Richard Petrasek, FiBL Austria, Julia Lernoud, FiBL, Anja Vieweger, Organic Research Centre, Daniel Bartschi, Bio Suisse
Organic farming is a pioneer for sustainable agriculture. Organic food and agriculture systems positively impact biodiversity, animal welfare, soil fertility etc. and can significantly contribute to addressing the global challenges described in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, there is raising criticisms in trade, politics and science, questioning the excellence of organic farming systems. For instance, organic farms sometimes performs even worse in life cycle assessments. Organic farming associations, traders and processors are particularly in competition with other private standards, which communicate individual sustainability services such as biodiversity to consumers, to promote the sales of certified products. Global frameworks like the “Sustainability Assessment of Food and Agriculture Systems” (SAFA) – sustainability guidelines published in 2013 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) can help to structure assessments aiming to better understand strength and weaknesses of organic and non-organic farms. Another framework released by the United Nations in 2015 are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), officially known as “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” is a set of seventeen "Global Goals" with 169 targets. However, there is no method developed yet to operationalize the goals in an assessment procedure for farms. Against this background, the organic sector lacks methods to survey the sustainability performance for a large number of farms. Innovative methods are needed to measure impacts of different practices based on scientific assessments that are part of ongoing, transparent study and refinement. This approach is fully in line with the ORGANIC 3.0 strategy and supported by the organic sector.
Objectives of the Workshop
Aiming to further develop the organic sector and to generate facts on how organic farms contribute to the SDGs it is of utmost importance to further develop existing approaches. The workshop introduces the “Sustainability and Monitoring RouTine” (SMART), a multi-criteria assessment method that is operationalizing the global applicable SAFA Guidelines. Based on results of SMART applications, the potential of the method for future assessments of the SDGs is illustrated to the audience. A selection of those SDGs that are not yet or only partly covered in SMART will be presented in detail to the audience to reflect and asks for feedback from the global organic research community aiming to address the following questions:
- How are the SDGs structured and defined? Why are they relevant for the organic sector?
- How can sustainability of organic farming be assessed holistically based on the SAFA Guidelines and the SDGs?
- What are "hot spots" and relevant topics in organic farming for selected SDG targets (that are not yet / or only partially covered in SMART)
90 minutes workshop starting with a short input from an expert in sustainability assessment. Following the introductory speech the participants will split up into groups to identify hot-spots, relevant topics to be assessed for a number of preselected SDGs. Based on the results of this participatory data collection the participants will get the opportunity to be involved in the follow-up development of indicators.