Study: Shift to organic agriculture vital for sustainable food systems

Study: Shift to organic agriculture vital for sustainable food systems


By Steven Maxwell

WADDINXVEEN, Netherlands — If we are to maintain sustainable food systems for future generations and tackle the many challenges facing our planet, including the climate crisis, governments would be wise to embrace organic farming practices. This is one of the principal findings of a new, independent study that has found that adopting organic agriculture will be crucial to meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs).

The report, Organic Agriculture and the Sustainable Development Goals, which is being launched today (25 September) to mark the official anniversary of the UN SDGs, argues that switching to organic agriculture can achieve eight of the 17 SDGs. These include several of the most important goals, including taking urgent action to combat climate action and its impacts, protecting biodiversity, addressing hunger and ensuring clean water for all.

Commissioned by Dutch organic specialist Eosta, the study, which was carried out by Simon de Schaetzen at the Netherlands-based University of Twente and will be shared across the global organic sector, looks at how organic agriculture can contribute towards meeting the UN SDGs. Based on meta-analysis, the research found that a move towards organic must play a central role if the UN objectives are to be met and we have any chance of tackling the many grave challenges facing the planet.

The report comes exactly four years after 150 world leaders adopted a global transformative agenda for sustainable development, committing to work together to achieve 17 core goals by 2030 to benefit the generations of today and tomorrow. The SDGs build on the Millennium Development Goals and are closely interconnected, meaning success in one can directly affect the success of others.

Practical solutions

Eosta CEO Volkert Engelsman said the global organic sector will be using the report to inform policy makers, retailers and the public about the need to shift towards organic agriculture. However, when it comes to achieving the SDG’s, he believes we are not moving fast enough. Engelsman said: “Right now we are in the middle of a huge climate, health and biodiversity crises and it is important we focus on realistic practical solutions. We have always been convinced about the positive contribution of organic agriculture and wanted the independent research to look at the issue. Although not surprised, we are delighted with the conclusion that organic has so much of a positive impact”.

He continued: “Together with other organic organisations in Europe, Asia and North America, we will be using the report to further promote and develop sustainable organic agriculture all around the globe.”

Based upon more than 50 scientific publications, including numerous FAO and U.N. studies, the report concludes that organic agriculture can play an important role in achieving no less than eight of the UN 17 SDGs. These include: Zero Hunger (SDG 2), Good Health and Wellbeing (SDG 3), Clean Water and Sanitation (SDG 6), Decent Work and Economic Growth (SDG 8), Responsible Consumption and Production (SDG 12), Climate Action (SDG 13), Life Below Water (SDG 14) and Life on Land (SDG 15).

Together with a broad coalition of organic associations including IFOAM, Naturland (Germany), Organic Sweden, Pro Luomu (Finland), Organic Denmark, Bio Austria, Bioforum Vlaanderen and Wallonie, Irish Organic Board, Bionext, Assobio (Italy), Ecovia (Spain) Oikos (Norway) and numerous organisations in the US, Canada and Malaysia, Eosta will not only be promoting the results but also making them available for everyone in the organic sector that wants to help share the positive proactive sustainable story of organic agriculture.



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