For the Celebration of the World Olive Day

In 1992, the member countries of the International Olive Council (IOC) decided to perpetuate their common cultural heritage by celebrating World Olive Day.

It is a rich and varied heritage stretching back to antiquity, when the olive tree was a symbol of peace, harmony, friendship and glory. As the tree associated with the ancient Greek goddess Athena, the olive represented strength and victory, wisdom and fidelity, immortality and hope, and wealth and abundance.

ioc21In Abrahamic religions, the olive is a sacred tree of peace and reconciliation. It symbolises the universal man and its oil is the source of divine light.

From the UN flag with its crown of olive branches encircling the world, to Picasso’s famous dove of peace carrying an olive branch, and in countless other works of art, coin engravings and stamps, the olive tree is used to express messages of hope and reassurance.

Now, more than ever, we must remember these symbols and work together to safeguard this heritage and transmit it to future generations.

Olive growing, which began around the Mediterranean more than six thousand years ago, now spans five continents. With approximately one and a half billion olive trees worldwide over more than eleven million hectares, it is a crop that contributes significantly to sustainable economic and social development.

In addition to being a source of revenue for 30 million people, olive growing provides a barrier against desertification, protects against erosion and acts as a carbon sink.

Olive oil is at the heart of the Mediterranean diet, which has been included in the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list. It has varied aromas and tastes, offering a myriad of gastronomic possibilities, in addition to proven therapeutic properties.
World Olive Day, which is celebrated this year at the headquarters of the IOC and in its member countries, is an opportunity to present this Organisation, its achievements and its objectives.

The IOC, which represents 94% of producer countries and 71% of consumer countries, has embarked on a new phase with the entry into force of the new International Agreement on Olive Oil and Table Olives, which was negotiated in 2015 at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The objectives of this new Agreement respond to a move in the sector towards sustainable development, the consolidation of information sharing on the olive economy, improving knowledge on the benefits of olive products and embracing consumer countries. The documentation and information centre that will be set up next year will be an important contributing factor in this regard.

As of this year, the work of the Organisation is based on a four-year plan that aims to position the IOC as a world forum in which to discuss matters of concern for the sector with a view to identifying present and future challenges and determining common policies for implementation.

This four-year plan will provide effective support to member countries in the areas of olive growing and olive oil technology through the transfer of technology, technical assistance and training, conducting studies on matters of common interest and implementing a network for the exchange of phytosanitary information.

The Executive Secretariat of the IOC, which currently works with more than 300 experts and 150 laboratories and tasting panels across member and non-member countries, will continue to support the work of the groups of experts and to strengthen the networks of recognised panels and laboratories in order to equip countries with the tools needed to improve and monitor quality. In so doing, the IOC aspires to develop trade and protect consumers from fraudulent and misleading practices.

Under its economic and promotion portfolio, the Organisation will work to consolidate and disseminate global statistics on the sector, strengthen activities for the promotion of the IOC trade standard and support the celebration of World Olive Day.