A Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) is a quality assurance scheme with a local focus. They “certify producers based on active stakeholder participation and are built on a foundation of trust, social networks and knowledge exchange.[1]

The concept developed as organic farming evolved in the 1970s, but today their scope goes much further.

Over the past two decades, as organic production and consumption have increased, third-party certifications (from certifying bodies responsible for developing organic standards and verifying compliance) have proliferated. However, they do not take into account aspects such as the protection of small family farms, fair labor relations, limits to monocultures or incentives for local production and consumption networks.

As a result, many small, low-income producers are cultivating using environmentally and people-friendly methods but lack official recognition. This means they reap the ecological benefits but few of the social and economic benefits.

These considerations gave rise to the Participatory Guarantee Systems movement, which coordinates its actions toward creating a collective dimension based on a shared understanding of production and distribution principles and a common agreement of responsibility. A PGS incorporates elements of environmental and social education in relation to quality improvement for both producers and consumers, offering an alternative to third-party certification.

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In 2018, the Slow Food network began testing this type of initiative on some of its projects, starting with the Presidia. The methodology has since been consolidated through collaboration with IFOAM experts, and several initiatives have been activated within the Slow Food network (see the “PGS Initiatives” section).

Interested in learning more about Slow Food’s PGS initiatives or want to launch an initiative in your Slow Food Community?

Check out our page of useful materials and FAQs or write to us at: [email protected].

 

Slow Food’s position on Participatory Guarantee Systems

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[1] IFOAM – Organics international (2008).
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