News from IFOAM Organics International: View from the Vice President
The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM – Organics International) holds its flagship conference – the Organic World Congress (OWC) – every 3 years. IFOAM – Organics International convenes its Organic International General Assembly at the same time. The assembly involves thousands of organic farmers, producers, researchers, advocates and policy experts from around the world.
The last OWC, held in New Delhi in 2017, selected Rennes, France to host the 20th OWC in 2020. Due to the impact of COVID 19, however, this year’s event has been delayed 12 months and will now be held 6-10 September 2021, with the IFOAM Organic International General Assembly immediately following on 11 -12 September.
The OWC 2021 motto – “From its roots, organic inspires life” – reflects the aim to provide organic and likeminded stakeholders working toward sustainable agriculture, value chains, and consumption with an opportunity to exchange their knowledge, innovations, and experiences. The congress is a leading event for the global organic sector, and will seek to provide inspiration and momentum to all participants.
The OWC expects over 2,000 participants from at least 50 countries attending over 80 different conference sessions and workshops framed around six conference forums during its three days. The forums include:
- Leadership Forum: which will discuss and help shape the future of the organic movement
- Farmers and Advisors Forum: with a focus on sharing knowledge and initiatives from organic practitioners
- Science Forum: which will present research on the organic sector
- Supply and Value Chain Forum: which will share inspiring experiences and address work-related concerns
- Culture and Education Forum: to discuss the organic movement’s philosophical foundation and knowledge management
- Stakeholder Forum: which will promote a multi-actor approach for organic food systems.
Prior to the OWC there will be 2 days of “pre-conferences” allowing participants to take a deeper dive into issues that interest them. There will be 8 pre-conferences with themes as diverse as: Organic Animal Husbandry Systems – Their Performance, Potential, Possibilities, and Challenges; Intensifying and Qualifying Scientific Publication of Organic Agriculture Research; Building an International Network to Advance Organic Seed Systems; 30 Years of PGS Development: A Root and Branch Appraisal; and, Policies Driving Sustainable Food Systems.
The OWC 2021 will be organised together with a consortium of leading French organic organisations. It is supported by national, regional and local French institutions and partners and key research and education centres, as well as major promoters of organic agriculture in France and Europe.
To help keep the organic world connected leading up to OWC 2021, IFOAM Organics International is developing more virtual engagement opportunities, such the Global Landscape Forum Digital Forum held in early June 2020 The topic – Food without Farmers – strives to keep organic stakeholders informed and involved in the global debate before they meet again in France.
The OWC will contribute toward organic agriculture positioning itself as an agent of change that can be scaled up and harnessed to reap the benefits from regenerative (sustainable) ways of farming. It is solution-oriented and will seek to offer alternatives to global challenges such as climate change, food security, fair trade and so forth; and maximise positive impacts on people and the planet. It promises to be pragmatic, friendly, positive, and collaborative. Please participate if you can!