EU agreement on sustainable development highlights role of co-ops

The document sets out an agreement for meeting the UN goals for 2030, and recognises the movement's ability to reach 'the most vulnerable and marginalised'

The European Union’s new Consensus on Development stresses the role played by co-operatives in the implementation of the UN’s development agenda for 2030.

Adopted on 17 May, the document is a joint agreement among the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council, setting out a new framework for development co-operation for the EU and its member states.

The EU is the world’s largest development aid donor, accounting for more than half of assistance worldwide. The consensus is a response to the UN’s 2030 agenda for sustainable development, establishing a strategy for reaching the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

The document includes a recognition of the importance of co-operatives as development actors. Cooperatives Europe, the regional office of the International Co-operative Alliance, has spent the past year in consultations over the policy and has welcomed its recognition of the movement.

The consensus highlights that “co-operatives … have become instrumental partners in reaching the most vulnerable and marginalised people”. The EU also pledges to promote and defend the “space where these development actors can operate safely … for achieving sustainable development.”

The document adds that the EU will be promoting “the creation of farmers’ organisations and co-operatives to address, among others, better productivity of family farms, land-use rights and traditional farmer-based seed systems.”

The EU says it will also “promote private sector initiatives and social enterprises, co-operatives, and women and youth entrepreneurs, to boost the provision of local services as well as inclusive and green business models”.

Marc Noel, international development director, said: “We welcome the new Consensus on Development and especially the recognition of co-operatives as key actors to support achieving the implementation of the SDGs.

“Within our ICA-EU partnership, we remain committed that together we can pave a better future for development and co-operation worldwide, relying on people-centred businesses anchored in their local communities.”

Federica Mogherini, EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, said: “The new European consensus for development makes the EU even stronger to tackle today’s challenges and promote sustainable development and eradication of poverty all over the world. Investing in sustainable development is investing in our common security and prosperity.”

George Vella, minister for foreign affairs for Malta, which currently holds the EU presidency, added: “Today’s agreement confirms the commitment of all member states to work together on a shared agenda and priorities for the EU’s co-operation with all developing countries over the years to come.

“We are proud that the Maltese presidency has succeeded in securing a consensus.”

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