Representatives of the cooperative movement took part in the C20 Summit on 5 October. The International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) together with the Italian Cooperative Alliance organised a side event entitled “The Cooperative Model as an Expression of Civil Society for an Inclusive and Sustainable Recovery”.
The C20 Summit is the virtual gathering of thousands of civil society leaders and change-makers in the G20 process, with meetings promoted by civil society organisations from all over the world to reflect on the international challenges, their commitments, and G20’s duties in light of human rights.
Over the past ten months, the C20 has developed recommendations for the G20 to build a sustainable future for all. The ICA and the Italian Cooperative Alliance have jointly participated in the C20 Working Groups, contributing to the final C20 Policy Pack. As a result, cooperatives have been mentioned five times in the C20 policy recommendations to the G20 – recognising their significance, their contribution to economic growth, and their work towards the implementation of 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.
In his welcoming remarks, the Chair of the ICA G20 Working Group, Howard Brodsky, who is also the Chair and CEO of CCA Global Partners in USA, said cooperatives are driven by principles and values, and they align with mankind’s highest ideals of democracy, equity, environmental sustainability, and innovation. They contribute to a better and a more inclusive society.
Bruno Roelants, the ICA Director General, said in his opening remarks that considering the huge economic and democratic importance of the G20, it is fundamental for the cooperative movement to be fully engaged in the G20 discussions – and particularly in the C20 as part of the Civil Society organisations. He said this was important given the duality of cooperatives as businesses and their social aspect serving the needs of their members, who are also the owners.
Maurizio Martina, the Deputy Director General of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), said that cooperation is a major pillar to solving some of the biggest challenges the world is facing. Cooperatives can play a key role by sharing their model, principles, and experiences in solving challenges such as poverty, hunger, and inequalities.
The C20 Sherpa, Riccardo Moro, said that participation and democracy are key features of cooperatives, which have the capacity to gather people and give them a voice and power to play a role in their communities that otherwise would have been left out. He said he was glad to have cooperatives on board in the C20.
Osamu Nakano, the Director of International Relations at Japan Workers’ Cooperative Union (JWCU), highlighted the significant role cooperatives play in building a more inclusive, equitable, resilient, and sustainable society. This is attributed to their nature of putting people, rather than profit, at the center of their operations. The governments should therefore improve the legislative environment to make it more conducive for cooperatives’ growth.
Ignace Bikoula, Head of Regulatory Affairs and Relations with the European Union in Federcasse, said the cooperative principles encourage the improvement of the moral, cultural and economic conditions that could in turn promote the development of cooperation, social security, social cohesion and sustainable growth. The G20 government should implement the C20 recommendation that the international banking rules should be proportionate and consistent with the social functions of community banks, cooperative and ethical banks, he added.
Carlos Zarco, President of the International Health Cooperative, said cooperatives are a fairer and more innovative and democratic way to do business and a powerful tool to rebuild better together. They are enterprises that produce great value to society and are key in the redistribution of income and wealth. In the current context of reconstruction, health cooperatives have new opportunities to expand. History has shown that cooperatives arise in contexts of significant transformation because companies are remarkably resilient to crises, he added.
Anna Manca, the Chair of the Italian Cooperative Alliance Gender Equality Commission, said cooperatives play an important role in increasing the accessibility to services for women. They also help women access finance and capital for their businesses, offer job inclusion, and give them the opportunity to influence the digital culture that is shaping the world. She advocated for women’s representation in decision-making positions, support for women’s leadership, an end to disempowering stereotypes, and the promotion of gender equality.
Giuseppe Guerini, President of CECOP-CICOPA-Europe and ICA G20 WG Vice-Chair, said the Italian G20 was an important opportunity to share with governments and international institutions the contribution of cooperatives to building an approach to the economy and development that starts first and foremost with people in solving these challenges.
Many cooperative representatives shared a message in their various working groups of the C20 to show how solidarity and mutuality, organised in the form of a business model, promote sustainable and inclusive development.
In his closing remarks, Mauro Lusetti, President of the Italian Cooperative Alliance, said it is important for the G20 to promote the values of cooperatives to meet the specific needs of different communities. These values have enabled cooperatives to be agents of change, creating sustainable, economically empowered, and inclusive societies. Cooperatives are reliable partners for development at all levels. He thanked the C20 Secretariat for giving cooperatives an opportunity to take part in the C20 Summit and for recognising the importance of the cooperatives in the society in the C20 Policy Pack recommendations to the G20.