International Cooperative Alliance (ICA)
  • Date submitted: 6 Oct 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: International Cooperative Alliance (ICA)
  • Submission Document: Not available
Keywords: General Assembly (5 hits), UNGA (0 hits),

General Content

a) What are the expectations for the outcome of Rio+20, and what are the concrete proposals in this regard, including views on a possible structure of the Outcome document?

b) What are the comments, if any, on existing proposals: e.g., a green economy roadmap, framework for action, sustainable development goals, a revitalized global partnership for sustainable development, or others?

c) What are the views on implementation and on how to close the implementation gap, which relevant actors are envisaged as being involved (Governments, specific Major Groups, UN system, IFIs, etc.);

d) What specific cooperation mechanisms, partnership arrangements or other implementation tools are envisaged and what is the relevant time frame for the proposed decisions to be reached and actions to be implemented?

Specific Elements
a) Objective of the Conference: To secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assessing the progress to date and remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development and addressing new and emerging challenges.

Contributions could include possible sectoral priorities (e.g., (e.g., energy, food security and sustainable agriculture, technology transfer, water, oceans, sustainable urbanization, sustainable consumption and production, natural disaster preparedness and climate change adaptation, biodiversity, etc.) and sectoral initiatives that contribute to integrate the three pillars of sustainable development could be launched and endorsed at Rio+20.

b) Green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication: views regarding how green economy can be a means to achieve sustainable development in its three dimensions, and poverty eradication; what is its potential added value; experience to date, including what has worked and how to build upon success, what are the challenges and opportunities and how to address the challenges and seize opportunities, and possible elements of an agreement in outcome document on a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication

c) Institutional framework for sustainable development: Priorities and proposals for strengthening individual pillars of sustainable development, as well as those for strengthening integration of the three pillars, at multiple levels; local, national, regional and international.

On behalf of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) the association which represents some 300 co-operatives in 96 countries and close to a billion citizens globally we wish to include the following additions to the Compilation document:

Starting with the UN General Assembly?s Document A/CONF.216/PC/& the Objective and Themes of the United Nations conference on Sustainable Development, we take note of (f) Improved institutions are crucial to the favorable social outcomes of green economy policies;

ICA believes that in seeking to improve these institutions it is vital that co-operatives, value based business models are used as an integral part of any development planning process. Co-operatives (or ?co-ops? as they are often called) are autonomous associations of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically controlled enterprise.

Co-ops are generally divided in two ways- by type and sector: consumption and production being the two main types. Easy type may have subcategories and some may contain elements of both. However, regardless of their ?form? their seven core principles remain the same: voluntary and open membership; democratic member control; member economic participation; autonomy and independence, inclusion of education, training and information; cooperation among cooperatives and finally concern for community.
Dating back to the 1800s, this value based business model has demonstrated time and again its ability to generate badly needed jobs whether it is in rural or an urban setting and an ability to weather the viscitudes of financial instability in countries as well as provide financial underpinnings in areas that other financial institutions reject as unviable. Credit unions, savings and credit cooperatives or cooperative banks often are the only entities willing and able to serve in extremely poor areas or those with unrest. Often loans made by co-operative banks have been the lifeline for small businesses to begin or advance. Agricultural cooperatives have enabled beleaguered farmers to gain a badly needed position in markets so that they can sell their products, obtain equipment and compete. Alone a poor farmer may have little hope-but together with other farmers of similar needs, their strength in numbers as part of a co-operative enables them to have a future.

So important is the co-operative model in terms of its values and successes, that the United Nations General Assembly has designated 2012 as the International Year of the Co-operative. It is fitting that as the year advances it also marks the 20th year of the Rio Principles and Agenda 21. Both UN years share many mutual objectives. Indeed it was Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on the occasion of the UN General Assembly?s passage of the resolution creating the IYC who noted:
? Co-operatives are a reminder to the international community that it is possible to pursue both economic viability and social responsibility."

As the UN Secretary General?s Report of July 13, 2009 (A/64/132 focusing on ?Cooperatives In Social Development? indicated ?Agricultural cooperatives help in marketing agricultural products and in improving farmers ?access to markets. It is estimated that 50 percent of global agricultural output is marketed through cooperatives.? (Page 8). For instance, while 57 percent of those over 10 years old in Mozambique work in agriculture and livestock production, there are few medium sized farms. Ninety nine percent of the country?s holding are small ones. And since 2002 the percentage of farms over 3 hectares has actually decreased. Working through the NCBA/CLUSA Mozambique at the present has 20 selected small farmers it assists in increasing their production to become successful medium sized farms with the objective of developing a solid program for further agricultural development.
In East Timor, a 17 year old project was started to improve four value chains: coffee, spices, beef and timber. By 2002 our member NCBA/CLUSA had helped form the cooperative Café Timor (CCT) to improve coffee procurement and other aspects of coffee production. By 2005 Starbucks began buying all of the CCT coffee. As a result of this relationship CCT became the largest supplier of fair trade coffee in the world. Moreover, there are now at least nine community health care clinics in East Timor because of the CCT program?s success. The government does not fund any of these but they team up with the government to deliver public health programs and educational information such as on tuberculosis.

In the area of finance in the developing world, again the SG Report stated ?Globally, financial cooperatives of all types serve an estimated 857 million people or 13 percent of the world population.?(Page 11). Moreover, ?Financial cooperatives are the largest providers of microfinance services to the poor.?

Co-ops are also often instruments of peace as well as prosperity. For example, an Afghan cooperative for sustainable skin care products provides an economic alternative to the opium trade and men and women of various tribes and ethnic groups work together on an equal basis. In Iraq?s Abu Ghraib region, a coop is helping farmers to make strides after years of war. In South Africa, a rural area has a telecommunications system thanks to the establishment of a cooperative ? a priority for that country once apartheid ended.
With this as a background, we would respectfully submit that in putting together the Compilation Document it is fitting and indeed important to include language calling for a direct consideration of the co-operative model as programs and projects are put together to green the economy and advance sustainable development. Moreover, the document should also state its strong support for a regulatory, legislative and political atmosphere that nurtures the creation and advancement of the cooperative model.
By a unanimous vote the General Assembly in making 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives (Document A/Res/64/136) called on Member states ?(5)?to promote the growth of cooperatives as business and social enterprises that can contribute to sustainable development, eradication of poverty, and livelihoods in various economic sectors in urban and rural areas and provide support for the creation of cooperatives in new and emerging areas:?

Hence, as delegates shape the final outcome document for this historical meeting on Agenda 21 plus 20 we would respectfully urge that the language above used in that UN General Assembly approved IYC document in support of co-operative enterprises ?to promote the growth of cooperatives as business and social enterprises that can contribute to sustainable development, eradication of poverty, and livelihoods in various economic sectors in urban and rural areas and provide support for the creation of cooperatives in new and emerging areas? be integrated into the guidance for moving towards a green economy and the advancement of sustainable development.

In closing, we thank you for your consideration of this proposal.

d) Any proposals for refinement of the two themes. Recall that Resolution 64/236 describes the focus of the Conference: "The focus of the Conference will include the following themes to be discussed and refined during the preparatory process: a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and the institutional framework for sustainable development".


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