June 5 marks World Environment Day. This year, the theme #OnlyOneEarth highlights the need to reset the balance with nature through transformative change. With global food systems responsible for 80% of biodiversity loss, this Year of Organics is the time to rethink our food systems to help safeguard and heal our planet!

“Only One Earth” was the slogan for the 1972 Stockholm Conference that put sustainable development on the global agenda and led to the establishment of the UN Environment Programme and World Environment Day. That same year, IFOAM – Organics International was founded, working to bring the voices of organic farmers centre stage.

Five decades later, the sector we represent is made up of more than 3.4 million organic farmers, 74.9 million hectares of organic farmland, a global organic market valued at over 120 billion euros – and countless examples of how organic can be a pathway to sustainable systems!

The way through the climate crisis is to transform our systems to make them inclusive, fair, and more connected with nature. We must shift from harming the planet to healing it. © Zubair Hussain

The climate crisis, nature and biodiversity loss, water pollution, soil erosion – evidence that Earth is “code red” is all around us and growing more ominous every day. The way out of this dilemma is to transform our economies and societies to make them inclusive, fair, and more connected with nature. We must shift from harming the planet to healing it!

Tackling Earth’s interlinked environmental and social challenges requires holistic solutions. Agriculture based on the principles of organic agriculture has shown to be a pathway to transformational change.

Organic agriculture is part of the solution!

Farming based on the four principles of organic agriculture – health, ecology, fairness and care – works with living ecological cycles, sustains the health of living beings, and is managed in a way that ensures the wellbeing of future generations. It has been shown to play a major role in climate change mitigation and adaptation.

“We can still avoid the worst of the climate crisis. We can halt further biodiversity loss. We can protect and revive degraded ecosystems. We can clean up our air, water and soil. We can still achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), agreed in 2015 by all countries in the United Nations. But we need to act now.”

Each and every animal, microorganism and plant species has a vital role to play in preserving the general health of our planet and the ecosystem that keeps it alive. © Sonika Agarwal

Some of the ways organic agriculture protects and enhances our environment are:

Helps reduce greenhouses gases

Especially nitrous oxide, as no chemical nitrogen fertilisers are used and nutrient losses are minimised.

Puts carbon back into soils

Farmers do this by keeping their soils covered with plants, increasing crop diversity, composting and carefully planned grazing.

Minimises energy consumption

By eliminating the energy required to manufacture synthetic fertilizers and by using internal farm inputs, organic farms minimise energy consumption by 30-70% per unit of land.

Provides food and shelter for wild species found on farms

...thus increasing their populations and variety in species.

Supports high levels of agro-biodiversity and maintaining healthy soils and soil fauna

Like earthworms!

Reduces the risk of water pollution and sustains pollination services

A key step to protecting our biodiversity.

Everyone everywhere can help create a more sustainable planet! The more we raise our voices, speak up about what needs to be done, and call out players who are moving too slowly or not living up to their commitments, the faster change will come.

Here are some ways to make yourself heard, on World Environment Day and Beyond:

  • EAT THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE – Support organic farmers and help safeguard our environment by consuming organic whenever you can!
  • SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL FARMER – Visit organic farms around you and get to know the people who choose to grow your food sustainably!
  • ADVOCATE FOR CHANGE – Be loud! You can use the official World Environment Day messages or the Year of Organics toolkit for free premade visuals to use in your advocacy efforts.
  • ASK FOR ACTION – Ask your town council, employer, school, or university to set ambitious sustainability targets, to commit to including more organic food in their spaces, and to take part in efforts to make and monitor progress. Encourage, put pressure on and support your national and local governments and businesses in taking measures that help 
  • CHOOSE ORGANIC – Beyond just food, whenever possible, buy sustainable products that support ecosystems and local communities.

Check the official World Environment Day practical guide for more concrete steps on how to bring about transformational change.

The Year of Organics aims to raise awareness of how organic agriculture can be a pathway to addressing not only hunger and malnutrition but also other challenges including poverty, water use, the climate crisis, as well as unsustainable production and consumption. Join the conversation! Use the free toolkit and post using #YearofOrganics.