Food security and nutrition was one of the issues discussed at this year’s G20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia and co-operatives were mentioned in the Food Security and Nutrition Framework Report.
The G20 (Group of 20) Summit gathers heads of states of the world’s largest 20 economies. The Food Security and Nutrition Framework is aimed at strengthening growth by lifting investment in food systems, raising productivity and growing incomes and quality jobs. Co-operatives and mutuals employ 250m people across the world, almost 12% of the employed population of the G20 countries.
One of the priority objectives set out in the framework is to increase responsible investment in food systems. The document highlights that private enterprises, including small and medium-sized food system enterprises, family farms and co-operatives, are central to lifting agricultural productivity.
Andrew Crane, chair of the Business Council for Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM) and CBH Group, a grain growers' co-operative, has represented the agriculture and co-operative sectors at the B20 Summit as part of the Australian Business 20 Committee.
Commenting on the G20, he said: "The 20 recommendations that the B20 developed were presented to the G20 Summit as the basis for their discussions. It was pleasing that so many of the B20 Leadership Group recommendations to the G20 were reflected in the final communique.
"Co-operatives and mutuals were first mentioned in B20’s own Infrastructure Task Force Recommendations which recognise that when governments are considering the privatisation of assets, that mutuals may also make a valid ownership model." Dr Crane explained how the Food Security and Nutrition Framework had come out of a side review that had been requested from the previous G20 in Russia.
A report to the G20 Development Working Group by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) also emphasises that co-operatives can help farmers organise to achieve scale and bargain more effectively.
"The G20 Development Working Group and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade requested consultation with interested parties in March and the CBH Group provided a submission to this review that highlighted the importance of agricultural co-operatives in a sustainable future for agriculture. Many of the concepts highlighted in the G20 Food Security and Nutrition Framework overlap with concepts discussed at B20 level. There is recognition of the 'importance of boosting agricultural productivity, investment and trade to strengthen the global food system to promote economic growth and job creation', which is something that CBH and co-operatives can contribute towards," added Adrew Crane.
He also said that co-operatives can help achieve other objectives set out by the G20. "Similarly to non-member owned businesses, co-operatives and mutuals have the ability to contribute across all areas of G20’s work including trade liberalisation, supply chain infrastructure, learning and workforce and supporting growth in less developed nations. Throughout this process there have been some great opportunities to influence the thinking of G20 and to show how CBH and other co-operatives and mutuals can help achieve the challenging GDP growth target in a fair and sustainable way.
"Some of Australia’s largest cooperatives are major supply chain owners and exporters. It is crucial that we support the ratification of the WTO Bali package as recommended by the G20 as this will free up trade for all 20 nations which could open up an additional 1.2 trillion dollars in trade and create 43 million jobs globally.This is just one example of how we can demonstrate that co-operatives and mutuals are significant and valuable part of a diverse and sustainable economy in Australia and across all the G20 nations," said Dr Crane.
Photo: Brisbane, Australia, where the G20 Summit has taken place (c) Shutterstock