IFOAM – Organics International is organizing the Organic World Congress, the global gathering for the organic movement, an event that will offer a truly global, diverse space that inspires positive change through knowledge exchange, learning, and the formulation of organic, sustainable solutions, for a better tomorrow for all. About 600 speakers have confirmed their participation. We spoke to Louise Luttikholt, Executive Director of IFOAM – Organics International about the upcoming event.

Louise Luttikholt IFOAM

How is preparation for the Organic World Congress 2021 going? 

It has been a little bit of a rollercoaster. It was a difficult decision to first postpone the edition planned for 2020, and now we see there’s a majority of people who won’t be able to come due to the pandemic. Nonetheless, it looks like some European participants might come. Mainly, the congress will be a virtual event. Now, we are finding a way to properly integrate online and off-line so that there is not a feeling of two parallel congresses. Whatever people discuss online should also be discussed in Rennes.

What can we expect from the congress?

The message from the congress will be positive, a message of resilience looking to a new future. I think in this one and a half year of the pandemic, the mindset that people have about global challenges has changed. Maybe we are at a tipping point in social behaviour. At some time, women also got the right to vote and just 5 years later people said: “how could we have ever forbidden women to vote. This is one example of a social tipping point that led to greater change. Who knows, and I say this with great caution because COVID caused a lot of suffering, but maybe it will also be a social tipping point.  Maybe it will raise awareness of how important it is to treat nature and natural resources with greater respect and safeguard them and the health of our planet for future generations.  So, in that sense, I think we will feel some of that at the Organic World Congress; many contributions, even if they were prepared before the pandemic, will be put in this context. And, we will also have our plenary speakers coming from that angle.

“Maybe we are at a tipping point in social behaviour”

We will hear from many different sectors in the organic community. There will also be an opportunity for the farmers to show their work and  learn from each other. Once again, we will be holding our global action day #IGrowYourFood, to celebrate and also honour the farmers who grow our food. We really hope for even more participants than last year. We want to increase our impact every year when we celebrate this day.

The new IFOAM – Organics International world board will be elected this year

There will also be a part of the Congress dedicated to culture and education because we understand that everything we do is related to a perception and our habits about food, and how it is embedded in our cultures and even in our landscapes.

All in all, whether it is digital or in person, I think we will all get a feeling of hope. I think that is what we want to bring across, without being vague or visionary, because this hope that we have is based on real examples that we can see right now. Examples of how organic is of benefit to people and the planet.  We can build on all of this work for a better future.  The Organic World Congress will be an excellent opportunity to take this up and we are looking forward to it.

Will different movements that are engaged in other ways of sustainable food production, such as Fairtrade, be included in congress discussions?

Yes! We will not be sitting there speaking to the organic sector alone. We have also invited what we call like-minded movements and they will also bring in other perspectives. Many of the farmers that work in smallholder groups are at the same time organic and Fairtrade, and they do that for good reasons because farming is not just the production system but is also a way of life and is even a basis for communities. And so that is where organic and Fairtrade come together. For example, we worked well together when it came to the group certification, because both Fairtrade and organic are concerned about farmers having market access in a fair way.

Organic World Congress

Author: Oriol Urrutia, Co-Editor

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