Participatory Guarantee Systems

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= " locally focused quality assurance systems.They certify producers based on active participation of stakeholders". [1]

"an alternative to the well-known Third party certification. This non merchant certification is based on peer-to peer evaluation and is, in many aspects, a useful tool for the management of commons."

- Sylvaine Lemeilleur [2]


From the Wikipedia:

"“Participatory Guarantee Systems are locally focused quality assurance systems. They certify producers based on active participation of stakeholders and are built on a foundation of trust, social networks and knowledge exchange”.

Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) represent an alternative to third party certification, especially adapted to local markets and short supply chains. They can also complement third party certification with a private label that brings additional guarantees and transparency.

PGS enable the direct participation of producers, consumers and other stakeholders in:

  1. the choice and definition of the standards
  2. the development and implementation of certification procedures
  3. the certification decisions

Participatory Guarantee Systems are also referred to as “participatory certification"."


"PGS provide an important alternative to third-party certification programs. In addition to being more affordable, and less reliant on paperwork, PGS are distinguished by their approach. Inspections are carried out by peer-reviewers, typically other farmers in the area. The PGS model is based on transparency, trust, and direct relationships. PGS foster local networks that strengthen the farming community through mutual support and educational opportunities." (


More Information

  • the researcher, Sylvaine Lemeilleur [3], " been exploring in particular the economic models of these modes of certification (external financing or self-financing, distribution of work tasks, articulation of volunteer work and salaried work when there is any, etc)." See her Working papers and Communications
    • Barrot, N., Lemeilleur, S., Paget, N., Saffidine, A., (2020). Peer Reviewing in Participatory Guarantee Systems: Modelisation and Algorithmic Aspects. Presented at the Nineteenth International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems, Auckland, New Zealand.
    • Lemeilleur, S., & Allaire, G. (2019). Participatory Guarantee Systems for organic farming: reclaiming the commons. Working Papers MOISA 2019, 2.
    • Lemeilleur, S., & Varini, F. (2019). The rapid rise of Participatory Guarantee Systems in different parts of the world: challenges and implications for agrifood system and small farmers. working paper. submitted to Organic Wold Congress 2020.
  • DICOOP (DIstributing evaluators in CertificatiOn Organized by Peers) [4]


  • Lemeilleur, S., Dorville, C., Niederle, P., & Ilbert, H. (2022). Analyzing institutional changes in community-based management: a case study of a participatory guarantee system for organic labeling in Brazil. Journal of Institutional Economics, 1-17. [5]
  • Lemeilleur, S., & Sermage, J. (2020). Building a Knowledge Commons: Evidence from the Participatory Guarantee System for an Agroecology Label in Morocco. International Journal of the Commons, 14(1), pp. 465-480. [6]
  • Niederle, P., Loconto, A., Lemeilleur, S., & Dorville, C. (2020). Social movements and institutional change in organic food markets : Evidence from participatory guarantee systems in Brazil and France. Journal of Rural Studies, 78, 282‑291. [7]


  • Participatory Guarantee Systems for Accessible Agroecology Markets: Learnings for a Way Forward. Agroecology Fund


"How does a consumer know if their food is agroecological? How can food producers be recognized and fairly compensated for their agroecological produce? Answering these questions lies at the heart of Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS).

Shared knowledge and social control are critical principles of PGS and differentiate it from conventional third-party audit systems, which tend to be expensive, exclusive, and focused on export crops. PGS can facilitate access to agroecology markets and promote trust-based relationships between producers and consumers. It can be an engine for sovereign, fair, and localized agroecological food systems.

This webinar, brings together PGS practitioners from Asia, Africa, and Latin America to share with us the lessons learned so far about the operationalization and management of PGS, regulatory frameworks to incorporate PGS in national legislation, PGS methodologies and certification criteria, as well as the challenges and innovations in designing PGS in diverse territories and contexts."