The worldwide Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) community convened on September 6-7, 2021 at the event "30 Years of PGS Development: A Root and Branch Appraisal". This virtual gathering was organised by IFOAM - Organics International, Nature & Progrès and CIRAD, within the framework of the 20th Organic World Congress. Here you can find some of our reflections and highlights of this event.
It's been 17 years since we all met
The occasion was in many ways a celebration of how the movement has grown, and all that has been accomplished since the nascent PGS community gathered 17 years ago in Torres, Brazil, at the “First International Workshop on Alternative Certification”, co-organised by IFOAM - Organics International and the Agroecological Movement of Latin America and the Caribbean (MAELA).
We looked back to celebrate all that has been achieved since the 2004 gathering in Torres. It was the beginning of a strong and growing movement that stimulated the sharing of experiences, the creation of new PGS initiatives, as well as the search for forms of legitimisation and legal recognition for PGS initiatives.
What's new in the PGS world?
At least 235 PGS initiatives in 77 Countries have certified 1.110.964 producers and an estimated total of 755.000 ha of organically managed agricultural land. PGS are recognised as valid conformity assessment mechanisms within and beyond the organic sector and are included in legal frameworks and public policies supporting organic agriculture in many countries.
Challenges from the early days are still with us now, and while various innovative practices and technologies make it possible to tackle them in ever more creative ways, there is also reason to remain alert, aware of the risks represented by attempts to simplify the characteristic complexity of PGS. As we shared the diversity of our experiences, innovations, and strategies for sustainability,
You can read more highlights below
What's next for the PGS community?
We have come a long way since that first gathering in Torres, and we remain firmly committed to the key elements of PGS first formulated there: Shared Vision, Participation, Transparency, Horizontality, Trust, and a Learning Process. These continue to serve as the compass guiding us towards sustainability. This year’s event was an occasion of joy and celebration, a time to acknowledge the diversity of the many PGS in our international network, and to recognise the maturity of the PGS movement.
We have seen that the value of PGS extends well beyond the producers who participate, and includes benefits to the social, cultural, environmental and economic contexts in which they are embedded. Our movement has grown despite of everything. We have persisted against the headwinds of limited resources, the crosscurrents of mainstream cultures that value individualism, competition, and hierarchies. We have been sustained by a belief that we are on the right side of history. As we were so generously reminded by Laércio Meirelles in the closing gathering, “the world needs more of us and our work”.
Indeed, our spirits have been lifted by this gathering, and we have been emboldened to be more creative and more daring as we continue our work building capacities for organic farming. We invite and encourage every reader of this document to strengthen their commitment to PGS and join us in working towards a stronger organic movement and a better future for all. This is a commitment to a whole paradigm. It opens a pathway for building an organic world, for building communities’ capacity to embrace this ideal.
The organic movement is about people and the love they share for each other and the wonderful world we live in. It is much more than healthy food, it is about living in an enlightened world.
You can download our thoughts as a PDF file below.