Jennifer Chang

Candidature Statement

My first contact with IFOAM and the global organic movements was in early 2008 when I started working at the Korea Bidding Committee for the 2011 Organic World Congress. This became a crucial point of my continuous involvement in the local and regional organic movements - going from the Korea Bidding Committee to the coordinator of the 2011 OWC Organizing Committee, then to my current position as Executive Director of IFOAM Asia.

For the past five years, it was my task to re-build IFOAM ASIA as the umbrella organization of the organic agriculture communities and stakeholders in Asia. The most important work was to unite the major stakeholders in the region, to identify new areas where IFOAM should play a bigger role and to stay financially viable. I strove to build up networks with organic groups, like-minded movements, local governments, researchers and the younger generation to expand the base of IFOAM in Asia and to bring the strategies of IFOAM closer to its membership and relevant stakeholders. Membership in IFOAM Asia grew from 85 members (2013) to 214 (May 2017).

And with IFOAM Asia at the forefront, there were two areas where we felt that IFOAM should have a bigger role, and we organized the “Asian Local Governments for Organic Agriculture (ALGOA)” to support the local governments to translate international and national policies towards local organic agriculture development. The Annual ALGOA Summit and the ALGOA Organic Foundation Courses undertaken with the Organic Academy maximized exchanges and training in organic agriculture for the representatives from local governments, IFOAM Asia affiliates and partners. Please see more at www.organicgovts.com

Another area that needed to be addressed urgently was to involve the younger generation in the organic movement –  and the “IFOAM Asia Organic Youth Forum” was established for this very purpose. It is perhaps the most dynamic and exuberant project – most of the young people who attended the Forums said that they felt a common identity and pride in being part of IFOAM!  Local governments in the region are showing overwhelming interest and are promising support to host future Youth Forums. 

I evaluate the ten years I served in the interests of IFOAM as the most constructive years of my life. The organic movement embodies all the principles and values I hold true and this belief upheld me in the face of limited financial, human and organizational resources in re-establishing IFOAM Asia from scratch. The organic movement has now become my life – I breathe, eat, sleep and live organic!

I am putting myself forward as a candidate for the World Board as I would like to continue to bring IFOAM closer to its membership in Asia and to other parts of the world – to further promote the growth of IFOAM as an organization and implement its strategies withactions. IFOAM should no longer be seen as distant and should be in the center of the organic and other like-minded movements.

My experience in working with organic stakeholders and on issues related to organic farming in Asia will prove to be valuable in linking up with other organic stakeholders in developing countries especially in Africa and Latin America. And on this note, I would like to contribute to the strengthening of INOFO by solidifying networks among the farmers’ organizations as I believe that farmers are the core in the organic movement. I would be more than willing to represent the voices of the organic farmers in various regional and international fora where my work experience at the UN may prove to be an asset.

I would also like to replicate the successful experience of ALGOA in other developing countries. Often, the smallest and the poorest of the local government units are the greatest proponents of organic farming as it regarded as a comprehensive solution to alleviate hunger and poverty, to safeguard the environment and to create a more equitable society.

As someone who has been translating IFOAM policies into realities and practical solutions, I would also like expand the Organic Food Systems Program to other local communities as I believe it is a practical manifestation of Organic 3.0. It involves multi-stakeholders from scientists, governments, farmers, consumers, etc. and positions organic systems as part of the multiple solutions for the challenges facing us today.

I would also like to focus on the strengthening of participatory guarantee systems to allow more direct farmer and consumer partnership - a partnership based on trust between the two parties, to guarantee a higher income for the farmers and fresher and safer food for the consumers.

I believe that my practical experience in running IFOAM Asia and the implementation of IFOAM strategies will prove very useful in the formulation of future policies of IFOAM, to which I will assert myself with full dedication and passion.

Background of the Candidate

I have more than 25 years of living and working in foreign countries especially in Asia and Europe. This has given me an ability to blend and immerse myself easily in different cultures and languages. I also have more than thirty years of experience of championing and contributing to the social movements in the local and international arena, as I believe that “life without causes is life without effect,” as said once by Paulo Coelho.

I have been happily married for 22 years to a fellow student activist with two wonderful children and we all live together with my super-woman octogenarian mother in the outskirts of Seoul, South Korea.