Tag Archive: network

Jun 27

El Rincón Orgánico: Civil society organizations have to lead

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 been mainly dedicated to exports of food to the main consumer markets, 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 squashes 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 door to door offering organic, fresh and local produce, we have an increasing organic local market with groceries, restaurants, markets, specialized stores.

All these experiences teach us that biggest changes comes from the grassroots, when people get together under one same aim. 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 international conferences, such as 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 facts 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 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 organic lifestyle to the whole world. We encourage all IFOAM members to take action and help IFOAM to take organic to the next level.

Julia Lernoud
El Rincón Orgánico

May 31

Soil Association: Better Together!

Helen BrowningI was delighted to be asked to contribute to IFOAM’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 – 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 endeavored 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 minimizing 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 sustainable 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.

Helen Browning
Chief Executive
Soil Association

Apr 02

Avalon Foundation: New Thracian Gold

Avalon sends the lantern and a message to RIO+20

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 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.

Martien Lankester
Executive Director Avalon

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