Monthly Archive: March 2012

Mar 22

ICEA: Inclusive Partnerships for Sustainable Livelihoods

A livelihood is sustainable when it can cope with and recover from stress and shocks, maintain or enhance its capabilities and assets, when it contributes a net benefit to other livelihoods at the local and global level and, in the short and the long term, when it provides sustainable livelihood opportunities for the next generations

R. Chambers, 1991

According to ICEA, Organic Agriculture can contribute to meaningful socio-economic and ecological sustainable development of the livelihood, both in the developed countries than in developing ones.

Starting from its historical experience in the Italian organic movement, ICEA moved toward a daring and challenging sector that is international cooperation, offering its expertise in organizing sound and sustainable value chains for smallholders producing organic crops around the world.

ICEA has been working in order to promote a kind of organic and ethic certification tailored in the most appropriate form to the project stakeholders (e.g. Group Certification; Internal Control System, Participatory Guarantee Systems); and proposed a diverse range of certification schemes  (e.g. Fairtrade; Eco Tourism; Corporate Social Responsibility; Organic Aquaculture, Cosmetic and Textiles, etc.).

ICEA arose from Italian farmers experience, but is now operating worldwide in diverse contexts trying to apply always the same guiding principles about sustainable livelihoods: to be holistic; to be people-focused; to encourage broad partnerships; to promote micro-macro linkages.

An example of this fruitful approach is represented by the recent membership of the Ecuadorian FECD – Fondo Ecuatoriano de Cooperación para el Desarrollo – who has joined the ICEA consortium in 2011. FECD has a long lasting experience in Ecuador promoting and implementing sustainable development related activities, with a specific focus on the livelihoods of smallholder producers adopting organic agriculture. FECD works with an innovative approach for the implementation of its projects, putting emphasis on the “human side” of the entire process, from production to certification; actually FECD is using in all its activities the “focusing” approach, a methodology derived from psychotherapy and has adapted it for the management of non-profit organizations.

Following this methodology, ICEA and FECD are collaborating to develop joint cooperation initiatives, based on organic standards promotion, in Latin American Countries; furthermore they became technical partners of the new Ecuadorian certification body, named ICEA ECUADOR.

Taking into account this successful story with Ecuador, ICEA’s key message to RIO+20 would be to encourage the creation of broad and inclusive partnerships amongst different stakeholders, aiming at enhancing livelihoods and facing the problems connected to rural poverty eradication, sustainable agricultural development and food security.

Chiara Scaraggi and Michele Maccari
International Cooperation Projects
ICEA – Istituto per la Certificazione Etica ed Ambientale

Mar 19

IFOAM EU Group goes RIO+20

Happy birthday, IFOAM! IFOAM EU is proud of its mother for its 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 organizations. We are recognized 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 fields of IFOAM EU do of course reach out into the rest of the world. This can be illustrated by one of the working fields of IFOAM EU: the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The Common Agricultural Policy (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 realizing 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 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 organizations 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.

Lena Wietheger

Mar 12

HIVOS: A Greener and more Inclusive Agricultural Sector at RIO+20!

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 people’s well being all over the world?

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 witnessing 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 especially in rural areas where food is produced? We must have taken a wrong road somewhere.

Hivos Working Team of the Green Entrepreneurship Program

Over the last 20 years Hivos worked with farmers and their organizations 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 show 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 success to become oceans of change? I am not very hopeful about the Dutch politicians. There is little 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 will impresse the world, including the Dutch. So, If the Dutch Prime Minister Rutte– probably empty handed – 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.

Willy Douma
Programme Officer Green entrepreneurship Hivos or (for documents on smallholder farmers in a globalizing market, on biodiversity, poverty and livelihoods or on foodsecurity)