Organic Innovating Sustainable Food Systems: Ten take-aways of the European Organic Congress 2023

In a month dedicated to harvesting the fruits of our labour – in the fields and at the EU Organic Day & Awards – we met with the organic movement at our 2023 European Organic Congress

We would like to thank our partners and sponsors for making it happen! In particular: our member and co-organiser Ecovalia; our institutional supporters the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Andalusia Ministry of Agriculture, Fish, Water and Rural Development, and the Córdoba Province Government; our sponsors Aboca, Caixabank, Campiña Verde, Green Organics, NaNa Bio, Naturland, Rapunzel, CSQA, Koppert, Valoritalia, Suolo e Salute, CAAE, CEiA3, Crisara, Organic Food Iberia, econatur, Interbio Nouvelle Aquitaine, SEO BirdLife, Trichodex; as well as our media partners Bio Eco Actual and Eurofresh Distribution.

If you were among participants, we hope you enjoyed the congress and the networking! We would appreciate your feedback on it through our evaluation form.

Read our ten key take-aways if you want to relive the event or want to get an idea about what high-level panellists & organic representatives discussed. 

  1. Participants from 24 countries attended the Congress in the gorgeous city of Córdoba. The organic sector has clear targets and is determined to leave the planet in good shape for the future and to stay connected to tackle the current environmental and social issues. Through organic we can transform the food system: reducing pesticides, boosting biodiversity, improving quality of soils and increase water storage. 
  2. The future is uncertain due to biodiversity, climate and political crises we are facing. There are elections in many countries, so the political climate is changing alongside our planet’s. In these circumstances it is important to remember that organic offers a systemic solution to environmental issues, resolving many of them at once. This is cross-cutting political preferences. 
  3. Panellists and high-level speakers from the European Commission, European Parliament and local governments agree that change is upon us – politically and climatically – but the 25% target of organic land by 2030 remains a part of the solution. 
  4. Many speakers reiterated organic’s systemic approach. It is a means to provide food that tackle complex issues like the climate and biodiversity crises and fairness in the supply chain. Organic producers do not use quick-fixes but rather transforms the food system in its entirety and in the long run with benefits for soil, water, biodiversity, and environmental & human health. 
  5. Our panel on plant breeding techniques stressed that resilience comes from a healthy and diverse agrifood system. The sustainability claims of new genomic techniques (new GMOs) are still only hypothetical promises and bring along risks of increased pesticide resistance, biodiversity loss and floods of patents, making growers and breeders’ access to seeds increasingly difficult. Organic breeding is using what is available in nature and makes more existing varieties (and the ecosystem) more resilient.  EU legislation must protect GMO-free and organic production from contamination, through mandatory traceability all along the production chain and consumers labelling, which are the only way to envisage a real “coexistence”. 
  6. A panel of (grand)children of organic pioneers talked about how their parents raised them with a heart for organic’s principles and shared how they ensure generational renewal in their companies. They stressed the importance of engaging along generations and sharing these principles. If this particularly speaks to you, discuss youth in organic with us on 10 October
  7. We heard from many innovative examples in the organic supply chain. A few of the remarkable regional initiatives are Portugal’s Biodistrict Idanha Nova (EU Organic Award 2023 winner!) and the French regional organic labels. On the market-side we learned from retailers what they do to increase fairness along the supply chain, increase organic sales and nudge consumers to buy organic. 
  8. There are many opportunities to grow organic supply and demand. Governments at all levels can encourage sustainable public procurement. This has many benefits to those preparing the food and us eating it (as well as resilience of the ecosystem). The organic sector can use EU promotion policies to increase visibility of EU organic products. 
  9. The organic targets 4 EU project has been creating models to reach the EU’s target of 25% organic land by 2030. Regardless of the different models, the project participants agreed that growing the organic sector should happen in line with the principles of organic
  10. Once again, a heart-felt ‘Thank you’ to our members, speakers, participants, co-organisers, sponsors, funders, media partners and technical support! You made this Congress possible and exciting. 

Stay tuned about the date and location of the next edition of the European Organic Congress by visiting www.europeanorganiccongress.bio and following @OrganicsEurope on TwitterLinkedInInstagram and Facebook.  

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