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G20 recognises role of cooperatives in accelerating sustainable development

LONDON, October 3, 2023 – Held on September 9-10, the G20 Summit in India marked the culmination of a year’s work by the ministers and other senior government officials, private sector and civil societies, including cooperatives.

The Summit, which brings together world leaders to discuss issues of global economic and trade governance, concluded with the adoption of a final G20 Declaration. Cooperatives have been active in the G20 Engagement Groups this year, including the Business [B20], Civil Society [C20], Women [W20] and Youth [Y20] working groups, and, as a result of their participation and advocacy, the final policy papers providing recommendations to G20 governments contained several references to cooperatives.

The International Cooperative Alliance [ICA], which is the global apex body for cooperatives, started participating in the B20 taskforces in 2014 during the Australian G20 presidency. Since then, cooperative representatives have continued to be engaged in the process and recently shared knowledge via the ICA G20 Working Group that was set up in 2020. The working group aims to enhance the participation and recognition of cooperatives’ contribution to sustainable development by the world’s largest economies.

“The G20’s uptake of the cooperative business model as a component of its evolving global economic policy recommendations will lead to a greater understanding of the cooperative business model around the world that will ultimately empower individuals and local communities to elevate themselves out of poverty and help protect our environment and natural resources. The B20 urges G20 nations to recognise the importance of co-operatives and deploy policy levers to facilitate the participation of cooperative societies in global trade,” said the Chair of the ICA G20 Working Group, Howard Brodsky.

“Cooperatives are enterprises formed by civil society that create work, generate wealth and distribute development opportunities for everyone, from a democratic, equitable and solidary matrix. This way of doing economy has been growing for more than 200 years all over the planet. Therefore, it is vital that the governments of the G20 nations heed the recommendations arising from our participation in the B20 and the C20 to create political and regulatory frameworks that favour its growth and impact on the economy for the good of people and the planet”, said the President of the ICA, Ariel Guarco.

Cooperatives have been mentioned for their contribution in several outcome documents of the B20 Task Forces. The B20 urges G20 nations to recognise the importance of cooperatives and deploy policy levers to facilitate the participation of cooperative societies in global trade. You can find the analysis made by ICA Policy Director, Joseph Njuguna.

For example, the B20 policy paper on financial inclusion for economic empowerment calls on G20 governments to create a framework for collaborations between FinTechs and primary cooperatives to deliver financial services in a “phygital” mode, providing digital financial services at the last mile through agents, enterprises, and cooperatives within three years.

The B20 paper on inclusive global value chains [GVCs] for resilient global trade and investment also mentions cooperatives. The paper notes that while cooperatives can also be large in scale, they face crucial challenges such as access to finance, markets, and skilled labour. “These barriers limit the GVC integration of cooperatives and thus limit their capabilities,” the paper warns. “The B20 thus urges G20 nations to recognise the importance of cooperatives and deploy policy levers to facilitate the participation of cooperative societies in global trade.”

The policy paper praises the cooperative “people-centric business model” for increasing access to capital and market power, and enhancing growth and development at the grassroots level, enabling higher participation in trade and representation in decision-making bodies”. “The versatility of the model permits shared innovation and resilience through rapid response to crises,” it reads.

Cooperatives are also mentioned in the Energy, Climate Change & Resource Efficiency taskforce paper, which recommends providing assistance and resources to MSMEs, including cooperatives and entrepreneurs, to facilitate their transition towards sustainable practices.

The ICA thanks the Indian Cooperative Movement for their active participation in various working groups and ensuring cooperatives are recognised for their contribution to sustainable development.

Next year the G20 will be hosted under the Brazilian presidency. The ICA will coordinate with its members in Brazil to continue enhancing the visibility of cooperatives, strengthen their contribution to sustainable development and ensure their efforts are recognised by the G20.

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