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.”
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.
Current Work Plan:
SOAAN's initial phase of work extends until late winter of 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 will then be released for public consultation and feedback. Two rounds of such public input are planned for 2012 (and into early 2013), with subsequent revisions by the Core and Advisory Group after each round.
In November 2012 SOAAN will host a "Sustainability Camp" in Bonn, Germany, where the progress of SOAAN's work will be intensively shared and discussed, along with visioning for its further advancement. This event will coincide with IFOAM's 40th anniversary celebration, as well as immediately preceding the SusCon conference, also in Bonn.
SOAAN's work for this first phase is generously supported by a grant from Migros.