IFOAM EU Congress: Roadmap for making Europe more organic
by Karin Heinze (comments: 0)
Elisabeth Backtemann Deputy Secretary of the Ministery for Rural Affairs of Sweden explained that there is a historical chance to make Europe more organic. Her colleagues Flavio Coturni - Head of the Unit Agricultural Policy Analysis and Perspectives, DG AGRI, European Commission (inthe middle) and Toomas Kevvai - Deputy Secretary General for Food Safety, Research and Development, Ministery of Rural Affairs of the Republic of Estonia. Photo © Karin Heinze
IFOAM EU members and guests from the organic industry as well as policymakers met for the 11th European Organic Congress (EOC) in the Estonian capital Tallinn from 5 - 6 September. The main topics of the first day were the Common European Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the possibilities to implement the ambitious goal of IFOAM EU to reach 50% European agricultural land managed according to organic principles by 2030 (Organic Vision 2030). The new launched "Organic Roadmap" should serve as an inspiration and source of ideas.
The participants from all over Europe listened the interesting discussions. Photo © Karin Heinze
The Organic Roadmap is launched
The venue was selected due to the fact that Estonia is holding the EU Council Presidency until the end of this year. The EOC followed the Informal Meeting for EU Agricultural Ministers which examined how the future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) can empower farmers with effective tools for risks management. IFOAM EU President Christopher Stopes opened the Congress introducing the key topics of the first day. He explained that the strategy of IFOAM EU is aiming to develop more sustainability and organic farming with the help of the Organic Roadmap to Sustainable Food and Farming Systems in Europe which is designed during the last few years in a common process by IFOAM on the basis of the Organic 3.0 program and the Organic Vision 2030.
In the workshops many ideas and proposals to make the vision 2030 happen were discussed. Photo © Karin Heinze
The vision and the Organic Roadmap were discussed by stakeholders and policymakers of the EU. The Common European Agricultural Policy (CAP) was a very important part of the talks. Also the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) where the agri-food sector must play a critical role were in the focus. “Our Roadmap shows how organic farming can continue to play an important role in producing quality food, creating viable business opportunities, and protecting and enhancing the environment. The organic model provides a proven path to achieving the SDGs.“, Christopher Stopes said. And he continued: „The Commission’s recent CAP public consultation has clearly demonstrated that a new deal is needed between farmers and citizens. To capitalise on the potential of organics, the EU and national governments need to fully integrate the SDGs into all the EU’s policies, including the CAP“, he emphasised.
Video interview with IFOAM EU President Christopher Stopes
New deal between farmers and society
The fairness issue was again raised by Jan Plagge, IFOAM EU Vice President for Policy. He said: “The current debate on CAP reform clearly highlights that a CAP fit for the modern age must ensure fair farm incomes and the delivery of public goods demanded by society are not in conflict. Risk management tools such as insurance schemes will just encourage overproduction and undermine farm viability and our environment. A CAP prioritising public goods for public benefit, backed by a well-resourced EU budget, has the greatest chance of achieving the ambitions of the SDGs and contributing to fair farm incomes that also deliver on societal expectations.”
Panel on the topic of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). From the left side: Pekka Pesonen - Secretary General, Copa-Cogeca, Jeremy Wates - Secretary General, The European Environmental Bureau, Jan Plagge - President, Bioland General, IFOAM Board Member. Photo © Karin Heinze
Plagge continues: "The whole food chain needs to get real fair prices that integrate the external costs.“ That means public goods like biodiversity, clean water and air, animal welfare, climate etc. must be discussed and part of the CAP. It is also needed to offer sustainability solutions not only on the farming level but also to the growing society in cities.
Copa Cogeca Secretary General Pekka Pesonen´s message also was the need of fair pay to farmers. "The organic sector must not be a exception", he said. The goods must be marketed in a proper way and the margin of retailers and distributors must not put pressure on the farmers, Pesonen said. Becoming more and more a main stream market and getting out of the niche, the organic sector gains more responsibility, but that is a democratic and evolutinary development, Pesonen explained „that cannot be a revolution.“
Jan Plagge required public goods like biodiversity, clean water and air, animal welfare, climate etc. must be discussed and part of the CAP. Photo © Karin Heinze
Organic is part of the solution
Elisabeth Backteman, State Secretary to the Minister for Rural Affairs of Sweden, put it this way during the opening plenary: “Organic is part of the solution. In Sweden this is reflected in the growing demand of Swedish consumers for organic and the government’s commitment to reach 60% of organic food in public kitchens by 2030. We need now to develop the organic production even further, and to move much more towards more ambitious and targeted rural development investments rather than subsidies based on area.” She added: With the Paris agreement we have a historical moment. We must feel the responsibility and do as much as we can towards sustainability. It is time to support the second pillar.“
The CAP is not addressing enough the environmental and climatic issues emphasised also Flavio Conturni, Head of the Unit Agricultural Policy Analysis and Perspectives, DG AGRI, European Commission. „It is in the interest of all stakeholders to increase economical, ecological and social issues in a balance. The transition must regard public goods to reach a successful CAP reform“, was his statement.
Jeremy Wates, Secretary General, The European Environmental Bureau said: „The 2020 CAP reform failed already because the instruments are inefficient.“ The demand of the organic sector to spend „public money for public goods“ was not sufficently heard. We need a completely new approach that allows more sustainability." Last time we did a gray-greening instead of a real greening“, he said and added that consumers are not paying the real costs of food. In the further process he asked for more ambition and IFOAM as a leading power.
Lively workshop discussions on the topics of the Organic Roadmap: "Organic on every table", "Improve, inspire, deliver" and "Fair play, fair pay"" Photo © Karin Heinze
Workshops to fill the Organic Roadmap with life
The "Organic Roadmap" is to serve as inspiration and as a roadmap and was filled with many examples and ideas at the congress. The presentations and outcomes of the workshops and more ideas of the vision of a fair, environmentally conscious, healthy and caring food and farming system will be published at the new IFOAM EU website EUorganic2030
Kristin Karlsson, Concord, Sweden, presented the results of the workshops. Photo © Karin Heinze
The Wall of Action - ideas and inspiration for the Organic Roadmap
The presentation by Kristin Karlsson, Communications Manager, Concord Sweden, is also accessable in a video on BioMarktInfo Youtube..