At the occasion of Biofach 2008, 4 months before the Organic World Congress, the program of the congress is presented to the public. From June 16th to June 20th, Modena in Italy will be hosting the 16th IFOAM Organic World Congress. Organized by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) and ModenaBio 2008 – an association founded by the Province of Modena and the Italian Association for Organic Agriculture (AIAB) of Emilia Romagna Region – the Congress promises to offer a comprehensive and exciting program for those interested in Organic Agriculture and more general in sustainable answers to current global threats like climate change.
On the location of this years’ conference the Agriculture and Food Minister of Modena, Graziano Poggioli explained that “The Organic World Congress will be outstanding, since Modena is a land of jewels: architectural ones such as the Romanesque cathedral, the Ghirlandina tower, and Piazza Grande, all of which have been declared UNESCO World Heritage sites, and also well preserved medieval castles that will be congress locations. Other jewels awaiting the participants are the products of our local agriculture: Parmigiano-Reggiano; Prosciutto from Modena; the Lambrusco wines Grasparossa, Sorbara, Salamino di Santa Croce; Modena’s Traditional Balsamic Vinegar; as well as many other specialty products like blackberries from the Apennine Mountains, pears from the Emilia Region, cherries from Vignola; all world famous products produced with organic farming methods by women and men capable of both solidarity and hospitality.”
The congress program consists of two main tracks: the scientific research track, organized by the International Society of Organic Agriculture Research (ISOFAR), and the system values track, organized in cooperation with many other organizations including relevant United Nations agencies.
Daniel Neuhoff from ISOFAR compared the submission for the scientific research track with the First Scientific Conference of ISOFAR, which was held in the frame of the Organic World Congress in Adelaide (South Australia) in September 2005, by stating: “The submission of papers has more than doubled resulting in total of 495 four-page papers that have gone through a sophisticated review process. To meet the needs and interests of the congress participants, the amount of oral presentations has been limited to 200 and another 180 papers will be presented in guided poster tours. Workshops will allow researchers and other organic stakeholders to update their knowledge on specific topics and to identify bottle necks and research needs.”
The system values track deals with practices, innovations and experiences from farmers, consumers, producers and activists. It will tackle hot issues like climate change, gender, food security, genetically modified organisms and government policies, just to name a few. Louise Luttikholt, IFOAM’s Strategic Relations Manager and part of the Steering Program Committee for the congress says: “If you want to be at the edge of developments you need to participate in the workshops and discussions.”
Pre-conferences and thematic conferences give the chance to go in-depth into subjects like cosmetics, aquaculture and fruits. Paolo Foglia of ICEA, who is organizing the Textiles pre-conference revealed that: “Already the partnership built for this pre-conference is an incredible achievement as practically all the major organic textile industry stakeholders are involved, therewith promising a successful event that will become a milestone in the development of organic textiles”
Surrounded by fairs, tours, festivals, arts and, of course, local traditional organic delicacies, the program offers aspects for all senses. Paola Bonfreschi, director of ModenaBio, explained how Modena is preparing to host OWC participants: “A rich calendar of events in the evening and during the weekend has already been organized (concerts, exhibitions, theatrical performances) and the Market Festival (trade exhibition) will take place from 20th to 22nd in the historical city centre allowing visitors to buy organic products coming form different parts of the world. Over 20 tours are planned to allow the participants to discover Modena from an “organic perspective”, getting to know how the Organic Principles are applied in Emilia Romagna Region.”
Finally, Gerald A. Herrmann, IFOAM President, expressed his confidence that the 2008 Organic World Congress is going to be unforgettable and a rewarding experience: “Having heard at this Press Conference only some excerpts of the whole program; knowing how exciting this already is; adding the experiences from IFOAM conferences in the past; I am thrilled and my organic heart beats faster as we come closer to June 2008.”