The UNFSS Working Group on enhancing interoperability of VSS focuses on organic agriculture as a sector that provides leading edge examples of innovation and impact of standards and technical regulations towards achieving environmental, social and economic goals. Organic agriculture and trade, which has come to be regulated by governments, now crucially depends on collaboration between those governments, the private sector and civil society.
At the IFOAM Organic World Congress, held from 13-15 October 2014 in Istanbul and drawing more than 800 participants, UNFSS and IFOAM presented a workshop on “Building Bridges Between Government and the Private Sector.” The workshop featured case examples of best practices in cooperation between governments and private sector/civil society to further develop their organic sector to achieve mutual environmental, social and economic goals.
Cases were presented by teams of government and private sector/civil society representatives from South Africa, the United States and Moldova. The South African case illustrated the role that governments can take to facilitate organization of sector representation and foster collaborative development of supportive policies and standards for organic agriculture. The case from the United States illustrated the learning process and eventual success of the organic agriculture sector, which is small in the context of major US agricultural commodities and their institutions, to attain USDA prioritization for work on equivalence and trade promotion. Moldova, with an emerging organic sector, illustrated the impact of champions inside government working collaboratively with the private sector/civil society to fast-track development of supportive measures for a rapidly emerging organic agricultural sector, and also to persist despite a changing economic context.
A consistent theme in these cases was the importance of identifying and maintaining focus on shared goals and objectives. In the cases, both the governments and the sectors identified as goals the intensification of agro-ecological agricultural production as means toward environmental protection, the preservation and restoration of rural communities and providing economic opportunities for producers.