The Sustainable Organic Agriculture Action Network
At the 2011 Organic World Congress in Korea, the IFOAM General Assembly resolved to position the organic movement as a fundamental and core solution to the world's challenges regarding social and environmental sustainability. Motion 57 of the General Assembly states:
"IFOAM shall position Organic Agriculture better in its own and the public perception as a holistic, sustainable farming system that is committed to further develop its practices to meet traditional and new challenges. To implement this motion, IFOAM shall build an action network with allies which works out a new positioning that highlight the multiple benefits of Organic Agriculture. IFOAM shall also develop strategic recommendations regarding sustainability development for the stakeholders of the organic world. To implement this motion, IFOAM shall build an action network with allies which works out a new positioning that highlight the multiple benefits of Organic Agriculture. IFOAM shall also develop strategic recommendations regarding sustainability development for the stakeholders of the organic world.” (The full text of Motion 57 can be found by clicking here.)
IFOAM thus convened a group of like-minded organizations and individuals to create the Sustainable Organic Agriculture Action Network, or SOAAN. Founding organizations in the network included FiBL, Navdanya, ICROFS (The International Centre for Research in Organic Food Systems), INOFO (the Intercontinental Network of Organic Farmers Organizations), CEDECO (Corporación Educativa para el Desarrollo Costarricense), Rainman Land Care Foundation, WWF, SOCLA (Sociedad Científicia Latinoamericana de Agroecología), the Leading Organic Alliance, and the International Association for Partnership. Since its inception, SOAAN has continued to build its body of organizations participating in the Network.
IFOAM serves as the Secretariat for SOAAN, with primary responsibility for coordinating its actions, building its content, and expanding the network of participants.
SOAAN's initial phase of work extends through 2013. Under the direction of the Action Network's Steering Group, the Core Group will draft successive versions of the initiative's principal documents, namely:
- A best practice reference document that addresses organic principles and practices in the broader context of global human society and its sustainability;
- A positioning paper that justifies the organic approach to sustainability from primary production all the way through the value chain, to the final consumer; and
- A strategy paper that can assist like-minded organizations and policy makers to promote and spread organic practices worldwide.
Drafting by the Core Group occurs in consultation with the SOAAN Advisory Group. These drafts are then released for public consultation and feedback. Two rounds of such public input are planned for 2013, with subsequent revisions by the Core and Advisory Group thereafter.
In November 2012 SOAAN hosted a "Sustainability Camp" in Bonn, Germany, where the progress of SOAAN's work was intensively shared and discussed, along with visioning for its further advancement. This event coincided with IFOAM's 40th anniversary celebration, as well as immediately preceding the SusCon conference, also in Bonn. The results of the Sustainability Camp can be found by clicking here.
The first public consultation on the SOAAN best practice document occurred from 30 January - 31 March, 2013. The following links lead you to the main documents released for the consultation:
- Overview document
- The IFOAM World Board's explanatory statement
- The first public draft of the Best Practice Reference document
- Comments received during the 1st public consultation, with the SOAAN Core Group's responses
The second public consultation, which allowed for comments by the general public as well as motions from IFOAM members, occured from June 18 - July 31, 2013. Detailed information about this consultation can be found by clicking here.
All motions made to amend the Best Practice Guideline were resolved into friendly amendments and then treated by the IFOAM World Board accordingly.
Click here to view the compiled friendly amendment suggestions and other comments on the Best Practice Guideline, with the World Board's decisions:
Click here to view the track-changes version of Best Practice Guideline, following the IFOAM World Board's review of all the friendly amendments and comments received.
The above resulted in a final first public version that was put to a vote for approval by the IFOAM membership through a virtual General Assembly last lasted from 16 October 2013 through 16 December 2013. Members who voted unanimously to approve the Best Practice Guideline, which was ratified in the version that can be found by clicking here.
SOAAN's work through 2013 was generously supported by a grant from Migros.