The Sustainable Organic Agriculture Action Network (SOAAN)
Description and Objectives
The Sustainable Organic Agriculture Action Network (SOAAN) exists to develop a reference and program that positions organic agriculture and its related supply chains as a holistic, sustainable approach to the production of food and fiber for all of human society. Working together as an alliance of likeminded organizations, members can use the SOAAN’s outputs to jointly and individually impact the world’s practices around the production and consumption of agricultural products. Through these efforts, good organic production can become a real and significant institutional alternative to conventional agriculture and its related policies, and members of SOAAN can be seen as increasingly desirable partners.
The scope of the SOAAN’s work encompasses all aspects of agricultural production and downstream product supply chains, centering around the products themselves, but also taking into consideration the infrastructure on which their production, distribution, and consumption depends. In addition to these ecological aspects, the human aspect of all of these interactions is taken into consideration. All together, SOAAN’s efforts reflect and respect the IFOAM Principles of Organic Agriculture.
Benefits and Beneficiaries of SOAAN's work:
The organic movement sees the stewardship of the environment as the only long-term basis for sustainability, the core around which other principles of fairness and prosperity must be built. Some people may see organic as the “top,” but we say that it needs to be seen as the base, the foundation on which sound, sustainable systems are built. SOAAN will enable us to clearly identify the areas where Organic Agriculture is truly sustainable and the areas where we need to do more. It is important that Organic Agriculture is seen as continuously improving so that we continue to be seen as the leaders in sustainable agriculture.
In its initial phase of existence – until about March 2013 – SOAAN has an ambitious agenda, namely the creation and testing of three main pieces of work:
- A reference document, guide, or similar resource that describes best practices of sustainable organic production and value chains;
- A positioning paper with which leaders in the organic movement can strategically position organic agriculture and the organic movement as having a critical and central role in world ecological stewardship, economic, and social development; and
- A strategy brief that organic actors worldwide can use to advance their own efforts.
These products can be used for a variety of purposes, including:
- Foundational educational materials for the dissemination of organic knowledge, research, and training;
- Planning and assessment tools, and related reporting mechanisms, whereby progress and achievement of sustainable practices may be evaluated and communicated; and
- Guides for policy, strategy and research agenda setting.
Envisioning the longer-term:
We conceive a diverse and rich network of supporters of the organic mission and movement, sharing common information and common tools across an open-source, practical platform that leads and pulls organic production to the mainstream of agriculture and value chains. It will foster innovation within the movement and make bridges to those still on the outside. SOAAN’s products are aimed at a wide range of beneficiaries, from farmers on the ground to top-level policy makers, from traders to researchers. We are designing the products of SOAAN’s work to be accessible from all positions within and around the value chain.
The vision of SOAAN is collaborative, transformative, and far-reaching. Working together as an alliance of likeminded organizations, members of the network can use the SOAAN’s outputs to jointly and individually impact the world’s practices around the production and consumption of agricultural products. Through these efforts, good organic production can come to be seen as a real and significant institutional alternative to conventional agriculture and its related policies, and members of SOAAN can be seen as increasingly desirable partners.