Harmonization and Equivalence

Organic agriculture and trade afford the world a high level of agro-ecosystem services and present social and economic opportunities for people, especially those in need of food security and ways out of poverty.

Among the foremost challenges for further development of organic agriculture is a labyrinth of regulatory requirements that deny market access to many organic producers, especially small producers in developing countries.

IFOAM has worked for many years on the issue of harmonization and equivalence as a way to reduce technical barriers to organic trade. Since 2003, IFOAM has implemented the ITF Project (International Task Force on Harmonization and Equivalence in Organic Agriculture) in collaboration with FAO and UNCTAD from 2003 - 2008, as well as the GOMA Project (Global Organic Market Access) from 2009 - 2012.

Tools of Facilitation
To facilitate harmonization and equivalence, two tools have been developed and promoted under the above projects:

The Guide for Assessing Equivalence
of Standards and Technical Regulations (EquiTool)

The International Requirements
for Organic Certification Bodies (IROCB)

Under the GOMA Project, the EquiTool has been further developed to include as a new Annex the Common Objectives and Requirements of Organic Standards (COROS), which is also used in the context of the IFOAM Family of Standards. The Family of Standards is IFOAM’s main instrument to promote harmonization and multilateral equivalence through assessments of all standards and regulations against one common international reference (the COROS).

Common Objectives and Requirements of Organic Standards

Policy Brief
Furthermore, IFOAM provides advice to governments and national organic movements on standard development and on harmonization and equivalence issues. Policy recommendations have been formulated under the follwing IFOAM Policy Brief.

“How Governments can regulate imports of organic inputs
based on the concepts of harmonization and equivalence”


Back to Value Chain
See also the IFOAM Organic Guarantee System
See also the IFOAM Best Practice Program