Review of events
French and European food systems need to be transformed to address health, environmental and social challenges. However, the current policy measures fostering this transition are not ambitious enough, as their socio-economic costs are generally deemed to be too high.
In this context, IDDRI, a think tank aiming at facilitating the transition towards sustainable development, developed a new methodological framework combining environmental and socio-economic modelling to identify policy drivers for a just transition of food systems by 2030. They present this framework in the study ‘Towards a just transition of food systems – Challenges and policy levers for France’.
Based on the indicative decarbonisation pathway for the agricultural sector from the French National Low-Carbon Strategy, IDDRI develops two different scenarios for the evolution of the French food system to assess their impacts by 2030 on two key sectors: dairy cattle and arable crops. Together these account for 70% of the utilised agricultural area (UAA), 52% of value creation in agriculture and 40% of value creation in the food industry.
On 27 May, IDDRI held a webinar to present the key messages. Key stakeholders of the European food systems discussed the policy implications of the study. The study’s authors, Pierre-Marie Aubert, IDDRI, Baptiste Gardin, IDDRI, and Christophe Alliot, BASIC, were joined by IFOAM Organics Europe’s President, Jan Plagge. They made up the panel, along with Emmanuel Faber, O2PB Chairman and chDanone former Chairperson & CEO; Christiane Lambert, President of COPA-COGECA; and Tassos Haniotis, Director of Strategy, Simplification and Policy Analysis, DG AGRI.
This publication is co-financed by the LIFE programme of the European Union, under the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME). This publication only reflects the views of the authors and its sole responsibility lies with IFOAM Organics Europe. EASME is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information provided.
TP Organics is part of the strategic working group of the Standing Committee on Agricultural Research on Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems (SCAR-AKIS). It participated in the two-day online meeting of the 6th SCAR-AKIS meeting of the 5th mandate on digitalisation in the CAP strategic plans and the development process of the candidate partnerships on agroecology and food systems.
Day 1: CAP strategic plans & digitalisation
On the first day, Member States were informed about drafting the CAP strategic plans, including interventions, result indicators, the role of digitalisation (a cross-cutting objective) and digitalisation strategies of different Member States were presented, as was the Horizon Europe candidate Partnership ‘Agriculture of data’. The latter, to be launched in 2022/23, will use the possibilities data technologies offer in the field of environmental observation to provide support to improve the sustainability performance of agriculture, and to improve the capacities for policy monitoring and evaluation.
Doris Marquardt, Programme officer at DG AGRI, European Commission, pointed out that digitalisation can contribute to all CAP strategic objectives and all types of farming, including organic and agroecology. The digitalisation strategy needs to specify under which conditions digital technologies contribute, to which extent and to which objectives. The Farm to Fork strategy should be the reference. Digital technologies cannot replace actors to increase structural diversity but can help organic farming achieve a better cost balance. Tailored solutions for agroecology and small(er) farms are needed for digitalisation as an enabler to achieve environmental and socio-economic sustainability, enabling the community itself to create the most suitable solution. Data sharing, capacity building, enabling exchange of information and experience, facilitating investments, and promoting targeted research and innovation are key to enable uptake. Technical innovation has to go hand in hand with new business models and social innovation. Digital skills and avoiding lock-in effects (like dependency of farmers on the use of certain products) were addressed in the proposal on data governance (European Commission, 2020).
A central knowledge reservoir for agricultural innovation
EURAKNOS and EUREKA, EU research projects in which IFOAM Organics Europe is a partner, were mentioned in the context of digital tools to exchange practical knowledge. These two projects will provide standards for national databases that want to connect with the EU database. The easily accessible, EU-wide, centralised knowledge reservoir platform they are building for agricultural innovation and results from EU multi-actor projects will use advanced search tools, will be multilingual and will offer more possibilities and interactivity than the EIP-AGRI website.
Day 2: SCAR strategic working groups on agroecology & food systems
Day 2 was dedicated to the presentation of the SCAR strategic working groups on agroecology (SCAR-AE) and on food systems (SCAR Food Systems). In the framework of agroecology, the thematic network AFINET on agroforestry was presented. TP Organics and IFOAM Organics Europe are both observers of SCAR-AE, and TP Organics is part of the Task Forces 1, 2 and 6 of SCAR-AE to develop a common understanding of agroecology and living labs, identify research needs and ensure collaboration with relevant actors.
In terms of the Food Systems Partnership, TP Organics is part of the core group writing the partnership proposal (template or action plan) for the European Commission. The partnership will address challenges and thematic focus areas with a food systems approach, accelerating the transition toward safe and healthy diets that are sustainably produced in resilient EU and global food systems. Partners presented the progress and recent activities of the two SCAR groups and explored potential for collaboration with SCAR-AKIS in view of developing the two partnerships. In the afternoon, six food system projects that are working on short food supply chains and leveraging public procurement for sustainable food systems were presented: AgroBridges, COACH, Cocoreado, CO-Fresh, FAIRCHAIN, and Ploutos.
TP Organics, the European Technology Platform for organic food and farming and agroecology, is officially recognised by the European Commission for giving input in research and innovation policy and programmes. IFOAM Organics Europe hosts its secretariat.
This communication is co-financed by the LIFE programme of the European Union, under the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME). The sole responsibility for this communication lies with IFOAM Organics Europe. EASME is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information provided.
On 10 June, the symposium on animal husbandry and grazing management in organic farming took place, organized by the Austrian Rural Network in cooperation with the Austrian Chamber of Agriculture, our member Bio Austria, the umbrella organisation of control bodies and the agricultural research centre Raumberg-Gumpenstein.
More than 500 participants from a total of 13 EU member states attended the online event. In addition to numerous farmers, representatives from associations, politics, control, advice and research also took part. Our President Jan Plagge was there too, presenting the perspective of the organic sector.
The aim of the event was to present the opportunities and challenges linked to the implementation of the new EU organic regulation in Europe from the point of view of practice, advice and control, to shed light on areas of interpretation of the new legal provisions and to show possible solutions and perspectives for practice.
Attendees listened to specialist lectures on further development of organic agriculture on the European market in accordance with the EU Green Deal and Organic Action Plan. They also attended a panel discussing practical solutions in line with the EU law and considering regional conditions.
The online symposium made brought together the right people to talk about possible implementation strategies for the future of organic farming and, in particular, point out viable options on grazing management. Speakers clearly emphasised the need for a regionally adapted implementation of European legal requirements with company-specific flexibility. The well-being of humans and animals and creating fair competitive market opportunities are essential factors for successful development of organic agriculture in Europe.
In its EU Green Deal, the European Commission committed to the making the EU’s agriculture more environmentally friendly. A crucial objective is increasing the EU’s share of organic land to 25% by 2030. At the same time, the new Organic Regulation (EU) 2018/848 and its implementing provisions will come into force on January 1, 2022. In EU Member States, adjustments to the legal provisions for organic production are required at the national level, the implementation of which is associated with opportunities and challenges, especially with regard to organic animal husbandry.
Climate change policy debates fail to consider the interconnected nature of food systems and involve a wide range of actors. This is why the FoodSHIFT2030 projec held a public webinar on the impact city-wide approaches could have on putting food on the climate agenda.
Agriculture should be considered in the climate change policy debate. On the one hand, agriculture and sectors related to it, like food and feed transport, feed import, fertilizer production, etc., are responsible for up to 30% of the EU and global greenhouse gases emissions. On the other hand, agriculture can have a positive impact on climate as soil is a crucial carbon sink if managed under sustainable farming practises.
FoodSHIFT’s webinar started with a presentation by Nourish Scotland, presenting their Glasgow Food and Climate Declaration, which they elaborated on with like-minded organisations (IPES-Food, FAO, WWF, URBANACT, ICLEI, etc.). They issued their Declaration to help commit subnational governments to tackle the climate emergency through integrated food policies and call on national governments to act ahead of the COP26 (1-12 November in Glasgow). Cities and subnational governments can sign the Declaration on www.glasgowdeclaration.org.
The webinar continued with Glasgow Good Food Partnerships, which launched a 10-year work plan to promote circular economy to reduce food waste in businesses and promote affordable, fresh, and healthy food systems in one of the UK’s most inequal cities.
The webinar then visited Barcelona to discuss the Barcelona Sustainable Food Capital 2021 project aimed at increasing integrative policies at the city level. The project is inspired from the Milano Urban Food Policy Pact.
Finally, the FoodSHIFT’s Barcelona Tech Food 3.0. Lab highlighted its work promoting both innovation in food and farming systems and citizen and bottom-up driven approaches. The Lab is currently implementing three projects:
- ROMI, using robotics in micro farms;
- Grow Observatory, collecting data on soil pollution and contamination; and
- Siscod, defining how local restaurants and inhabitants can reduce food waste through circular economy.
FoodSHIFT2030 is a Horizon 2020 project promoting food systems innovations in nine cities across Europe. More information about the 9nice FoodSHIFT Labs is available on the FoodSHIFT2030 website. Follow the project on social media using @FoodSHIFT2030 on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.
IFOAM Organics Europe contributes to the conceptual framework for further development of governance strategies and food policy strategies. We will also disseminate project outputs within the organic network and at our main events.
FoodSHIFT 2030 has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement number 862716. This communication only reflects the author’s view. The Research Executive Agency is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information provided.
On 15-17 June, all EUREKA’s partners virtually met at the project’s annual meeting to update and exchange about the project’s progress.
As IFOAM Organics Europe, we are a partner in the EU Horizon 2020 project which is developing a centralised, open-source e-platform (‘EU FarmBook’) for collecting and sharing the many different types of end-user material produced by Horizon 2020 multi-actor projects. As a project partner, we engages the organic sector in developing the FarmBook.
Meet Marta, the organic persona
During the first day of the meeting, personas, fictional representations of typical users, and their user-journeys were introduced to the project partners. 16 personas representing farmers, agricultural advisors and foresters and forestry advisors were created based on user research, including both qualitative and quantitative data. Marta represents the organic farmer persona. Visit the EUREKA website to meet other personas and their user journeys.
Next step: User tests
Each feature of the EU FarmBook platform will be connected to the persona’s needs. A user manual was presented, which will be finalized after collecting feedback from the partners. How to upload a knowledge object to feed the platform was tested and discussed in an interactive session. As a next step, user tests will take place in July/August to ensure information on the platform can be found easily, so stay tuned!
Visit the EUREKA website and subscribe to the newsletter for project updates and related news and stories.
The EUREKA project is an EU-funded action that aims to help ensure the longer-term and wider use by farmers, foresters and other rural businesses of the practical knowledge and innovative solutions that are generated by Horizon 2020 multi-actor projects. IFOAM Organics Europe’s role in the project is to make sure that the future FarmBook suits the needs of the organic actors, and to engage the organic sector in its development.
EUREKA has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 862790
This year’s edition of our European Organic Congress took place online and live from Lisbon on 16-18 June 2021. More than 660 participants tuned in to ‘Organics’ contribution to the European Green Deal’, aimed to inspire participants on how the agri-food sector enhances the transition to a more sustainable food system.
Day 1: Opening, CAP & organic farming in Portugal
Opening: End of the CAP negotiations?
Jan Plagge, President of IFOAM Organics Europe, and Maria do Céu Antunes, Portuguese Minister of Agriculture, welcomed participants on the first day of the three-day-event. Maria do Céu Antunes opened the Congress thanking farmers for their crucial role during the pandemic. Minister do Céu Antunes also reminded the audience and speakers of the priorities of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union for agriculture to promote a resilient Europe, especially as the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) negotiations are coming to an end. She highlighted that organic is part of the solution to reach a more sustainable and balanced food and farming system, stating policymakers need to ensure its support by boosting both organic production and consumption.
Link CAP to EU Farm to Fork & Biodiversity strategies & involve movement nationally IFOAM Organics Europe’s Director Eduardo Cuoco kicked off the first panel assessing whether CAP and CAP strategic plans are in line with the EU Green Deal objectives, especially the 25% organic land proposed in the EU Farm to Fork Strategy. Bruno Dimas, Deputy Director-General for Planning and Policy at the Portuguese Ministry of Agriculture, stated the CAP reform could be sealed by the end of the month. Tassos Haniotis, Director for Strategy, Simplification and Policy Analysis at the Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Commission, assured the Commission was very involved in the negotiations and drafting the CAP proposal, acknowledging previous versions of the CAPs lacked environmental ambition.
Celia Nyssens, Policy Officer for Agriculture at the European Environmental Bureau, Aina Calafat Rogers, Deputy Council member of IFOAM Organics Europe and Jan Plagge emphasized the necessity to stop business as usual, quit the current status quo in strategic plans and finally give public money to public goods. They called for the CAP co-legislators to ensure the CAP Strategic Plans Regulation mentions the need for Member States to develop and adequately support organic farming – which the Commission identified as part of the solution to reach the Green Deal’s ambitious environmental targets. A poll among the congress’ attendees found that most audience members were unsatisfied with their own involvement in the national consultation process on the CAP strategic plans.
On the ground: Organic farming in Portugal
The afternoon session was dedicated to organic farming in Portugal, addressing the main challenges organic conversion entails when it comes to achieving the 25% organic land target by 2030 as well as the relationship between organic farming and public health. Jaime Carvalho Ferreira, Chairman of the Board at AGROBIO, welcomed participants and moderated the panel discussion. Gonçalo de Freitas Leal, Director, Portuguese Directorate-General for Agriculture & Rural Development, gave an overview of the organic situation in Portugal and presented the Portuguese national strategy for organic production which entered into force in 2017.
Fátima Ferreira, Maternal Health & Midwifery Nurse with a master’s degree in organic farming, elaborated on organic as a potential public health indicator, based on scientific evidence showing that pesticides are endocrine disruptors linked to several illnesses and diseases. The panel also touched on the challenges met when transitioning to organic and projects helping further develop organic and climate-friendly practices in agriculture.
Day 2: Climate mitigation & sequestration and sustainable food systems
Tackling climate & biodiversity crisis requires a systemic approach
The second day started with a session on ‘Climate mitigation and sequestration in agriculture: What is the right level of ambition?’, moderated by Eric Gall, Deputy Director and Policy Manager at IFOAM Organics Europe. During his opening speech, Christian Holzleitner, Head of Unit for Land Use and Finance for Innovation at the Directorate-General for Climate Action at the European Commission, presented the Commission’s ‘Fit for 55’ legislative package to overhaul the EU climate policy architecture as well as the carbon farming initiative.
Joined by Pierre-Marie Aubert, Senior Researcher and Coordinator of the European Agriculture Initiative at IDDRI, Thomas Legge, Land Use Director at the European Climate Foundation, Kurt Sannen, Chair of Interest Group of Organic Farmers (IGOF) at IFOAM Organics Europe and Shefali Sharma, Director at Institute for Agriculture and Trade policy’s (IATP) European office, all panellists agreed on the necessity to have a systemic approach to tackle the climate and biodiversity crises jointly.
However, Thomas Legge warned participants to remain cautious about the potential of carbon sequestration in agricultural soil as carbon sequestration in farming cannot be used as offsets in other sectors. Focusing on policy levers, Shefali Sharma and Kurt Sannen pleaded for political support for practices mitigating climate change, more specifically for CAP strategic plans to support organic conversion and nature-based solutions removing carbon from the atmosphere and helping the EU achieve climate neutrality.
Sustainable food systems require true cost of food
The second session of the day moderated by Silvia Schmidt, Food Policy Officer at IFOAM Organics Europe, focused on sustainable food systems. In a video message, Greens/EFA MEP Claude Gruffat said the holistic approach offered by the EU Farm to Fork strategy calls for practical change in both farming production methods and consumption. Though, to reach 25% of organic land by 2030, he believes we will need much greater budgetary resources as today organic covers 8.5% of EU land but only receives 1.8% of the CAP budget.
Nathalie Chaze, Director for Food sustainability and International Relations at the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety at the European Commission, asserted sustainable public procurement will be a powerful tool to promote consumption of healthier and more sustainable food products, as part of a legislative proposal expected in 2023. Both her and Dora Drexler, Board Vice-President of IFOAM Organics Europe agreed the Organic Action Plan was a milestone document.
For the European organic movement, the 25% organic target is ambitious but achievable with right policies measures and other initiatives in place and the new organic action plan indeed includes several actions that may greatly contribute to achieving this target, if the actions are adequately followed up on, at all relevant levels. During her intervention, Faustine Bas-Defossez, External Impact Director at the Institute for European Environmental Policy, highlighted for instance some needed CAP-related actions to rebalance support to food and help implement the EU Green Deal’s objectives. Wrapping up, Tobias Bandel, Managing Director of Soil & More Impacts, reminded the audience that sustainability is about the ability to sustain, and companies can already play their part by internalizing as much as possible the externalities though true cost accounting tools.
Day 3: EU Organic Regulation, rural development & closing
EU Organic Regulation: Harmonization & local adaptation
Of course, the European Organic Congress is not complete without a session on the new Organic Regulation. IFOAM Organics Europe’s Regulation Manager, Emanuele Busacca, moderated the first session on the last day. Elena Panichi, Head of the Organics Unit at the European Commission, informed participants on the development of the secondary legislation, gave an overview of the published acts and next steps from now until January 2022 and beyond.
Marian Blom, Board Vice-President of IFOAM Organics Europe, and Michel Reynaud, Board member and sector representative for certification of IFOAM Organics Europe, explained the expected changes for producers, processors and traders and described the expected ones on controls, certification and international trade.
One of the take-aways from this session is that a balance between harmonization at EU level and local adaptation at regional level will be crucial for a successful implementation of the regulation. All panellists also agreed that a constructive dialogue and continuous communication between the Commission and the stakeholders will be key elements in the implementation of the New EU Organic Regulation. Did you know IFOAM Organics Europe is drafting guidelines for the new Organic Regulation to guide our members and organic stakeholders? Stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks.
A long-term vision for rural development & biodistricts’ potential
This year’s European Organic Congress ended with a session on rural development and a European long-term vision for rural areas led by Eva Berckmans, Communications Manager at IFOAM Organics Europe. They informed participants that, as European organic movement, we contributed to the Commission’s stakeholder consultation, reiterating that organic businesses stimulate rural development by employing more people than conventional farms and providing ecosystem services like better health of soil, plants, animals and humans.
After a video presentation of Froidefontaine Farm, a good example of rural development, by its founder, Alexis de Liedekerke, a high-level panel composed by Silvia Michelini, Director for Rural Development at the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development at the European Commission, Doris Letina, Vice-President at European Council of Young Farmers, Luis Saldanha, Chairman of the Board at National Young Farmers Confederation (CNJ) and Salvatore Basile, President of the International Network of Eco Regions, further discussed the Commission’s long-term vision for rural areas. They explored initiatives such as organic districts (or biodistricts), living labs and lighthouses farms potential to contribute to the development and attractiveness of rural area, as well as the success of the Organic Action Plan and 25% organic land target by 2030.
Organic farmers are leaders of sustainable agriculture of the future
We were delighted to have Janusz Wojciechowski, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development at the European Commission, close this year’s edition of our European Organic Congress together with our President Jan Plagge. The Commissioner said “organic farmers are the leaders of the sustainable agriculture of the future. We have to aim for an agriculture that combines best practices for biodiversity, climate mitigation and high animal welfare standards”. He also called on us to keep on sharing best practices, lead by example and motivate Member States to develop organic farming.
We would like to thank our speakers, participants, technical consultants, co-organisers, sponsors, supporters, and media partners for making this congress possible.
This event is co-financed by the LIFE programme of the European Union, under the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME). The sole responsibility for this event lies with IFOAM Organics Europe. The EASME is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information provided.
Following a successful edition of the hybrid European Organic Congress 2021, we are happy to share the ten key take-aways from the Congress. These include the sessions recordings, so those of you who could not make it can revisit the event and learn from our high-level policymakers and expert attendees.
- Participants and high-level speakers from the European Commission, European Parliament and Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union agree that organic farming is part of the solution to reach the European Green Deal’s objectives and EU Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies’ targets.
- To reach the EU’s 25% organic land target laid out in the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies, co-legislators of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) must ensure CAP strategic plans regulation mentions the need to develop and adequately support organic farming.
- The new European Organic Action Plan is a great step to promote organic production and consumption across the EU. To ensure its success, each Member State needs to develop a national plan drawing on a comprehensive analysis of the organic sector, incentives, clear deadlines and a national organic land target.
- Biodistricts can contribute to developing rural areas and reaching the 25% organic land target by 2030.
- We need a systemic approach to tackle the climate and biodiversity crises. Organic farming is part of the solution to transition to a European food and farming system that is resilient and mitigate its effects on the environment.
- The new EU Organic Regulation will apply from 1 January 2022 and bring major changes for organic operators. To ensure successful implementation, a balance between harmonization at EU level and adaptation at regional level is crucial, without derogating from the organic principles.
- Many farmers, food processors and retailers are already making Europe more organic through inspiring initiatives that enhance organic production along the entire value chain – from farm to fork. Check them out on www.euorganic2030.bio.
- More than 660 participants from all over Europe and the world attended this hybrid Congress. The three most frequently mentioned keywords of our audience were cooperation, inspiration and ambition!
- Did you miss the chance to take part or do you want to relive the Congress? Watch the congress videos, go through our Twitter Moments, and revisit #EOC2021.
- A heart-felt ‘Thank you’ to our members, speakers, participants, technical consultants, co-organisers, sponsors, funders and media partners! 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 europeanorganiccongress.bio and following @OrganicsEurope on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. IFOAM Organics Europe will post updates about the Congress with #EUOrganic2030 and #EOC2022.
Feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about the congress.