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The EU and Central, Eastern European and Central Asian countries strengthen cooperation on organic agriculture and Green Economy

Around 200 representatives from 35 countries have explored the challenges and opportunities of the organic sector during the 5th International Conference on the Organic Sector Development in Central/Eastern European and Central Asian countries in Kyiv (16-17 April). The conference was organized by the Organic Federation of Ukraine and the international strategy consultancy Organic Services.

The event emerged as one of the largest knowledge exchange platforms to share best practices, lessons learned and on the ground experiences about promoting production, processing and trade of organic agriculture in the region. The EU was the main supporter of this event, which was organized under the umbrella of the “Greening Economies in the European Union’s Eastern Neighborhood” programme funded by the European Union and other donors and jointly implemented by the EU, OECD, UNECE, UNEP, and UNIDO.

Fruitful panel discussions and vibrant dialogues during the two conference days encouraged representatives to share their results and motivations to further advance organic agriculture in the region. The main drivers for the development of organic agriculture were identified as access to international markets, increasing employment opportunities - especially in rural areas - climate change adaptation and mitigation, conserving biodiversity, improving food safety and health, creating growth under increasing natural resource scarcities, and increasing value addition in supply chains.

In addition to access to credit and enabling national policies, the conference identified investment and local certification capacity as major gaps to advance the Green Economy concept through organic food systems.

“We recognize the challenges that the region is facing in merging economic growth, reduction in inequality, and strengthening the ecological foundation of economy,” said Asad Naqvi, Acting Head, Green Economy Advisory Services Unit at UNEP. “Our Green Economy initiative is an effort to inform mainstream economic policy makers, national planning processes and ministries (…) that there are economic, trade, employment, environmental and poverty reduction benefits from investing in organic agriculture," he concluded.

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