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Sustainability and Organic Best Practice Reference - DRAFT


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We urge you to contribute your thoughts and advice on the draft Sustainability and Organic Best Practice Reference that is now out for public consideration until March 31, 2013.

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Sustainability and Organic Best Practice Reference - DRAFT

  1. 1. Sustainability and Organic Best PracticeAffiliates and Stakeholder Consultation 2013
  2. 2. Dear IFOAM Affiliates, dear stakeholders,Humankind faces greater challenges than ever to sustain our wellbeing on this planet. Problems of hunger, poverty, and human andecological health are worsening under the dominant agricultural paradigm. The Principles of Organic Agriculture point to a differentparadigm, one where health and vitality is restored and prosperity shared.At the Organic World Congress in 2011, the IFOAM General Assembly (GA) mandated through its Motion 57 (sustainability motion)that IFOAM should, on behalf of the Organic Movement, create an action network to re-position organic practices as the mainstreamapproach for sustainability in agriculture worldwide, and to provide guidance on how to improve its own practices.The General Assembly wanted IFOAM to take a lead. The newly elected World Board drafted a ‘statement on the role of OrganicAgriculture in the transition to a sustainable world’ in which it explains the proposed strategy of the Organic Movement.In early 2012, IFOAM and its allies launched the Sustainable Organic Agriculture Action Network (SOAAN) with the purpose of fulfillingthe GA’s motion. One of SOAAN’s initial tasks was to draft a reference document that describes best practices that lead to sustainability.This development of the Best Practice Reference is a further step in completing IFOAM’s new Organic Guarantee System, which waspreviously approved by the General Assembly and the first programs of which were launched in 2011.After one year of face-to-face and e-mail discussions in countless small and big groups, culminating in the well-attended three-day‘Bonn Sustainability Camp’ in November 2012, we are ready for a public consultation on the outcomes of the discussion.We look forward to receiving your feedback on the strategies presented by the World Board and the content of the Best PracticeReference. The consultation period is until March 31, 2013 and the e-questionnaire will be kept online until that date.Organically Yours,Andre Leu - IFOAM President Urs Niggli - SOAAN Chair Markus Arbenz – IFOAM Executive Director
  3. 3. Background and objectives of this consultation With this consultation, IFOAM and SOAAN seek feedback from organic and non-organic stakeholders on the draft strategies of the Organic Movement and on best practices of farming and processing, before final versions are brought forward to the legitimate bodies (IFOAM World Board for the strategy and IFOAM General Assembly for the Best Practice Reference) for decision. Motion 57 of the IFOAM General Assembly in October 2011 IFOAM and SOAAN “IFOAM shall position Organic Agriculture better in its IFOAM, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture own and the public perception as a holistic, sustainable Movements, is the only international umbrella organization farming system that is committed to further develop for the Organic Movement worldwide, with presently 766 its practices to meet traditional and new challenges. Affiliates. Its highest body is the General Assembly. To implement this motion, IFOAM shall build an action SOAAN, the Sustainable Organic Agriculture Action network with allies, which works out a new positioning Network, is an informal alliance of institutions that that highlight the multiple benefits of Organic Agriculture. develops activities that position Organic Agriculture and IFOAM shall also develop strategic recommendations its related supply chain as a holistic sustainable approach. regarding sustainability development for the stakeholders of the organic world.” The development of the Best Practice Reference is supported by a generous grant fromSOAAN Members: NAVDANYA Rainman INOFO Landcare Foundation Leading Organic Alliance
  4. 4. Summary of the IFOAM World Board’s statementthe role of Organic Agriculture in the transition sustainability improvements need to be balanced. Organic farming hasto a sustainable world to remain feasible and affordable on the one hand and credible andThe IFOAM World Board is leading a discussion and process in the trustworthy on the other hand. The higher price of organic productsOrganic Movement with the aim of positioning Organic Agriculture is a key element in balancing development priorities. Excessively highas a holistic, sustainable farming system that is committed to further production requirements, driven by too fast standard developments,developing its practices in order to better meet both traditional and result in too high prices, that (additional) consumers may not be readynew challenges. Based on a motion tabled by the IFOAM General to pay. If the pace of sustainability development, driven by innovationsAssembly in 2011, this statement serves as an explanation of the and standards, is too slow, Organic Agriculture will come under publicWorld Board’s understanding of the issue and as a strategy for the pressure and lose its position as a leader and credible alternative toIFOAM and the global Organic Movement. conventional production. The optimal balance needs to be definedThe attempt to make agriculture sustainable is hardly challenged. locally. The higher the uptake of Organic Agriculture and the lessHowever, understanding of the term sustainability and resulting wealthy a society, the less prominent price premiums can be.strategy proposals vary substantially across the world. The Organic IFOAM, together with its allies in SOAAN and Affiliates, leads andMovement proposes an alternative to conventional green revolution supports a process that aims to maximize the sustainability impacttype strategies. It sees Organic Agriculture as a farming system based on through the adoption of organic farming. SOAAN is developing the ‘Besttraditions and on the scientific discipline of agroecology that improves Practice Reference’, a document that describes the vision for sustainablethe sustainability of agroecosystems. It is based on the four Principles of agriculture practices in great detail. The Best Practice Reference isOrganic Agriculture and aims at functional integrity of systems. subject to approval by the IFOAM General Assembly. Further supportTo achieve the vision of a worldwide adoption of sound systems, documents are planned.Organic Agriculture must a) expand and b) improve its own • Full draft text of this statement click HERE.sustainability. Development priorities towards expansion as well as • For the consultation questionnaire click HERE.
  5. 5. Summary of the Best Practice ReferenceOrganization and ScopeThe Best Practice Reference addresses the entire agriculture value chain from farm up until the final consumer, as well as theinfrastructures and institutions that support these chains. The consumption habits of the final consumer are not included, except forways in which marketing information is communicated to them.Best Practices and SustainabilityThe document begins with a brief introduction about the relationship of the organic sector to sustainability. It then goes into a detaileddiscussion of the best practices that lead to sustainability. The Best Practice Reference divides sustainability into 5 dimensions,which are complementary and interact (societal, ecological, economic, cultural and communication). The document presents eachdimension separately, each with its own objectives. There is no hierarchy or preference among dimensions. Sustainable developmentrequires that all dimensions be addressed, with each dimension receiving emphasis according to context. Each dimension of BestPractice is divided into a set of complementary aspects that comprises the full dimension. Each aspect is discussed in terms of thevalues and approach of the organic movement, and what the relevant Best Practices are. The 5 dimensions and their correspondingaspects are outlined in the table on the following page.Intended uses of the Best Practice ReferenceThe text of the Best Practice Reference document is intended to be formative, not normative. It is not intended as a compliancedocument per se. Its possible uses include:• Serving as guidelines for improving the ecological, societal, cultural, and economic sustainability of farms and businesses systematically;• Setting research agendas for improving organic and sustainable farming and value chains;
  6. 6. • To benchmark programs, operations, and Dimension Aspects Included sustainability assessment tools for agriculture and its value chains; ƒƒEquity and gender Societal People live in ƒƒRight livelihood• For the development and use of sets of indicators equality and equity. ƒƒLabor and human rights and metrics, which can be used for an operation’s ƒƒSafety and hygiene self-evaluation or external evaluation;• To enable assessment of how certain ƒƒWater sustainability practices have aggregate regional or ƒƒSoil Ecological global impact; Common goods are used ƒƒBiodiversity sustainably. ƒƒAnimal production• To inform and influence policy agendas of ƒƒAtmosphere governmental and non-governmental entities; ƒƒEnergy and• As a resource for capacity building, education, ƒƒInvestment Economic and raising awareness about sustainability issues. Trading leads to ƒƒLocal economy and economic resilience prosperity. ƒƒSelling products and servicesContext ƒƒMaterials/contaminants/wasteThe Best Practice Reference is intended to be the focalpoint for broader programs related to improvement of Inspiration, innovation, ƒƒPersonal growth and community Cultural leadership and altruism are developmentorganic practices, knowledge sharing and innovation. enabled. Communities are ƒƒFood security and food sovereigntyOver time it will help develop and link to other detailed stable and thrive. ƒƒProduct qualityefforts such topics as metrics and indicators, science Communicationand research, case studies, benchmarking, and similar People are transparent ƒƒHolistic management and governanceaspects as part of a Community of Best Practice. about their actions and ƒƒAccountability and reporting accountable for them, ƒƒStakeholder participationFor the full draft text of the Best Practice Reference and participation fromclick here. stakeholders is encouraged.For the consultation questionnaire click here. The five dimensions of sustainability according to the Best Practice Reference.
  7. 7. Stakeholder Consultation: Next StepsLet us know what you think! Interested in Learning More?The following questions are intended to guide your critical Should you wish to obtain more information or engage in face-reflection on the material presented above and facilitate the to-face discussion, please join us at one of our BioFach Nürnbergconsultation process: Congress Sessions. On Friday, February 15, 2013 from 14:00 to1. Do you support the IFOAM World Board’s strategy in its 15:30 p.m. in Room Istanbul, the session The Organic Movement explanatory statement? Do you have any comments? Maps the Road to Sustainability will take place. The panelists2. Do you agree with the proposed scope of the Best Practice from IFOAM and SOAAN will be: Reference? Would you change anything? • David Gould, IFOAM Value Chain Facilitator;3. Do you agree with the approach of using complementary • Prof. Dr. Urs Niggli, FiBL; dimensions to reflect sustainability? • Dr Birgit Wilhelm, WWF;4. Do you have any suggestions for specific revisions or • Anton Pinschof, INOFO; comments on the text of the Best Practice Reference? • Volkert Engelsman, EOSTA and IFOAM World Board; andPlease use this easy-to-use online question form to provide your • Edith Lammerts van Bueren of the Agro Eco Louis Bolk by March 31, 2013. The event will explain the what, why and how of the organicFollowing the IFOAM World Board meeting in mid-April, IFOAM approach, and provide an opportunity to ask questions and discussAffiliates and the general public will be informed of the outcome the consultation. Alternatively, visit us at our booth, Hall #1, Boothof this consultation in order to prepare for a subsequent round #240 to talk to one of our SOAAN experts.of public input and motions from IFOAM members. An e-mailmembership vote for approval of the new Best Practices Reference If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contactis planned for October 2013.