Sustainable Organic Agriculture Action Network (SOAAN) Phase Three

Made possible by the generous contributions of

Regeneration International   


<click here to see all SOAAN members>

Think Tank on True Cost Accounting, True Value & Fair Pricing

Background & Context
Since its creation in 2012, SOAAN has initiated and successfully completed two major projects:
1. The Best Practice Guideline for Agriculture and Value Chains, which has become one of the Organic Landmarks.
2. The booklet Organic 3.0, out of which IFOAM – Organics International wants to make an Organic 3.0 landmark through a global GA decision.

With that, SOAAN established itself as a leading think tank in the Organic Movement with the purpose of identifying relevant issues, to distill the essence of broad discussions and to develop concept clarity. The results – a synthesis of many think tank efforts - are handed over to IFOAM Organics International for feeding into the democratic decision making processes.

While the above mentioned achievements provide a solid basis for going forward, more specific guidance and tools are needed to help improve practices toward ecological and societal health. The SOAAN Steering Group concluded that focusing its think-tank efforts on the Organic 3.0 feature of True Value and Fair Pricing should be its next priority.

There is a broad consensus in the organic movement that we need to account for the real costs of the things we grow and consume including compensation of negative external effects to the society (polluter pays principle). And we need to reward positive external effects such as ecosystem services.

It is not only the organic sector that holds this opinion. There is increasing interest in understanding how production and consumption patterns affect the availability, quality, and future of natural and human capital. Life Cycle Analysis and related True Cost Accounting methodologies have been under development for some years now by a variety of institutions for instance the FAO, UNEP, civil society organizations, research bodies and operators. The organic sector’s vision and objectives have much in common with these efforts and there is opportunity for collaboration and learning.

However, the concepts and their implications are highly complex and extremely diverse depending on context and value chain, and progress is very political. The terminology used is very technical and most people outside a small circle of specialists quickly lose track in discussions. This is a main reason why the organic movement has not managed to advance the topic despite the aforementioned high agreement and relevance.Therefore, a think tank that manages to get concepts and strategies clear, that identifies practicable measure for operators and that is able to explain the concepts in simple language to use in communications is extremely useful and relevant for the advancement of the goals of organic 3.0.

Overall Goal, Objectives, and Project Strategy
The overarching goal of the project is to support implementation of Organic 3.0 through moving the concept and practice of True Value and Fair Pricing toward becoming an essential organizing principle both within and beyond the organic sector.

The project objective is to propose in a well designed and easy to understand way a path forward for the organic sector to visualize and advocate for true value and fair pricing.

The model and the strategy developed should be scientifically sound and based on widely agreed principles and criteria. It should be broadly understandable, implementable by producers, and easy to catch for consumers and policy makers explaining the facts in a very easy to understand, attractive and convincing way. The SOAAN product will published in an attractive booklet.

This phase of SOAAN's work is estimated to conclude in late 2018.