The initiative is an open call for global collaboration to find new approaches that will make it easier, more cost effective and more attractive for farmers worldwide to adopt safe and sustainable production practices. This will make markets more accessible for farmers and help them sustain their livelihoods, as well as reduce poverty and malnutrition.
The Declaration of Abu Dhabi unites public and private partners committed to developing and adopting three important measures:
Good Agricultural Practices are “practices that address environmental, economic and social sustainability for on-farm processes, and result in safe and quality food and non-food agricultural products” (FAO). We extend this definition to good aquacultural practices as well.
As a starting point, SAI Platform is offering its Farm Sustainability Assessment criteria and GLOBALG.A.P. is offering its food safety criteria as public material arranged in the structure of the ITC Standards Map. The Declaration of Abu Dhabi is not an endorsement of these two programs. The signatories convening in Abu Dhabi will collectively determine the process for finalizing a first version. Once complete, ITC Standards Map will reference the common set of criteria as open source and accessible to all in relevant languages. The collaboration will create a process for updating the common set so that it may reflect our learning about best practices yielding desired outcomes.
No. Typically, a good agricultural practices standard consists of a written set of agricultural practices known to ensure that farm products are produced and handled in the safest manner possible to minimize risks to food safety, environment and society. Additionally, a standard has rules for how the adherence to these practices is verified and recognized, e.g. through a certification program. This initiative aims to establish a common set of good agricultural practices criteria that will consist only of the set of practices, not the rules for adherence.
No. This initiative does not replace the need for benchmarking to determine equivalency and comparison assessments across standards and codes. Typically, with benchmarking, there is a reference standard to which other standards apply to be benchmarked. Formal recognition is issued. In this situation, there is a reverse dynamic. Other standard holders may voluntarily compare their standard to the common set, and will have the option to adopt the common language where they find overlap. The collaboration will not perform the benchmarking or issue any formal recognition to standards.
The intended outcome is not harmonization of multiple standards. The collaboration will put forth the common set of good agricultural practices criteria as a public resource. It will be the option of public and private sector standards holders to then adopt this language wherever overlap occurs, freeing them to focus their energies on truly differentiating factors (issue, product, location, etc.)
No. The focus of this initiative is not on certification in the sense of third party conformity assessment. In fact, central to this initiative is the notion of decoupling criteria from verification so that we may collaborate on content and leave verification up to users of the content, depending on their needs (training, self-assessments, audits, etc). The initiative focuses on specific and tangible practices to be implemented on farms without any expectation and definition of how to demonstrate proof through verification. The good agricultural practices criteria may be compared to a textbook for comprehensive good agricultural practices, establishing a common language and basic criteria for safe and sustainable farming practices. It can be used by public and private entities, alone or with additional criteria, through a range of approaches to assessment and verification. Impact assessments will need to be conducted to continue calibrating this flexible and practical approach.
The collaboration is not developing its own certification or labeling program. However, it is entirely possible that other entities will develop certification programs that incorporate the publicly- available common set of criteria.
The common set is not a competitive threat to existing certification programs. Rather, it is intended as a building block that, once integrated, can help such programs focus resources on the content and approach that truly differentiates them in the marketplace and achieves their goals.
The resulting common set of criteria will be offered in the public domain as an open source reference. As it is currently envisioned, the collaboration that governs the development and maintenance of the criteria will not perform the function of approving or denying claims made about use of the criteria, as it will not be protected intellectual property. Users may wish to benchmark to the common set. However this is not the type of benchmarking to which we are accustomed. It is a one-way exercise, since no recognition will be subsequently granted by the collaboration. Users may freely incorporate all or portions of the common set in the development of training, assessment and certification tools, and establish their own rules around related claims.
This is not an initiative owned by any of the founding partners. It is an open group of signatories without its own legal entity. The collaboration of signatories will be responsible for assigning roles and activities to existing organizations or individuals. For example, International Trade Centre will assume a facilitator role, including hosting of the common criteria on the ITC Standards Map (www.standardsmap.org).
Signatories to the Declaration of Abu Dhabi share the goal of supporting global food security through good agricultural practices. They are pledging their organization’s intention to align with the commitments outlined in the Declaration. Signatories have the opportunity to actively build the operational pillars of this collaboration:
In doing so, the signatories’ success will produce the following outcomes:
Signatories present at the launch meeting in Abu Dhabi will have the unique opportunity to shape this collaboration by determining initial leadership, committee structure and process, as well as draft the milestones of the 2015-2020 agenda.
A signatory may revoke consent and withdraw from the program at any time in writing and without reason, and this is effective immediately without any reprisal. The signatory loses the opportunity to shape the collaboration’s efforts to establish the common criteria, farm identification system or reporting mechanism. This does not mean the signatory would lose the ability to support the systems that result from the collaboration’s work.
The founding partners of the Declaration of Abu Dhabi are leading the effort to engage signatories from the public and private sectors. A launch event will take place in conjunction with GLOBALG.A.P.’s SUMMIT 2014 October 27-29 Abu Dhabi. Tuesday, October 28 is a full day of programming around the theme of good agricultural practices supporting food security, and the promise of the Declaration of Abu Dhabi. The official signing will take place on Tuesday, and the day’s program will be followed by a signatories reception. Wednesday, October 29 will include a three hour moderated working session mid-day. We will orient the signatories, and set the stage for our collaboration by determining initial leadership, consider committee structure and process, and draft milestones. At this meeting, the attending signatories will assign roles and responsibilities, determine committee structure, agree upon membership levels, and elect leaders for the development process. International Trade Centre will moderate the initiative until the signatories have agreed upon a governance structure.
It is our experience that the practice-based safety and sustainability assessment tools and standards share the majority of criteria in common, although the technical language may be slightly different. This initiative aims to identify and codify those criteria which are common to farms worldwide. Programs will need to build on this common set with customized criteria that address crop/region/issue specific conditions. Efficiencies will still be gained by sharing a common core set. The mapping of standards in ITC Standards Map visually demonstrates the potential for identifying overlap within sustainability topics and sub topics.
We believe that the common set of good agricultural practices criteria will serve like a reference tool, or dictionary, from which users may select and apply criteria that are relevant to their area of work. Users will most definitely adopt these criteria and add criteria suitable to their customized needs. The collaboration will create a process for updating the common set so that it may reflect our learning about best practices yielding desired outcomes.
The Declaration of Abu Dhabi seeks to translate broader principles at the farm level. One of its key innovations is that it is a practical, technical solution, not a conceptual one. Leaders in establishing sustainable agriculture principles in the public and private sector are being actively recruited into this process.