors from both inside and outside of the organic movement to achieve.
1992: The Earth Summit in Rio in 1992 convinced IFOAM that the time was right to systematically engage in UN processes to raise awareness of organic agriculture as a solution to key global issues such as addressing hunger and climate change and preserving biodiversity.
1993: IFOAM’ decision to become a member of IUCN in 1993 delivered a quick return with the IUCN conference in that same year adopting a motion on organic
agriculture. This laid the groundwork for future IFOAM lead motions on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) with the IUCN membership.
1996: At the 11th IFOAM Scientific Conference in August 1996 over 1000 participants from 92 countries supported the IFOAM Copenhagen Declaration, which raised concern regarding the first FAO World Food Summit scheduled for November that year. Scheduling the IFOAM World Board meeting to coincide with the FAO World Food Summit was a very wise decision as their efforts were rewarded when leaders from 186 countries recognized the role of organic agriculture in objective 3.1 (b) of the FAO Rome Declaration on World Food Security.
1997: IFOAM became officially recognized as a liaison to FAO. In the special edition of Ecology & Farming to celebrate IFOAM’s 25th anniversary, the then Director General of FAO called for increased collaboration between FAO and IFOAM.
1999: The rules for organic livestock production were legally established on a EU level. As a negotiation partner, IFOAM was able to significantly influence the outcome through its experts in standard setting.
2000: At the IUCN conference in Amman, IFOAM, together with nature conservation organizations submitted a motion on
*With special thanks to L. Luttikhold, H. Bouagnimbeck, C. Grandi and P. Flores for their input
biodiversity and Genetic Engineering, which provoked a major debate among the IUCN membership. At the 9th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD 9) in New York, IFOAM’s Board members were present to input directly into the UN documents, resulting in organic agriculture being recognized in paragraph 16 as a sustainable choice for producing, distributing and consuming energy.
2002: In Johannesburg at the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development (Rio+10) IFOAM secured support for organic agriculture as a ‘means of implementation’ in paragraph 99(b) of the Summit outcome document (the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation): ‘’Support voluntary WTO-compatible market-based initiatives for the creation and expansion of domestic and international markets for environmentally friendly goods and services, including organic products, which maximize environmental and developmental benefits through, inter alia, capacitybuilding and technical assistance to developing countries contribution to both food security and biodiversity.’’
keynote speech, expressing strong support for organic agriculture as an effective means of conserving biodiversity at the International IFOAM conference on biodiversity at the UNEP headquarters in Nairobi. After several years of lobbying two IFOAM motions on genetic engineering, one calling for a moratorium, were adopted by IUCN at their 2004 conference. In 2004, IFOAM’s formal work on climate change started with a scoping study on the role of organic agriculture in mitigating climate change. A major achievement of raising awareness and visibility of organic food and farming in the EU was the establishment of the European Action Plan for Organic Food and Farming, creating a framework for future action to further develop organic markets and farming.
2003: The IFOAM EU Group was formally constituted as a regional group within IFOAM. It focuses on providing expertise to EU institutions and advocating in EU policy processes. Additional to the continuous work on the EU organic regulations, the EU group advocates for a greener EU Common Agricultural Policy, for a strengthened organic share in EU research policies, for consistent rules in food labeling and for legislation that protects the organic sector from contamination with GMOs. It additionally takes a stance on many EU environmental policies.
2004: IFOAM established the IFOAM Africa Office with a major focus on advocacy, especially food security. Also in 2004, IFOAM broadened its vision of the organic guarantee system by fully assisting and supporting Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) around the world. Advocacy efforts of IFOAM members, especially in Latin America, has subsequently resulted in official recognition of PGS by several regulations as well the ongoing development and strengthening of existing and emerging PGS initiatives. The promotion of PGS was supported by the release of the IFOAM position on ‘The Full Diversity of Organic Agriculture’ in 2004. 2004 was also an important year for IFOAM’s work on biodiversity. IFOAM jointly organized the first World Conference on Organic Seed with the FAO and the International Seed Federation at the FAO headquarters in Rome. The then UNEP Executive Director gave a
Harnessing Africa’s Potential in Organic Agriculture - Nairobi, Kenya (2004)
2006: IFOAM opposed the so-called ‘new green revolution for Africa’ promoted by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and multinational agribusiness corporations, with concerted advocacy action through the African Network that had been built up by the IFOAM Africa office. A counter-event was organized to present diverse and effective examples of organic alternatives for addressing food security and rural development in Africa. Meanwhile, the IFOAM Liaison Office in Rome started attracting high-level attention from FAO through side events it organized during the FAO mid-term review of world food summit targets that resulted in a commitment by FAO to organize a conference on Organic Agriculture and Food Security the following year.
2007: The FAO conference on Organic Agriculture and Food Security was a huge success. It provided a thorough assessment of the state of knowledge on Organic Agriculture and Food Security, including recommendations for research and policy development. The collaboration with FAO significantly raised the profile of IFOAM and organic agriculture. At the EU 13
level, the research platform TP Organics was initiated with the aim to identify research needs for the organic sector and advocate accordingly for priorities in the EU research and innovation policy. Involved are different NGOs, research institutions and organic businesses.
2008: This was the year of several UN reports that will remain important in the organic movement’s advocacy tool kit for some years to come. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report ‘Organic Agriculture and Food Security in Africa’ stated: “the study supports the argument that organic agriculture can be more conducive to food security in Africa than most conventional production systems, and that it is more likely to be sustainable in the long-term.”
2009: The IFOAM President successfully negotiated the inclusion of organic agriculture in the agriculture section of the agreement document adopted at the 17th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD 17) in New York City. Paragraph 6a (iv) of the agreement called for actions at the local, national, regional and global levels in accordance with national priorities and legislations “that enhance agriculture production, productivity and sustainability including as appropriate, support countries to strengthen research in areas of growing market demands, such as organic agriculture.” Climate change and food security were at the top of the global political agenda as response to public interest in global warming and the global food price crisis reached their peak. The IFOAM Executive Director was invited as an expert and panelist at the FAO High Level Expert Forum organized during the World Summit on Food Security in Rome. The meeting was significant as the then FAO Director General stated that “while organic agriculture can contribute to food security, it cannot feed the world on its own”. In the run-up to the now infamous CoP15 in Copenhagen in December, IFOAM prepared a series of three climate change publications as part of its ‘High Sequestration, Low Emission, Food Secure Farming’ campaign, prepared in conjunction wit the IFOAM EU Group and a consortium of IFOAM members. Amongst the chaos of CoP15 the most significant outcome for the organic movement was the establishment of the Round Table on Organic Agriculture and Climate Change (RTOACC) of which IFOAM was a founding member.
2010: IFOAM launched its food security campaign ‘People Before Commodities’ during the reformed Committee on World Food Security (CFS) and celebrated 14
PEOPLEBEFORE COMMODITIES securing a seat at the CFS for its now President. In November 2010 IFOAM co-organized two side events at the Global Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change, in The Hague to challenge the top-down ‘second green revolution based solutions’ proposed by the World Bank and others. The two IFOAM side events and intensive lobbying with partners helped to ensure that the outcome document was more balanced and included Organic Agriculture in its wide-ranging list of recommendations.
In October 2010 at the CoP10 meeting of the Convention on Biodiversity, IFOAM launched its ‘Powered by Nature’ biodiversity campaign where it introduced the concept of ‘ecological intensification’ in conjunction with the Green Foundation of India. In line with agro-ecological concepts, it explained how the intensification of biodiversity and ecosystem functions based on organic knowledge, practices, systems and principles, provides affordable, equitable and resilient solutions for sustainably increasing the performance of small farms and bring degraded land back into fertile not just
production - naturally. In Cancun, Mexico at the UN Climate Change meeting (CoP16) in December IFOAM’s official side event under its ‘Not Just Carbon’ slogan, raised concerns about the impacts on livelihoods and food security of the over emphasis of using carbon accounting as a basis for determining climate policies especially in international processes such as the UNFCCC.
2011: A big year for IFOAM’s work in Africa. The African Union’s Executive Council adopted a decision on organic farming committing the commission to supporting the development of organic agriculture throughout the continent. In June IFOAM organized a side event on resilient livelihoods at the climate negotiations in Bonn, championed by the African Union (AU) and organized in conjunction with the World Food Programme (WFP). Approximately 200 participants from 20 countries attended the international conference on ‘Ecological Organic Agriculture: The Alternative for Africa’ at the UNEP in Nairobi, Kenya. Organized by IFOAM, the African Union, the Kenyan Organic Agriculture Network and
COLABORA, it built awareness of accessible and resilient organic based production systems and positioned organic agriculture higher on the agenda of African governments, policy makers and the international donor community. IFOAM and key African stakeholders met in Kenya to develop the ‘African Ecological Organic Initiative’ and an Action Plan, which aims to mainstream ‘Ecological Organic Agriculture (EOA)’ into national agricultural production systems by 2020 as well to facilitate the integration of organic agriculture into African policies and development agenda, including the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). At the climate summit (CoP17) in December in Durban, South Africa, IFOAM organized two official side events with the Government of Malawi and with the AU and WFP both focused on ecosystem and people-centered approaches to increasing resilience amongst food insecure communities. The most successful piece of organic advocacy at CoP17 however was by the
Patricia Flores, Latin America Coordinator, wants an organic future!
Danish governments. It successfully showcased the world-class ecological science of IFOAM research members and the on-farm practices that underpin the effectiveness of organic agriculture in providing the genetic diversity required to address climate change adaptation and food security. The IFOAM World Board articulated its position on the role of smallholders in organic agriculture. It provides detailed guidance on how smallholder farms and livelihoods can be strengthened by organic agriculture practices and policies.
President of South Africa whose ‘organic speech’ at the High Level Side Event on Climate Smart Agriculture extolled the multiple climate and health benefits of organic agriculture when he went ‘off script’ much to the surprise of the World Bank and FAO who organized the event. It was an added benefit that the guest of honor, the Chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution for Africa, Kofi Annan, was there to hear first hand the President’s wise words! IFOAM’s liaison office organized, under its biodiversity campaign ‘Powered by Nature’, a side event at the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture at FAO in Rome in collaboration with FAO, Bioversity International, FIBL, ICROFS and Swiss and
Family organic agriculture achieved special attention from the Ministries of Agriculture of Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia, through the project ‘Agricultura Familiar Agroecologica en la Comunidad Andina’, implemented by under the coordination of the IFOAM’ Latin America Office and Group (GALCI), in collaboration with IFOAM affiliates from the region. This work will become even more significant in 2014 during the International Year of Family Farming, whose global organizing committee IFOAM is part of. This was also the year that IFOAM took a formal leadership role in a UN process. IFOAM took over the coordination of the Farmers Major Group at UNEP for a two- year fixed term. UNEP is an important advocate of organic agriculture as evidenced in 2011 by the release its highly influential ‘Green Economy 15
Report’, which strongly supports organic agriculture. In December the US Government singled out organic agriculture as essential for the implementation of a green economy during its plenary statement at the Rio+20 negotiations in New York City.
2012: In early 2012 the IFOAM President was a keynote speaker during the round table on food security during the IFAD Governing Council session in early 2012, where IFOAM organized also a side event. In May 2012, over 300 participants from 35 countries attended the Second African Organic Conference ‘Mainstreaming Organic Agriculture in the African Development Agenda’ in Lusaka, Zambia. The conference was organized by the Organic Producers and Processors Association of Zambia (OPPAZ) in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock of Zambia and the African Union. Currently, IFOAM is working with the African Union, the African organic sector, and other development agencies to facilitate the integration of organic agriculture into the core of African policies and development agenda, including the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). In 2012 the first ‘Organic Leadership Course’ was launched by the IFOAM Academy included an advocacy-training module, which links grass roots organic advocacy initiatives with IFOAM. Structures are foreseen where IFOAM’s international advocacy activities and campaigns can be platforms for bringing local and regional grass root issues and campaigns to the global level. In June 2012, after 18 months of engagement in the ‘Rio+20’ process IFOAM returned to Rio for the 2012 United Nation Conference on Sustainable Development. IFOAM was highly active with many events branded under its Rio+20 campaign message ‘The Future We
Markus Arbenz at IFOAM’s official side event at Rio+20 (2012)
Want Is Organic’: • ‘Setting the Post-Rio Knowledge & Science Agenda for Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication’. • ‘Mainstreaming Organic Agriculture as a Means of Implementation’ featuring the European Commission and the USDA. • ‘Organic Agriculture - Locally Driven Solutions to Global Priorities’ featuring the Prime Minster of Bhutan followed by ‘organic green economy’ case studies from IFOAM members from Ethiopia, Brazil and Peru. • ‘Organic Mountain Livelihoods’ featuring organic mountain economy case studies from IFOAM members from Sri Lanka, Bolivia and Peru.
Learnings? So what do we need to do before we return to Rio again in twenty years time for Rio+40? While international recognition is increasing, where change is happening the fastest is on the ground, by millions of farmers, citizens, entrepreneurs and activists who out of conviction, opportunity or necessity are realizing the change day in day out that we advocate for. It is essential that IFOAM’s international advocacy activities better link to the organic movement at the grass roots level. It needs to better communicate the full diversity of organic agriculture based production, distribution, marketing, guarantee and consumption practices, systems and initiatives that make up the global organic movement so that international institutions and governments are left with no doubt of the power, potential and momentum of the organic alternative. Transforming recognition into action on the ground by linking UN agencies, governments and other stakeholders with the organic movement in systematic and innovative ways also needs to be a priority for the next 20 years if the global organic movement is going to more tangibly benefit from international advocacy activities. This need was already evident in 1997, when the Director General of FAO in his comments in recognition of IFOAM’s 25th anniversary called for FAO and IFOAM to work together to “transfer knowledge of agricultural techniques that rely on local resources, including those developed by the organic movement for farmers that may not be able to afford expensive external agricultural inputs such as synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.”
Trust in Quality. Worldwide. We build bridges between regional suppliers and discerning consumers across many languages, cultures and expectations.
Happy birthday and our warmest congratulations to the IFOAM team! IFOAM is the worldwide umbrella organization for the organic movement. For 40 years this network has built links with the people from the organic movement all over the world. By overcoming national borders, IFOAM is a place for visionaries and provides a counterbalance to national authorities. Like IMO, IFOAM bridges ideals and perspectives of different social and cultural groups. Together we are working for a sustainable future.
Proud to be part!
A highly experienced International body for quality assurance of sustainable products.
A Retrospective on the Organic Guarantee System by Joelle Katto-Andrighetto IOAS Board Meeting at BioFach, Germany (1998)
The Organic Value Chain & the Organic Guarantee System
1978 – late 80s: Developing the first international organic standard
A few years after IFOAM’s creation, IFOAM members started working on the development of the first common international set of standards for organic production. 1980 is a historical date with the publication of the first version of the IFOAM Basic Standards. Back then, the technical committee was composed essentially of European members and it grew in size throughout the 80s (until reaching 16 members in 1992!), allowing it to form sub-committees to tackle the many issues necessary to the development of a full standard. The committee worked first on plant production and, after 1984, increasingly on animal production. Working on commonly agreed rules for organic production was an essential piece of IFOAM’s work to build the identity and unity of the organic movement. This was successfully achieved, judging by the extent to which the IFOAM Basic Standards have been used as a main reference in so many countries by both the private sector and the governments.
Late 80s: Creating an international mechanism to evaluate organic certification bodies
With the development of organic certification organizations in many countries, and the emergence of organic trade, appeared the need to establish a mechanism for building trust amongst the various certification bodies. IFOAM‘s Technical Committee, (also responsible for the development of the IFOAM Basic Standard), began to evaluate certification bodies by visiting them and writing reports that were shared amongst the certifiers participating in the system. The system was still relatively informal at the time, with no published criteria and no form of official IFOAM approval of certifiers. Towards the end of the 80ies, the idea of formalizing the process of certifiers’ evaluation by setting up an IFOAM Accreditation program emerged, and the 1990 IFOAM General Assembly approved it. This implied separation of the standard setting and certifiers’ evaluation roles within IFOAM and the technical committee was split into three committees: 1.) a Standard Committee to continue the onStandard Committee field trip in China (2004)
Policing or developing? by Gunnar Rundgren
The IFOAM Organic Guarantee System can – and has been by many - be seen as a tool for policing, controlling the sector under the banner of protecting integrity. While I have been one of the architects of the system (in various roles between 1989 and 2005), I always found the development aspects, capacity building, governance and empowerment more interesting. Most positive was when the OGS itself could be used as a development tool. One example is the development of Group Certification Criteria. Already in the 1994 Accreditation Criteria, there were criteria for Group Certification, which was based on the experience of a few certification bodies. When the US and the EU started to make problems for group certification we could act based on an already agreed position, being active instead of reactive. Through a consultative process, IFOAM gathered private sector and government stakeholders to fine tune the criteria even more and managed to reach more or less global consensus. Ultimately, that consensus was fed back into the IFOAM Criteria. In this way, there was dynamic development, organic development. In the same way, the IFOAM Accreditation Criteria formed the basis for the development of the International Requirements for Organic Certification Bodies, IROCB. They were developed in a project together with FAO and UNCTAD and agreed by numerous stakeholders. That norm could then form the basis for the global harmonisation. In this way, the IFOAM OGS can be a vehicle for development – not an end in itself.
going work of IFOAM Basic Standards development; 2.) a Program Evaluation Committee to continue the work to evaluate certifiers; and 3.) an Accreditation Committee to develop the new IFOAM Accreditation Program, which was going to become the centerpiece of the IFOAM Organic Guarantee System for over two decades. The 90ies: implementing and growing the IFOAM Accreditation Program Setting-up the IFOAM Accreditation Program took a huge amount of work and dedication from ‘certification’
experts (mostly volunteers) involved in IFOAM. The newly established Accreditation Committee met several times and developed the procedures and criteria against which applicant certifiers would be evaluated. As the committee neared completion of its work, the value of the proposed accreditation system was questioned in light of the upcoming EU regulation. This marked the beginning of what was going to become an ever-lasting challenge for IFOAM: keep and increase the relevance of its OGS vis-à-vis the emergence (and later on, increasing power) of organic government regulations. Despite the debates, the 1992 General Assembly decided unanimously that the private sector (through IFOAM) must retain the responsibility for organic integrity and that the Accreditation Program, with its newly developed procedures, should be pursued and implemented. This meant an Accreditation Program based on compliance with the IFOAM Basic Standards and with the criteria for accreditation. This decision was followed by an intensive period of work, with the appointment of an IFOAM Accreditation Program Board replacing the previous committees. This Board added to the previously developed procedures a number of detailed procedures and policies, as well as forms and other documents to be used in the Accreditation Program. To help carry out this work, the Accreditation Program Board appointed a part-time Accreditation Program Executive, Ken Commins. In 1993, the program was ready to receive the first application (KRAV) and by 1994, the program had already accredited 3 certifiers and had several others applicants. Many applications came throughout the 90s from a truly global pool of certifiers. In 1997, the decision was taken to establish a separate legal entity to operate the IFOAM Accreditation Program; the IOAS (International Organic Accreditation Service) was formed as a daughter company of IFOAM. The Accreditation Program Board became the board of this company, and Ken Commins its Executive Director. All existing policies and procedures related to the IFOAM Accreditation Program were adopted by the IOAS. The same people forming the new IOAS Board were however still heavily involved in the IFOAM Accreditation Program Board’s technical work to revise and further develop the IFOAM Accreditation Criteria. Issues related to the separation of functions (such as standard setting/ certification/ advice) were high on the agenda and, logically, the IFOAM World Board appointed a new IFOAM Task Force (independent of the IOAS) to work on future revision of the criteria after 1998. 19
In parallel, and reinforced by its new â€˜bindingâ€™ role in the IFOAM Accreditation Program, the IFOAM Basic Standards underwent continuous development throughout the decade, keeping the Standard Committee busy and taking an increasing space in GA discussions. The committee focused on developing new sections, first processing, and social guidelines, then, towards the end of this period, aquaculture, organic textile and forestry. Many of the proposed requirements on those topics where very detailed and got significantly reduced in subsequent drafts and versions of the IFOAM Basic Standards. GMOs also became a standard issue during this period. All in all, the intensive investment in IFOAM Basic Standards development was very relevant for the period, and the document got translated into 18 languages by IFOAM members.
Accreditation Program was undertaken in 2000. During the following years, the IFOAM Accreditation Program continued to grow until a number of 33 accredited certifiers by 2005. Accompanying this development was the growth of the IOAS as an organization. The IOAS gained staff and external recognition, such as recognition of ISO61 compliance by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology. The IOAS increasingly reached out to governments and national accreditors to establish collaboration, always with the objective of adding value to, and gaining official recognition for IFOAM Accreditation.
and equivalency, aimed at streamlining the approval of products that were traded among their clients.
Comforted by the maturity of its Organic Guarantee System, IFOAM increasingly engaged in OGSrelated technical advocacy work and participation in international processes of technical relevance, such as the Codex Alimentarius organic guidelines, the ISO Committee on Conformity Assessment and ISEAL. IFOAM also commented on the development of major organic regulations, defending the rights and role of the private sector.
During the same period, IFOAM put quite some thoughts into clarifying and improving the relationship and complementarity between the IFOAM Basic Standards and the Accreditation Criteria, and their The idea of an IFOAM Seal linked to respective revision procedures. the IFOAM Accreditation Program The OGS management structures had been around since 1990, but evolved to reflect this need of overall revealed to be a controversial one coordination, with the creation Management Committee Meeting, Bonn and it took until 1998 to make it Norms of an overarching committee, the (2006) reality. Norms Management Committee, to ensure coordination of the Standard Committee The IFOAM Accreditation Program found relevance and Criteria Committee. The IFOAM Basic Standards within the private sector, which culminated in 1999 and the Criteria became one joint publication known with the signature by the IFOAM Accredited Certifiers as the IFOAM Norms. of a Multilateral Agreement for mutual recognition
As the IFOAM Accreditation Program was gaining in strength, IFOAM shaped a vision of its potential to promote global harmonization and retain key elements of integrity building within the private sector. The message was that governments should focus on enforcement and preferably leave the leadership in standard development and accreditation to the private sector: they should refer to the IFOAM Basic Standards and recognize the services of the IOAS. Still, this message got very little uptake from governments that always found technical objections or formal/ administrative obstacles to the recognition of the IFOAM Accreditation Program. Although quite some energy was spent by IFOAM and the IOAS to seek to address those technical objections, the main challenge remained a political one, still to be tackled today.
Early 2000s: Reaching out to broaden the OGS influence A complete overhaul of the procedures of the 20
This period also marks the development of what was going to become THE biggest political concern of IFOAM in view of the growing number of government regulations: the need for harmonization and equivalence. Given the high diversity of standards in the private sector itself, the idea of strict standard compliance starts to appear as too rigid. In 2000, the General Assembly takes a significant decision to set up a procedure for IFOAM itself to approve other standards. Although this was a break-through in terms of developing an embryo of the equivalence idea, and the seed of what was going to become the IFOAM Family of Standards, it took a long time for IFOAM to develop the
Participatory Guarantee Systems Participatory Guarantee Systems have a history longer than IFOAM, since this was the way that certification started in the early days (70s). Some of those participatory certification systems ‘survived’ to the general trend towards ‘third-parti-zation’ of the certification system, while other initiatives emerged as a deliberate attempt to re-introduce participation at the core of the guarantee. Those initiatives described themselves as ‘Alternative Certification’ until 2004, when the concept ‘Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS)’ was agreed upon during an International Workshop supported by IFOAM. This was the start of IFOAM’s involvement in promoting the development of PGS, which continues today. Major milestones, after the 2004 publication of the ‘Shared Vision, Shared Ideals’ PGS concept document, were the definition of PGS in 2008, the establishment of the PGS SelfEvaluation Tool with its ‘important characteristics’ in the same year, the launch of the monthly Global PGS Newsletter in 2009 and the publication of the IFOAM Policy Brief on ‘How Governments can Support PGS’ in 2011.
of the IFOAM Accreditation Program, its limited uptake as compared to the overall number of organic certifiers, its difficulty to obtain governmental recognition and its incapacity to contribute significantly to a global simplification of organic trade. Starting in 2002, the IFOAM World Board explored a number of scenarios for a possible revised OGS, and this became a difficult technical and political controversy that lasted until 2010. The OGS revision drained much of IFOAM’s energy during the period, and as a result, the IFOAM Norms development stagnated for many years, for the first time since the creation of the IFOAM Basic Standards. Although the OGS matters, strictly speaking, did not make progress during the period, IFOAM became increasingly active in two related areas: the promotion of the Harmonization and Equivalence objectives towards governments (with the ITF and then GOMA projects) and the support to Participatory Guarantee Systems.
Since 2010: launching and promoting the new OGS
In July 2010, the IFOAM membership finally approved a new OGS, of which the IFOAM Family ‘criteria for variations’ of Standards is the and the procedures core element, and to make this possible. IFOAM focused its Hence the approval energy on launching of standards did not this (not so new, but really take on during improved) concept and the period. The idea of assessing a number using the IFOAM Basic of standards against Standards as the basis a new IFOAM Norm: for approval of other the IFOAM Standards standards raised the Requirements – question of whether Common Objectives the document should and Requirements be designed as the Standards Committee meeting in Korea (2011) for Organic Standards minimum bar or as a (COROS). A new IFOAM standard was developed based best practice with allowance for variations. This was on the former IFOAM Basic Standards, and the IOAS going to become a core dilemma of the OGS revision opened up a new accreditation: the IFOAM Global in the next period. Harmonization was still a much Organic System Accreditation, linked to the concept more easily conceivable concept than equivalence, of equivalence as materialized by the IFOAM Family of and IFOAM started to approach donors with the idea Standards. The long-discussed idea of an IFOAM global of supporting international harmonization. These organic mark is now included in the new OGS. We have efforts became successful with the approval of two therefore entered a new OGS era and only time will harmonization projects in the following decade. tell which elements of it will significantly support the 2000 – 2010: The OGS revision growth of the organic movement and which ones will need future revisions. IFOAM started to realize the stagnation in the growth
Programs that Advance the Organic Vision by Konrad Hauptfleisch CFC project in China (2008)
The IFOAM Program Pillar could be seen as the spade in the soils of the organic movement worldwide.
Global NGOs or civil society movements impact and drive their vision in many ways: through their membership support, through advocacy and lobbying, through meetings and activities and the like.
One of the most visible is the program or project. By developing relevant project proposals, creating effective and beneficial regional and local partnerships, and supporting activities at grassroots level, IFOAM Programs can make a significant impact on the development of organic agriculture systems worldwide. Through a myriad of projects, IFOAM develops tools for
OSEA II PGS farms visit
PGS farms visit
training organic farmers, producer groups, inspectors and others, supports the participation of people and organizations from developing countries on IFOAM committees and internal bodies and events, and is harmonizing international trade in organic products. IFOAM has been involved in a number of successful projects over the course of its history, and the impact of some of these projects will be felt well into the future. There is the principle of project work and the rationale for getting involved in the world of con-
cept notes, proposals and funding, but then there is also the output, the activity and the spadework of projects: on the ground, with people, making a difference. IFOAM‘s Program Department has become effective in identifying future program activity. We have become good at conceptualizing and developing, and have a proven track record of governance and oversight in Programs. We are recognized as a good, credible and transparent partner, and we are efficient and effective in managing and reporting on the projects we have a stake in. But all of this, the ‘meta’-world of projects, the back-room concepts and SWOT analyses, can come to nought if the activities lead to nought, and the spadework leaves the soil turned, but seeds dormant.
CFC project in China (2008)
I believe that IFOAM has succeeded over the years in the implementation of projects that do not only tick the boxes of the proposal documents, but have left behind a real legacy of development and systems for operators and communities to move the agenda of Organic Agriculture forward. I would like to touch on a few definitive programs before concluding by looking into the future of the Programs Department and its supporting role for IFOAM and the organic world. The I-GO (IFOAM Growing Organic, 2002-2005) and I-GO II (2005-2009) projects: most significant outcomes: • The creation, formalization and dissemination of the concept of PGS, • The development and dissemination of the Prin-
ciples of Organic Agriculture, • The IFOAM series of IFOAM training manuals such as on organic agriculture in the tropics and ICS for group certification, resources which are still widely used today by trainers across the globe, • The effective participation of developing country representatives in all IFOAM structures (Committees, etc) and major events (OWC), resulting in an always regionally balanced democratically elected IFOAM World Board, • On-going support to the African organic stakeholders, resulting in the existence of a number of National Organic Agriculture Movements in Africa today. The OSEA project (2006-2007) and the IFAD Pacific Project (2006-2008), resulting each in the development and adoption of regional organic standards through publicprivate partnerships, and the first regional standard in existence after the EU one. In the final analysis, projects are not paper. They are the intent of a donor, concretized in the activity of the implementer, and the outcome is the positive impact on the life of the beneficiary. And in our definition, this beneficiary is our planet and its people in its full, bio-diverse manifestation. The IFOAM Programs pillar hopes to contribute to this ideal for 40 more years, and for many decades beyond that.
CFC project in China (2008)
Two Years Old, Decades in the Making by Konrad Hauptfleisch Konrad Hauptfleisch, Academy Manager (2012)
The Organic Academy
This 40-year anniversary publication is a celebration, an overview and a reminiscing tome - but one pillar of the IFOAM Parthenon is not yet two years old: The IFOAM Academy.
Thus, when writing about the Academy, we have no history to look back on, only a future. But nothing comes from nothing, and the seeds of this Academy could be found in the activity and dedication of individuals and intitiatives that carried and nurtured the concepts of education and training in this organisation for the last 4 decades. We stand on the shoulders of giants, and our ability to touch the clouds and see the future is thanks to this elevated position. Pioneers from all the corners of the
Organic Leadership Course South East Asia (2012)
organic world were multi-tasking, tireless protagonists who took on an often antagonistic or ignorant world, and changed the way people farmed, lived and ate. This, was an act of love and dedication, but it was also a labour of awareness-creation and education. Information, education and illumination. Rudolf Steinerâ€˜s agriculture course is one of the first sets of lectures and lessons that were created by the pioneer himself. It has moved on well beyond Biodynamic Agriculture, and has become the inspiration of many who followed. But it is not just handbooks and lectures that train, grow and develop new apologists and practitioners: writings like The One Straw Revolution or The Silent Spring are hardly agriculture handbooks, but they did and still do inspire generations of organic farmers, advocates, trainers and traders. Training and education is like a good curry, it combines a bewildering mixture of ingredients into an inpiring whole. Action, theory, reflection. Skills, knowledge, attitude. Perspiration, dedication and inspiration. These are the ingredients of the Academy, like they were the
Organic Leadership Courses Following the Organic Leadership Course (OLC) in India in 2012, IFOAM is running two further courses in 2013. These courses will take place in North America and India, respectively. Both courses’ medium of instruction will be English, but we are in the process of developing the Leadership Course for Latin America, which would be conducted in Spanish. Dates: •
North America Leadership Course: February to September 2013
South Asia Leadership Course: March to November 2013
Both courses entail two full-time residential modules of 10 and 6 days each and a part-time e-learning phase that includes 10 webinars.
Organic Leadership Course South East Asia 2012 course participants
characteristics of the pioneers who set us on this path. In the short history of the Academy I saw our Leadership Program stimulate a new vision amongst emerging leaders. I saw the participants of our South Asisan course sitting around Bhaskar Save, organic pioneer and One World Award recipient. I saw them listen, absorb, question and debate. Days later, I saw the same group of students come into their own when they sat down with Indian farmers on the sands of Bordi Beach. They shared, suggested, listened and learnt. They learnt from farmers who saw their livelihoods destroyed and their neighbours commit suicide because of their indebtedness and agribusiness shackles. They shared their experiences from Vietnam to the
Phillipines. From Sri Lanka to Nepal. From Bhutan to Bangalore. They brought suggestions to the Indian farmers and took home inspiration. What I experienced on the beach at Bordi and in Bhaskar Save‘s food forest in Gujurat was real, inspirational training - an enlightening journey to enrich the lives of not just the trainees, but hopefully everyone they would interact with in their future. And this brings me back to the rationale of writing about such a young intitiative in a publication dealing with the history of an organization. While this Academy is new, education is not. While the IFOAM Leadership Course is one year old, the concept of nurturing nurturing and inspiring new leaders precedes even the founding of IFOAM 40 years ago. The Academy was preceded by the IFOAM Training Platform: a resource base of information and training, on-line and published training manuals, and a network of trainers and experts representing the organic world in its diversity. The Training Platform is still there, but it is hoped that it would find its home under the roof of the Academy, and that the leaders of our organic future find their inspiration in the virtual hallways of its campus. The IFOAM Academy webpage has the following headline: ‘Cultivating Organic Leadership’. This is not a slick, expedient pay-off line thought up by the Communication Department - it is a vision of our organic future. Our main aim is exactly that: Growing and nurturing a new crop of leaders to take Organic Agriculture, and the planet, from a damaged present through a regenerative 21st century into a sustainable future.
Organic Leadership Course South East Asia 2012: outdoors workshop session
Growing with our Affiliates by Thomas Cierpka
Organic without Boundaries: IFOAM’s Action Network
Discussions around the potential value of IFOAM’s regionalization began during the General Assembly in São Paulo in 1992. With the support of Hivos, a so-called ‘Third World Working Group’ developed a concept for support for self-organized structures, which translated into the ‘Organic Agriculture until 1999, ‘Organic Agriculture until 2002’ and ‘IFOAM Growing Organic’ (2001) projects.
The early attempts to set up coordination points in anglophone and francophone Africa unfortunately failed, but paved the way for the creation of what is today the IFOAM Africa Office. The start of a Latin American regional group in the 90ies failed, but brought to life MAELA, a network of and for smallscale farmers, regardless of whether they were organic or not. GALCI was finally created in 2001 to represent Latin America and the Caribbean as a region. Founded in 1990, AgriBioMediterraneo, a regional group that currently includes 146 IFOAM Affiliates from 16 mediterranean countries, developed autonomously, without any donor support, as did the IFOAM groups for the Central and East European countries (CEE), the German speaking countries (DACHLUX) and the European Union. The latter, established in 1993, had, from the beginning, very clearly defined objective: EUspecific lobby work, targeting the European Commission. IFOAM Japan developed around the representation of IFOAM at the global BioFach fairs in Japan. IFOAM France (Asafi) emerged from the regular meetings
IFOAM Japan at BioFach Japan (2007)
IFOAM‘s Action Network
some administrative synergies are offered, for instance joint invoicing and the use of a common database.
The IFOAM Network The IFOAM Action Group
IFOAM‘s Advocacy Targets
• The IFOAM EU Group has its own office and a team of professionals in Brussels, Belgium;
Global IFOAM IFOAM Regional Bodies
Affiliates General Assembly
IFOAM Sector Platforms
• IFOAM AgriBioMediterraneo has its permanent secretariat in Bari, Italy;
Committees & Task Forces
IFOAM‘s Friends & Allies
IFOAM Daughter Organizations
Self-organized IFOAM Structures
that French Affiliates were having in the context of EUspecific issues being debated. In addition, sector groups developed around specific themes. These included Aquaculture, Consultants, Traders, Retailers and Farmers. In 2011, the IFOAM General Assembly in Korea approved a new policy for these self-organized structures, promoting a more proactive approach to the establishment of Self-organized Structures (SoS) - all of them part of the broader ‘Action Network’ and increased strategic communication between these structures and the Head Office. In addition
The following Regional Bodies are currently part of the Action Group:
IFOAM‘s Service Providers
• IFOAM LatinAmerica (formerly GALCI) is based in Argentina and is supported by a regional coordinator, Patricia Flores;
Two national groups, created before this strategic revision IFOAM Network in 2011, continue operating: IFOAM Japan has a coordinator and office in Tokyo, Japan and IFOAM France (formerly AsAFI) has a coordinator located in Paris, France. Current Sector Platforms are IFOAM Aquaculture, (with coordination points in Germany and USA); the IFOAM Organic Trade Forum (coordinated from Sweden); the International Network of Organic Farmers Organizations (INOFO), its Secretary based in France and a worldwide council of Conveners; and the recently approved IFOAM Amenity Agriculture Alliance (AAA), coordinated from China.
The dynamic development of the SoS since October 2011 is visible through the number of initiatives applying for World Board approval in November 2012: IFOAM Asia, IFOAM Animal Husbandry Alliance and the Technology Innovation Platform of IFOAM (TIPI) as research network. In addition, there is an initiative under way to create IFOAM Middle East. At a very initial level the establishment of IFOAM North America, IFOAM Southern Africa and IFOAM Oceania is being discussed. IFOAM EU Group staff with Gobal IFOAM staff at the IFOAM Head Office in Bonn, Germany (2011) 27
Organic without Boundaries by Denise Godinho
Introduction In February of this year, IFOAM launched its blog ‘Organic without Boundaries - A Journey to Sustainable Livelihoods‘ alongside of an invitation to all IFOAM Affiliates and members of our broader network to submit stories of their journeys towards sustainable livelihoods.
A Journey to Sustainable Livelihoods
A sky lantern was chosen to symbolize the imagined journey of the lantern released into the skies just outside of IFOAM’s Head Office on February 10, 2012. Many of the contributors played along with us, keeping this leitmotif alive by repeating and documenting the ritual of releasing their own sky lantern. On the right you see a snapshot of We thank Lebensbaum some pretty fun moments around the world!
At the launch of the blog, the Rio+20 Earth Summit loomed large and tinged the tone of the early contributions to the blog with the expectation, hope, reservations and elation that an event of that magnitude evokes.
and Artebio for their sponsorship of the blog
Yet Rio+20 came and went, and submissions continue to come in. As this publication goes into print, close to 40 submissions have been made. Some of them are very personal, almost intimate accounts of what sustainable livelihood means to the author. Others address challenges faced in specific regions, while yet others are advocacy pieces, calling for the mainstreaming of organic agriculture. But no matter what the content or mood of these contributions, they all capture the passion with which people, around the world, strive to positively contribute to a more sustainable world. They also highlight the beauty of global diversity, so clearly perceptible in IFOAM’s membership, and underpins the thought that, regardless of geographic, cultural or other differences, a shared dream can truly bring people together. So, the name of the blog could not have been better chosen to reflect the global and inclusive nature of organic. Organic, truly, knows no boundaries. On the next pages we share with you some of the stories of sustainable livelihoods. We are unable to reproduce them all here, but you can find them on www.ifoam.org/ organicwithoutboundaries We hope you enjoy this short trip around the world of organic.
IFOAM EU Goes Rio +20! by IFOAM EU Group (Belgium) Happy birthday, IFOAM! IFOAM EU is proud of its mother for her 40 years of uniting, assisting and leading the organic movement! One just has to be present in one of IFOAM’s events to experience how many people from all over the world IFOAM brings together – in their common objective towards the worldwide adoption of ecologically, socially and economically sound systems that are based on the principles of Organic Agriculture. There is a lot of energy, ideas, commitment, enthusiasm and positive thinking to be found in such gatherings! Thank you IFOAM for making the organic movement strong by uniting it! IFOAM EU is proud to be supporting IFOAM in Europe. For almost nine years now IFOAM EU has had its own office in Brussels, Europe’s policy-making capital. From here we represent the European members of IFOAM. Again, it is about the connectivity with people, if you want your work to make a difference. IFOAM EU can draw on an extensive network covering the European Commission, Parliament, Council and civil society organisations. We are recognised as the leading advocacy group for organic food and farming on the EU political scene and we are also represented on a number of European Commission committees, including DG Agriculture and DG Health and Consumers advisory groups. Even though our focus lies on Europe, the working areas of IFOAM EU do of course reach into the rest of the world. This can be illustrated by one of the working topics of IFOAM EU: the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The CAP and rural development are crucial to shaping farming, food production and the rural economy. The current cycle of the CAP is due to end in 2013 and discussions are now under way to reform the policy for the period 2014 to 2020. The IFOAM EU Group firmly believes that the current CAP needs a fundamental reform to proactively respond to the current environmental challenges we face, ensure the future supply of high-quality food through sustainable resource use and play a decisive role in realising equitable socioeconomic development across rural communities. IFOAM EU draws on its networks within the EU institutions to influence some of the hot issues on the political agenda and it can be considered as a 30
landmark that the 2011 legislative proposals of the European Commission for the reform of the CAP included organic food and farming. Our world appears so small at times: with this blog IFOAM connects people and organisations from all over the world. IFOAM EU uses this opportunity to extend its greetings from Brussels to all its organic friends and alliances – be they in Bonn, Rio or anywhere else in the world. We hope that the participants in Rio+20 will also draw on their networks to push for sustainable development.
Better together by Helen Browning, Soil Association (England) I was delighted to be asked to contribute to IFOAMâ€™s 40th anniversary blog, as the Soil Association has been an enthusiastic member and supporter of IFOAM for many years. At the heart of the organic philosophy is a recognition that all things are linked parts of a larger whole, but we must be mindful of this, and act to make sure that we keep our links healthy â€“ we can achieve very little acting alone. Our work with IFOAM allows us to share and learn from many other groups, and we ignore this knowledge at our own peril. And this idea of working with others is absolutely crucial to the success of Rio+20 if we are to develop workable solutions to the global threats of climate change and future resource constraints. Over the last 65 years The Soil Association has endeavoured to bring the organic principles of care, ecology, fairness and health, into a world seemingly determined to ignore these values. As we know, there is only one planet with finite resources to provide for the needs of our growing world population, and we must find ways of meeting our needs while not compromising the prospects of future generations. For us, that starts with the soil, that fragile vital layer of living material which sustains and recycles all life. Building healthy soil is the most reliable way to ensure we produce enough good food for
everyone, while minimising non-renewable inputs and increasing resilience in the face of climate change and a resource-constrained future. But the future is about people too. We will always campaign for human scale activity, meaningful and varied employment, family farms and businesses, grassroots and community enterprise, and business models that allow for an ethical focus. We need solutions that balance the needs of all: society, consumers, business, the natural environment and farm animals, both in the UK and globally. We work with those businesses and community initiatives which are putting organic principles into practice. We help policy makers both with pragmatic next steps and with adjusting the economic and legal framework to ensure that the right incentives are in place to encourage best practice to become the norm, not the exception. As we move towards an uncertain future we need innovation in our farming practice, and innovation in our economic structures, and we need to bring bring all perspectives around the table, to find the best ways of meeting our aspirations to develop healthy, humane and sustainble food, farming and production systems across the globe. The Soil Association is working towards these goals in the UK, and we urge everyone across the world to get involved with the goal of making sustainable livelihoods and development the goal of Rio+20.
New Thracian Gold by Martien Lankester, Avalon (Netherlands) Last year Betty Vassilievi, farmer in the village of Gorno Pole in the Eastern Rhodopi Mountains of Bulgaria, announced that she and her husband Nikki planned to expand their bed and breakfast facilities to four rooms, a dining room and a kitchen. “We have also broadened our activity programme for the tourists with horse riding, nature walks and boat trips. Another important aspect of our sustainable B&B is that we grow our own organic food and maintain a herd of Rhodope Shorthorn cattle.” Three years ago the New Thracian Gold project started in the beautiful Eastern Rhodopes with its high nature values and up to then rather limited economic opportunities. The foundations Ark (nature management ) and Avalon (organic farming) are supporting the local population with the: • Reintroduction of local endangered grazers to preserve the characteristic half-open landscapes, precondition for a wide variety of wild flora and fauna; • Development of organic farming, beneficial to the preservation of the natural landscape, while at the same time providing a better margin for the farmers and attracting tourists to the region; • Support for sustainable tourist activities, aiming at the group of tourists who like rugged surroundings, stunning nature and a good organic meal. Within a couple of years this approach will start to prove its value. Young couples like Betty and Nikki have found an alternative way to add to their income as farmers. As a result they will be less tempted to move to the city (with possible uncertain economic perspectives), and will continue their extensive farming practices, which in turn are essential for the preservation of this unique mountain area. The downward spiral of depopulation, land abandonment, forest encroachment and decrease of biodiversity can be reversed. After a number of years the region will be able to sustain itself through this new economic concept where organic farming, nature conservation and sustainable tourism work in synergy to the benefit of its inhabitants and the local economy. In the region where the Thracians used to forge their beautiful golden jewelry many centuries ago, now seeds of a different but sustainable prosperity are being sown. In developing economies all over the world there are 32
regions where agricultural production is limited and nature values are high. In many of these regions similar concepts can be developed. Avalon has been an active member of IFOAM since its establishment in 1991. It services a network of 180 organisations in over thirty countries. With these partners it has implemented over a hundred small and large projects on the cutting edge of organic farming and nature conservation. Avalon strongly believes that new alliances need to be forged to further strengthen the organic movement. It wants to contribute to a real paradigm shift on food and agriculture both in policy and practice. Alliances where values converge can contribute to this paradigm shift. Organisations for nature conservation, biodiversity, health, food security, environment, climate solutions, animal rights, slow/ local/urban food, fair trade and gender issues are all logical potential allies. In this light organic farming is not a goal in itself, but will prove to be an important instrument towards this much needed multi-value paradigm shift.
The Change Begins Within by Branko Cicic, Serbian Organic Foundation (Serbia) “Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy s life.” (RIO 2012 Briefs on Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture). For the world to provide ‘food security for all people and at all times’ and achieve sustainable agriculture globally, we need to address and foster the core of human creativity - the intelligence which lies within every human being individually and the whole of the society collectively. This intelligence is the source of every thought that translates itself into activity, into the structure and dynamics of every societal organization, of every human endeavor and of every economic and political system. Order or disorder within will ultimately determine the order or disorder in the phenomenal world of man, leading either to evolution, growth, accomplishment and fulfillment, or, if internal disorder prevails, which is the case today globally, to conflicts, problems, “Our message hunger, disease and suffering. The world will to the organic never enjoy the permanent community: state of ‘food security and Change Begins sustainable agriculture’ Within.” unless the state of selfreferral intelligence, the state of absolute order, and the state of infinite creativity, is established and utilized regularly by the human mind through the available and scientifically proven technologies for the development of individual and collective consciousness.
I am Organic. by Brendan Hoare (New Zealand) I am organic. It is how I live, make decisions, eat, raise my family, create my livelihood and visualise the future. Organic is my culture. I am passionate about the mountain ‘Pukematekeo’ that I am enveloped by, and springs that feed the streams that soften the land that nurtures me and my family. I am intimate with these details, and give thanks to the simple pleasures I am gifted. By having an attitude of gratitude, I find I am open to learning. I protect these gifts and share the knowledge, practice and intelligence of my culture when asked. My children learn by doing. Organic is being human. It joins me with others irrespective of their race, creed or language. The roots of our practices that binds us is like jazz; collective, spontaneous improvisation. Deep Organics is not complicated, nor is its essence found in rules and regulations, but I acknowledge these constructs as symptoms of human frailty. I am not afraid of these; I see them for what they are and am happy to work with them. Being Organic, I am part of the mosaic of life. I love the ‘big picture’, being part of the raising of human consciousness. My focus however is always based on the daily rhythms of our family farm, gardens and the food on our table shared with family and friends. Organics is a simple, gentle life that keeps me humble. IFOAM is the home of the global family of Organics. Like those before me I am proud to work to make the home strong and more hospitable. I cherish the knowledge openly shared by others. I trust as you do in me that we strive to make the world an Organic one. This gives me courage. Leadership serves. I was on the World Board (200508), chair of the nomination committee for the 2011 elections and worked on GOMA. I am currently a Board member of BioGro (IFOAM accredited member) on the IFOAM Standards Requirements Committee and actively participate in the Sustainable Organic Agriculture Action Network (SOAAN). 33
Sowing the Seeds of Change by Güneşin Aydemir, Bugday (Turkey) Certified organic farming in Turkey started in 1984. Organic production began with regulation based on European standards and demand from abroad.
Almost the full amount of ecological goods produced is exported, although, thanks to the efforts of Bugday, the domestic demand and consumption is increasing. Ever since its foundation in 1991, Bugday has been supporting ecological, local and fair food production and responsible consumption by implementing model projects and creating awareness. The basis of the ecological farmers network in Anatolia was set up with the TaTuTa Project (agro-ecotourism) initiated by Bugday in order to share the experiences and knowledge about ecological living. The focus of all this work was to popularize organic production and to remove obstacles that prevent the public from having access to them. At this period, the idea of ecological public markets was the only solution to create internal organic markets. Turkey’s first 100% ecological farmers’ market was set up in Şisli, Istanbul, through the leadership and coordination of the Bugday Association in 2006. With only 20 stalls at the beginning, in five years, the number of stalls has gone up to 200. Today, the number of markets increased to six in Istanbul. Diverse Ecological markets have been set up in Izmir, Samsun, Antalya, Bursa and Ankara. 34
In its efforts to create awareness about organic and ecological food, Bugday works closely with the national media, writing and sending press releases on a weekly basis. Bugday is also one of the few associations that has created its own communication channels - the quarterly Ecological Life Guide, weekly newsletter and its website,
constantly promoting ecological food and living. Now we are in a ‘new’ period. Small farmers’ lives are not easier but there are more people who understand them. The return from city to village has begun, there are a few and small countryside living places where urbanites lives. Local seeds are sown, harvested and shared in these fields. Topics like traditional agriculture, permaculture, ecological living are increasingly of interest to more and more people, knowledge about self-sufficient agriculture and harmonious living with nature is gaining momentum. The IFOAM Organic World Congress that will be held in Istanbul in 2014 (www. owc2014.org), organized by Bugday, will be the occasion to share with representatives of the world’s organic movement, experiences and know-how to pursue the goal of sowing seeds for change: “We hope that all disasters and disorders on this planet will take us out of the darkness of the age of eco-ignorance. Solutions are coming out, not only through gatherings like Rio+20 or organic farming, but also through the ecological transformation on consciousness of the human being. And organic farming is a perfect tool to reach this state of high consciousness.”
More Than Money by Edith van Walsum, ILEIA (Netherlands) A few years ago I had a series of interesting discussions with small-scale farm families in South India who had shifted from conventional to organic cotton production. I asked them what the most significant changes were which they had experienced. There were some remarkable answers. One woman farmer said: “Since the pesticides have left our house we can sleep peacefully. There is no more harassment from the pesticides dealer who comes in the night to collect his money.” Another woman explained: “Now that the cotton is grown organically, we can intercrop it with sorghum and vegetables for home consumption. Finally we can eat our own vegetables”. A farm labourer calculated that by working on an organic cotton farm she would spend Rs 3,000 less per year on hospital bills, and would earn 10 ‘extra’ days of income because she did not fall sick any more due to over-exposure to pesticides. These women told in very concrete terms what sustainable farming means to them: it is about human dignity and peace of mind, about growing and eating your own food, and about healthy working conditions. And of course it is about earning a reasonable income, as the male farmers emphasised. The shift from non-sustainable to sustainable farming can literally mean the difference between misery and a decent life.
The ILEIA team wants recognition for smallscale farmers.
Sustainable family farming is not only the way forward to these Indian cotton farmers, it is a possible future for 400 million small-scale farmers – and it is essential for the future of our planet. By facilitating the exchange of concrete experiences world wide, ILEIA and its AgriCultures Network partners in Latin America, Africa and Asia have contributed to an increased awareness and conviction, at local and global levels, that sustainable family farming is part of the solution (we use the word ‘sustainable’ as we want to include all forms of agriculture that respect people and nature, even though they may not be strictly organic). Over the past decades we have collected, published and shared several thousands of experiences, and the body of knowledge on sustainable farming continues to grow every day. It forms a living testimony of the wisdom and resilience of family farmers around the world. Our key message to Rio therefore is: Sustainable family farming deserves recognition. While many policymakers still believe that family farming is inefficient and something of the past, things are beginning to change. There is a growing consensus among farmers’ and civil society organizations and among scientists and influential actors within the UN institutions that sustainable family farming means better livelihoods for millions of people in the rural areas, and is also key to the future of the planet. The paradigm shift that has been called for is on its way as many millions of farmers are already practising and developing sustainable methods every day. But it needs to be completed and there are major obstacles to be removed. IFOAM plays a very important role in this process of building a growing and inclusive organic+ movement. Let’s join forces on the way to Rio, and beyond.
La Esperancita Dies Last by Gerd Schnepel, Sano y Salvo (Nicaragua) I heard it 1980 at the Brussels 3rd IFOAM Scientific Conference “The Maintenance of Soil Fertility”, and now, 32 years later, at the Rapunzel-IFOAM One World Award, we saw our beloved Profesora Ana Primavesi, whose whole life was dedicated to that topic; she is one of the great teachers and investigators in soil fertility. In the end, all social, cultural, philosophical and human dimensions of organic agriculture are about fertile soils for everybody everywhere and for a very long time to come. 1982. I wanted to bring different dreams together: working in the field of organic agriculture and doing it in a revolutionary country: Nicaragua! But it was no ‘bioland’, so Elba Rivera and I had to found it — and so we did! 1985. La Esperanzita became member of IFOAM, our campesino school of eco-agriculture in the humid tropics. Visitors from abroad questioned our work, asking if it was justified to ‘go bio’ for European customers, when the Nicaraguan peo-
ple was hungry. But we explained that European meals were way down on our priority list. Our aim was to rescue and improve soil fertility in a region that had been a rainforest only 15 years before, and where the degradation of soils had already begun. We discovered soon that ecological agroforestry was the answer to the forest vocation of humid tropics. 1998. The farmers organized their own association - Sano y Salvo (Safe and Sound), which became member of IFOAM. And we are proud to be with IFOAM in its 40th year. We are part of the biggest worldwide democratic member organization (after UN, maybe…)! But there is a sad side, too: Nicaragua has now about 7.000 organic farmers, and not 400.000! It has two members of IFOAM, and not 200. The economy lives off gold export, on palm oil export, on work force export, off jungle trees export and of cattle. It doesn’t live off ecological agroforestry, or on all the immense possibilities connected to it. Forests are becoming smaller and smaller each year, water resources are contaminated, many dry up for long periods, and climate change starts to be felt. Agrochemical imports go up. GMOs enter uncontrolled. Has it been our deficiency? IFOAM's? Or is it just inevitable? Even the revolution has died and doesn’t act as it should. Rio+20 did not leave a visible impact in peoples' minds or plans. Market and business make the rules. But, of course, la esperancita dies last …
A greener and more inclusive agricultural sector by Willy Douma, Hivos (Netherlands) Starting this week Dutch Prime Minister Rutte and the governing parties are engaged in a new round of discussions on how to reduce the budget deficit to an acceptable level. The economic crisis is hitting the Netherlands hard and the politicians aim to cut back on a wide range of programs and services, including development aid. Unfortunately there is no sign of interest to not only reduce expenditures but to also look at possible solutions that take sustainability as a starting point. Why not use the crisis to change Dutch policies and ensure that we respect the planetary boundaries and include peopleâ€™s well being all over the world?
acknowledgment of the positive impacts of resilient agricultural practices on people and environment. There is for instance no sign they will cut back on subsidies for fuel based fertilizers or chemicals. But luckily there are a number of Southern governments making moves that willt impresse the world, including the Dutch. So, If the Dutch Prime Minister Rutteâ€“ probably empty handed â€“ decides to travel to Rio this might inspire him to include a longer term perspective when cutting in his budget. The farmers around the world that have developed such successful resilient agricultural practices deserve it.
Can Rio+20 play a role in motivating politicians like those in the Netherlands to look beyond their own backyard and open the door for necessary transformations in for instance the agricultural sector? The green revolution has been for years the mantra of agricultural ministers and presented as the solution. We are now witnissing the unintended results. More farmers than ever before are faced with serious debts leading to an alarming number of suicides. And how do we explain an increase in hunger around the world and especiallly in rural areas where food is produced? We must have taken a wrong road somewhere. Over the last 20 years Hivos worked with farmers and their organisations around the world to come up with solutions for a real green agricultural sector that enables farmers to have a decent life. Their insights and experiences show that practices that take biodiversity serious offer not only a lot to the men and women farmers themselves but also to the world at large. Data shows that such practices like low external input, organic farming or agroforestry are able to produce enough to feed the world also in times of climate change and growing population. There are many advantages that Hivos witnessed in the fields but only writing about them will hardly impress someone. These positive experiences have developed on their own, without a lot of support from the government. What if governments would change their policies, become really green and help these islands of succes to become oceans of change? I am not very hopeful about the Dutch politicians. There is little 37
A guiding light by Matthew Holmes, Organic Trade Association (Canada) September 2012 will mark the 50th anniversary of Rachel Carson’s landmark book Silent Spring. In many respects, this book launched what is considered the modern environmental movement in North America. It was a catalyst to major changes in regulation, the government’s role in public and environmental health, and in many ways announced the birth, in earnest, of today’s organic community. Pause and think a moment of this woman who made such fundamental change as a contrarian amidst the feverishly innovative and entrepreneurial post-war era, when the miracle of chemistry was being integrated into everyday life. She was in many respects a solitary voice, an outsider by her gender and strong conviction, and a questioner of how sustainable our decisions to date had been. At the time of Silent Spring, we were on a long road to sickness: companies were advertising the uses of DDT to protect crops, livestock and even babies. Dairy cows and their feed were sprayed with the toxic compound. Children frolicked in the plumes of community spray-trucks. Families were sold DDT-laced wallpaper for their newborn’s bedroom to protect them from ‘pests’. Today, some of our food is being impregnated at the genetic level similar pesticides— still “miracles” of science to save us from vague threats, and still questionable in their necessity or long-term sustainability. This fall will also mark the 40th year of IFOAM, when a community came together of those who were unconvinced that chemical death-agents could sustain our life on the planet. These individuals helped shape the vision of an alternative system of organic agriculture and values, and how it could be practiced in nations all around the world. Then, 20 years ago, we took a sobering moment in Rio to question what the future of our toxic and warming world might look like, and to try to shift it, collectively, to a more sustainable future. And then we returned again this year, with many great achievements to celebrate, but the conviction that more has to be done to truly make a difference. 38
Matthew is Executive Director of OTA in Canada and IFOAM World Board member.
50 years, 40 years, 20 years ago: major milestones on our road to sustainability. So what will this year bring—will California choose to label GMOs and by so doing help shape the continent? What will we see in five years’ time—will organic agriculture prove its resilience and restorative qualities in a world of unpredictable and extreme weather shifts? And what will we realize in the next 50 years that will ensure our descendants can enjoy the same gifts we were given? That question is the same one that Rachel Carson faced in 1962: we each must internalize sustainability, we must question every day how the things we do, support, make, or buy either sustain or drain our world of its diversity and its life. This is a daily moment, and a personal one; but we are all, collectively, shaped by its outcome.
Civil society organizations have to lead by Julia Lernoud, El Rincón Orgánico (Argentina) 23 years ago, El Rincón Orgánico started with the principle that one should first feed your own home and then the world. The organic sector in Argentina has mainly focused on exporting food to the main consumer countries; that is why María Calzada and Pipo Lernoud founded the distribution scheme and the shop. At the beginning the idea was to get organic products for their family and friends. By that time they were producing squash and cereals for the global market and some veggies for their own consumption. But as conventional agriculture started to be seen as increasingly toxic, the demand for better products grew. María started to contact all the local organic producers and coordinate a supply of their products. And the local market started to appear. After two decades of knocking on doors, offering organic, fresh and local produce, we have an increasing organic local market with groceries, restaurants, markets, specialised stores. All these experiences teaches us that the biggest changes come from the ground up, when people get together under one same objective. We understood we couldn't wait for the institutions to
make the first step - civil society needs to lead the change. This is a crucial point for the kind of conferences, like Rio+20, where the most important actions and results are the ones that come from the people. Today, climate change, world hunger, deficient health and education systems are a fact that everybody can acknowledge, and we shouldn't wait any longer for others to take action. Civil society organizations have to lead. That is why we are pleased to be part of the big family that is the organic movement and to cooperate with IFOAM in working for the world we all want. Much was achieved in these 40 years, and that shows the importance of collective effort. As the title of one IFOAM annual report stated: “One World, Many Hands.” As members of this big family, we believe that part of our daily work is to promote this philosophy. That's the reason why El Rincón Orgánico continues organizing public events and free seminars, and trying to get involved in places we have never been, like rock concerts and film festivals, to bring the organic lifestyle to the whole world. We encourage all IFOAM members to take action and help IFOAM to take organic to the next level.
Traditional Organic Farming meets the Challenges of the Pacific by Karen Mapusa, POETcom (Fiji)
highly refined foods, accompanied by decreased local food production and consumption, is also having serious effects on the health of island populations. The recent escalation in food prices can be added to the list. We are vulnerable, we are at risk and we don’t have a lot of options.
Many of the creation legends of the Pacific islands involve our lands being ‘fished up’ from the vast For the founders of the Pacific organic movement oceans – or conversely torrents of trapped waters there was no doubt that organic agriculture can being released and dividing people into separate contribute to answering these challenges, there is islands creating the ‘ocean of islands’ in which also no doubt that we cannot act soon enough. our diverse peoples live: a population of around 9.5 million people scattered across an ocean area The work initiated and supported by IFOAM to deof approximately 30 million square kilometres of velop the Pacific Organic Standard plus the formawhich less than 2% of this area is land. Some of tion of the Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Comour islands lay low in the water – less than a metre munity (POETcom) in 2009 to present a united above sea level, and we are aware voice for organic practitioners and everyday that our survival in this stakeholders of the region has cre“We believe that our great ocean continent is dependated considerable impetus in the traditional organic ent on our protection of the small region and organic agriculture farming methods, amounts of land we have. is now included in the national when strengthened, development plans of almost all The Pacific is facing a number of region-wide challenges, includ- coordinated and shared, our Governments or Ministries of will meet the changing Agriculture. Increasingly organics ing the effects of climate change, is being recognised by our policy needs of our region degradation of ecosystems due to makers for the solutions it can ofand peoples and carry unsustainable use of both land and fer and were greatly encourage by us forward into the marine resources, and the need our Pacific Island leaders including to generate livelihoods to mainfuture.” support for organic agriculture in tain populations in the islands. Intheir submission to the Zero Draft. creased consumption of imported, We look forward to closer links with the organic world as we move on our path, none of us can do this alone. We are proud to be working with IFOAM who have provided not only great leadership in the organic world but also endless support and encouragement to us as we work to make organic agriculture the key contributor to sustaining our cultures, improving farmer livelihoods, communities and people health and the environment in the Pacific.
Food Sovereignty First! by Nature & Progrès (France) The issues of food and hunger around the world question the current systems of production, processing and marketing of agricultural products. Peasants represent 70% of the hungry. Yet, the right to food appears in the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of himself and of his family, including food.” Also, in 2007, at the Forum for Food Sovereignty in Mali, the declaration of Nyéléni underlined that all people have the right to safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food, produced sustainably and ecologically. Food sovereignty is the right for countries and peoples to define their own agricultural and food policies, and must be the engine of peasant and citizens mobilization. Food sovereignty breaks with the current organization of international agricultural markets and is the answer for more equitable, sustainable and respectful food systems. Food sovereignty rejects the idea that food products should be products like any other, only managed by the agro-food industry and subject to the strategies of multinationals and to the adverse effects of international trade.
l’Europe’ in 2009, ‘Alimentons les regions’ in 2010, and ‘Alimentions’ in 2012) By developing Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) in organic production, Nature & Progrès takes action to support knowledge exchange and develop new and transparent relations between organic stakeholders in France, e.g. peasants, craftsmen and citizens. Message to Rio+20 Nature & Progrès alerts NGOs and policy makers on the transformation of elements of biodiversity into commercial goods or services. Any patent, or any financial value given to elements of biodiversity is the beginning of their destruction. A collective asset taken outside of its social system, or an ecosystem service outside of its ecosystem, no longer fulfill their social or ecological function: they become mere speculative products on the financial markets. The market is unable to ensure the equitable distribution of land, water, seeds and other elements of biodiversity essential to life. Their conservation first and foremost depends on the respect of local communities’ rights to use and manage their resources sustainably.
Food sovereignty implies that farmers should get a fair income for their production. Food sovereignty adds value to an agriculture respectful of life, food habits and traditions, hence creating social bonds between men and women living close geographically and socialy. Food sovereignty opposes the standardization of agricultural and food production. Food sovereignty tends to develop agricultural systems focused on national and regional needs, hence reducing dependence to international markets. Food sovereignty opposes the privatization of natural resources, even allowed by law. Food sovereignty connects producers and consumers, rural and urban communities, for them to exchange and to master their food production. Nature & Progrès and its partners calls out to citizens and policy makers to promote healthy food for all, in their campaigns ‘Alimentons’ (‘Alimentons
Nature et Progrès is founding member of IFOAM and the world’s oldest PGS initiative.
Living Gross National Happiness by Thynley Gyem, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (Bhutan) Sustainable Development, as per the dictionary, reads “a pattern of economic growth in which resource use aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in present but also for the generations to come.” Rio+20 is a platform where initiatives to promote sustainable development are sought for achieving a greener economy and a healthier and stable environment for all to live in. The first step towards official the adoption of sustainable development strategy at the National level was instigated in Bhutan in the year 2004, with the embracement of Gross National Happiness (GNH) as the Nations Developmental indicator. In Bhutan, our system of sustainable agriculture includes different production methods, systems and approaches that aim to meet the goal of profitability, stewardship and quality of life as in accordance with the GNH principles. One of such approaches, we feel, by no means the only one is organic farming. We are determined to make our agriculture genuinely sustainable through working with nature to enhance rather then degrade and to farm in such a way as to enrich rather then deplete soil nutrients. The theme for our 11th five-year plan, ‘Rural Prosperity’, is equivalent to the Rio+20 themes of greener economy and sustainable development, both aim at achieving sustainable development and lifting rural people out of poverty. As stated by our Honorable Prime Minister at the opening session of IFOAM’s side event at Rio+20: “Without food security there is no other kind of security. And without sustainable agriculture, there is no food security.” And I believe organic agriculture is the only means for sustaining agriculture and so all forms of life on earth. We, as Bhutanese, strongly welcome and encourage
IFOAM President Andre Leu and Bhutan’s Prime Minister at Rio+20
more and more of such initiatives thus facilitating a happier life in harmony with our mother nature!!!
“Passengers, all aboard!” by Biosun Certifier (Iran) It is with utmost excitement and pleasure that we seize the opportunity to join in such allegory of grace and beauty on the wings of Organic Agriculture, flying to sustainable livelihoods. Development in every dynamic society like I.R. Iran, even at the beginning of ‘the organic way’ and an organic movement, is indispensable, even if many challenges still lay ahead requiring heroic innovations to overcome them. Awareness of organic farming and organic products is growing rapidly. Both governmental and private authorities are trying to enhance organic chains in the country. Iran, because of different climatic conditions, has potential to produce different kinds of agricultural products, e.g. saffron, figs, grapes, citrus, date palm, pomegranate, almonds, pistachio, walnuts, wild collection of medicinal and ornamental plants and other crop plants. In most cases, traditional agriculture in Iran is a kind of non-certified organic (neglected organic production) because most of the practices and processes in these agro ecosystem are compatible with organic agriculture. Many farmers in Iran do not use chemical fertilizers and pesticides, so Iran’s agricultural land is not too contaminated with agrochemicals. Results of Rio+20 can and should be the stop en route to the perspective horizons of sustainability, where bright spots become recognized and a clear pathway is paved for the future generations of every entity on earth. We do believe that Organic does imitate nature and there should be no boundaries or barriers if we are destined to preserve the integrity of our planet. None of the requirements of sustainability are beyond the technical reach or resources of our societies, if we listen to the whispers of every beating heart, appreciate the giving hands and cherish the talented bright minds. Let organic becomes the journey, beginning in delight and ending in wisdom. Together we stand, divided we fall and the spirit should carry on.
Saudi Arabia, a Country Committed to Sustainable Food Production by Marco Hartmann, GIZ (Germany) On request of the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Agriculture, GIZ started to support the development of the Kingdom’s organic agriculture sector in April 2005. The overall mission of the Organic Farming Project was to establish a functioning and sustainable organic agriculture sector in Saudi Arabia. Within a mere 7 years, essential policy and support functions have been set in place and the project together with its partners of the Ministry’s Department of Organic Agriculture (DOA) and the Saudi Organic Farming Association (SOFA) has turned organic agriculture in the KSA into a remarkable example for organic sector development. Consumer demand for healthy and high quality foods is growing in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. At the same time, domestic organic markets are emerging. Organic agriculture offers substantial opportunities for small farmers in the Kingdom since the shift from severe competition at local conventional markets to an organic niche market offers attractive price premiums in a growing market environment. However, the benefits of organic agriculture are not confined to business opportunities. In addition to market considerations, the Kingdom acknowledges organic as environmentally friendly and emphasizes the potential to protect the Kingdom’s valuable resources by strengthening soil fertility, biodiversity and other ecosystem services. Beyond national interests, Saudi Arabia has taken up an important role in promoting organic throughout the entire Arabic peninsular. In 2011 the Kingdom has acknowledged the advocating role of IFOAM together with its standard equivalence initiatives and joined IFOAMs Family of Standards. The first Saudi Organic Regulation and Standards are currently under revision in order to fully comply with the Common Objectives
and Requirements of Organic Standards (COROS) in the near future. The formation of an IFOAM Middle East Group is on the way; with Dr. Saad Khalil (Ministry of Agriculture Organic Farming Supervisor and Secretary General of SOFA) Saudi Arabia has engaged in both a facilitating and mediating role to strengthen organic in the Middle East, ease equivalence and support regional trade of organic products. A first organic agricultural policy concept has been introduced in October 2012, depicting adequate policy support measures for strengthening the Kingdom’s organic sector in a long-term perspective. First reactions by the Saudi government have been very positive and a translation of the policy into an operational organic action plan can be expected in 2013. The policy combines market oriented and resource oriented goals to an intermediate strategy reflecting both productivity and resource objectives. S tren gth ening consumers’ awareness via a national PR campaign in 2013 is among priorities as well as supporting and strengthening basic governmental functions such as Organic Research and Extension. Organic agriculture research in dry climatic environments such as Saudi Arabia offers great future opportunities to deliver substantial solutions for smallholders in the Kingdom and elsewhere. In the light of extreme climates, Organic Research & Extension is among key issues which can make a difference for organic producers to help shape global sustainable organic systems development in future. Saudi Arabia has taken up this challenge and is about to develop and strengthen its Organic Agriculture Research Sector together with the GIZ in close collaboration with FiBL Switzerland. There is a lot to do, yet at the same time a lot of confidence and motivation to provide solutions to producers in arid climates in Saudi Arabia and beyond. 43
Source: Karen Mapuso
Published on Dec 6, 2012