Workshop “Organic districts revitalizing Rural areas” during Rural Vision Week 2021 – 25 March 2021

During the Rural Vision Week: Imagining the future of Europe’s rural areas, IFOAM Organics Europe organised a fringe workshop on 25 March. IFOAM Organics Europe’s Director, Eduardo Cuoco, moderated a session on the concept of Organic Districts (or biodistricts) and planning and implementing them. Raffaele Basile, Coordinator of the Global Alliance for Organic Districts G.A.O.D shared his 15-years of experience with successful Organic Districts in Italy and worldwide. He gave an overview of the status of Organic Districts and outlined their social, economic, and ecologic benefits.

“Organic Districts could be a way to redesign local economics” said Aina Calafat Rogers presenting her work on Organic Districts in Mallorca. As international project manager for SEAE, the Spanish Society for Organic Farming and Agroecology, she spearheads the development of an Organic District while actively contributing as part time organic farmer at the same time. Her presentation highlighted both the urgent need for transformation at all levels of the food system and the positive potential of all actors working together to create a more sustainable vision of rural development.

As third member of the high-ranking speaker panel, Jaime Ferreira, head of the Board in the Portuguese association for organic farming, AGROBIO, showed the influx of Organic District developments in Portugal. “The promotion of Organic Districts in Portugal as a strategy to connect all actors, […] proves to be intelligent, contributing to the cohesion of the territory and, particularly, to the ecological transition” he pointed out, followed by outlining plans for further developing Organic Districts in the region.

After their keynote speeches, the experts answered questions from the participating audience, that showed strong interest in Organic District. The experts and audience emphasised the debate on access to land and challenges in implementation. The expert pointed out that long term engagement is crucial for successful implementation, and Aina Calafat Rogers stressed that Organic Districts “give people hope and that is something that is very much needed in these times”.

The speakers welcomed and highlighted the importance given to Organic Districts in the recently published Organic Action Plan, in which Members States are “encourage[d] to support the development and the implementation of ‘Bio districts’”. On this, Eduardo Cuoco added that Organic Districts’ concept involves multiple stakeholder interaction which leads to a high variability in the design but it is united by shared values and goals.

Do you want to find out more about Organic Districts and their implementation? Our members can check out our expert’s presentations on our member extranet. Other interested parties can visit the website of the international network of Eco-Regions. For information about what you can gain from being a member, read our membership page and contact membership@organicseurope.bio.

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