20-years of IFOAM Organics Europe in Brussels – Re-live the celebration 

©Chris Marchal
Take a look at our Facebook album for more pictures of the event

On Wednesday 11 May 2022, more than 100 people representing the European organic supply chain, consisting of farmers, processors, retailers, certifiers, including researchers and more, gathered in Brussels to celebrate the 20 years anniversary of IFOAM Organics Europe.         

The event started with Eduardo Cuoco, our Director, welcoming the guests and recollecting the growth of organic in Europe in the past years. “The organic movement’s presence in Brussels has grown alongside the number of organic producers and processors in Europe over the last twenty years, and organic farming is now recognised as the leading European project to make our food system more sustainable. The 25% organic target of the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies is a recognition of the benefits of organic agriculture for the environment, farmers, and consumers. Much remains to be done to make agriculture more resilient and in line with planetary boundaries, but the organic movement can be proud of what has been achieved so far for the recognition of its contribution to many European policy objectives. Consumers also trust organic, the fact that the market grew to €44.8 billion proves this. Our director concluded by inviting the evening’s moderator, Rose O’Donovan, Chief Editor of Agra Facts to the stage.

High level debate with Frans Timmermans: We need to change our ways
Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission joined Rose O’Donovan on stage for a high-level exchange about the European Green Deal. During the panel, the Executive Vice-President addressed his vision saying that: “We need to change our ways to avoid catastrophies, recharge our economy with new energy, so to create better and sustainable jobs as well as creating an international environment based on good and positive relationships on peace rather than on conflict”. Timmermans urged for a long-term view on food security, adding that “There will be no food shortages in Europe”. There is a global food crisis which is not based on food scarcity but rather because “we cannot get enough food from where it’s produced to where it’s needed”.

As Frans Timmermans underlined, the Commission’s commitment of the EU Green Deal to organic comes from their belief in its benefits for the climate, environment, soil, biodiversity, animal welfare and socio-economic benefits. The Executive Vice-President concluded by encouraging the European organic movement to “Keep doing the good work they have been done in the past years”, contributing to solving climate and biodiversity crises.

Panel debate: More organic on the EU market
The second panel covered the topic of ‘More organic on the EU market’ with the motto ‘Empowering citizens and supply chain actors in the transition to sustainable food systems’. Nathalie Chaze, Director of food sustainability and international relations at the EU Commission’s Directorate General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE), affirmed that “We have a lot to learn from the organic movement” when it comes to collaboration. Jan Groen, founder and CEO of Green Organics, reflected on organic farming’s role, affirming that it requires “long-term planning” and as it is dependent on the activities of neighbouring farmers, there are “many variables and regulations that should be considered”.

Pierrick De Ronne, Biocoop’s President, highlighted the importance of a correct labelling system, saying “We started using the Planet Score as we found that consumers wanted to see if farmers used pesticides in the production”. On the same note, De Ronne further emphasized the crucial aspect of transparency for organic retailers in Europe and the need to act and tax harmful practices. For what concerns the 25% organic land target in Europe for 2030, Beate Huber, FiBL Europe’s President, said that “we need to scale up” and both “push and pull the market and farmland growth”. For this, restaurants and food in public kitchens provide good opportunities.

Concluding, Aina Calafat Rogers, part-time organic farmer and IFOAM Organics Europe’s Deputy Council member, addressed the issue of greenwashing and the need for a legislation, saying that “We don’t call things by their name. Everything can be called sustainable while it’s not”.

Concluding session: The CAP’s role reaching 25% organic land
Wolfgang Burtscher, Director-General of the EU Commission’s Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI) and Jan Plagge, IFOAM Organics Europe’s President Took part to a concluding session about reaching the 25% organic target through a supply chain approach.

Burtscher reminded everyone that Member States’ CAP National Strategic Plans were assessed, and the Commission had sent observation letters. On the same note he added “We looked closely at matches between the target for organic land and the budget attributed to these”. Our Director reflected on the Commission’s 25% organic land target and its importance, adding that “Such target keeps the minds of Member States focused, especially because in many Member States there is no coherence between the CAP National Strategic Plan target and budget.”

Ending the evening with thank you’s where they are due
Closing the formal part of the event, our Director called several IFOAM Organics Europe sponsors and members to the stage to receive an award for their long-term support and cooperation with the European organic movement.

These awards also aimed to symbolically thank the whole European organic supply chain for their constant work for advancing organic knowledge and making Europe more organic.

Did you miss the event? Do not worry, you can experience the event by watching the video recordings on our youtube channel, taking a look at our Twitter-thread covering all the panel sessions or our Twitter moment, read our press- release, and check out our website’s 20-year anniversary page for news, updates and pictures.

We would like to remind you that we are still celebrating our 20-year anniversary throughout 2022. If you would like to be a part of this celebration, feel free to send in your written and/or video testimonials. Contact [email protected]

This event is co-financed by the LIFE programme of the European Union, under the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA). The sole responsibility for this event lies with IFOAM Organics Europe. The CINEA is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information provided.

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