Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS): facts and fiction on the concept of participation


Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) are alternative certification systems that were developed in response to an increasing critique of third-party certification systems. PGS is a concept for establishing claims on certain criteria of food quality from organic production systems for local markets based on active participation of a broad base of local stakeholders. Research on PGS has just started and many phenomena (e.g. social, economic) linked to and paramount for PGS are not yet studied.


The aim is to study PGS-members’ perception of participation, including purposes for participation or non-participation and perceived benefits and costs drawn thereof.

Research Objectives

  • To provide a qualitative description and scientific analysis of participation in PGS (scope, kind, duration and frequency of participation).
  • To explore the perception of “participation in the PGS” of local actors.
  • To identify the impact of PGS-membership.
  • To identify actors’ knowledge and skills regarding organic food production and the integrity of PGS-certified products.
  • To frame participation in the PGS within the broader political and institutional context.


Participatory guarantee systems, participation, alternative organic certification, South America

Project Team and Duration

Project leader: Christian Reinhard Vogl

Project staff: Nikolaus Hruschka, Sonja Kaufmann, Luis Vildozo

Project timeline: 2019/01/07-2021/08/06


Austrian Science Fund (FWF)


Relevant Publications

Hruschka, Nikolaus; Kaufmann, Sonja; Vogl, Christian R. (2021): The benefits and challenges of participating in Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) initiatives following institutional formalization in Chile. In: International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, p. 1–15. DOI: 10.1080/14735903.2021.1934364.

Kaufmann, Sonja; Hruschka, Nikolaus; Vogl, Christian R. (2020): Bridging the Literature Gap: A Framework for Assessing Actor Participation in Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS). Sustainability 12(19), p. 8100. DOI:

Binder, Nathalie; Vogl, Christian R. (2018): Participatory Guarantee Systems in Peru. Two Case Studies in Lima and Apurímac and the Role of Capacity Building in the Food Chain. In Sustainability 10 (12), p. 4644. DOI: 10.3390/su10124644.

Kaufmann, Sonja; Vogl, Christian R. (2018): Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) in Mexico. A theoretic ideal or everyday practice? In Agric Hum Values 35 (2), pp. 457–472. DOI: 10.1007/s10460-017-9844-2.

López Cifuentes, Marta; Vogl, Christian R.; Cuéllar Padilla, Mamen (2018): Participatory Guarantee Systems in Spain. Motivations, Achievements, Challenges and Opportunities for Improvement Based on Three Case Studies. In Sustainability 10 (11), p. 4081. DOI: 10.3390/su10114081.