Around 200 co-operators from the Middle East and North Africa met in Morocco on 4-6 February to explore ways to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Discussion at the Co-operative Development Conference for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA-CDC) included ways to encourage partnerships between co-operatives and strengthen collective action to overcome challenges facing the sector.
The event was jointly organised by the International Co-operative Alliance’s regional organisations in Africa (ICA-Africa) and Asia-Pacific (ICA-AP), with support from the ICA-EU Partnership on Co-operatives in Development: People centred Businesses in Action.
Delegates worked to define a common vision and strategy for the development of co-operatives in the region, and to promote economic exchanges and sahre experiences.
Keynote speaker was Mohamed Sajid, minister of tourism and air transport, handicrafts and social economy, and the president of the Union of Arab Cooperatives.
Challenges faced by co-ops in the region include an unfavourable public perception of the sector, weak or ineffective apex bodies and a lack of women participation.
Participants talked about the institutional and legal environment for co-operatives in the MENA region, the current business climate, as well as their role in delivering the Sustainable Development Agenda.
The conference sessions focused on how to create an enabling environment for co-operatives, what role the sector could play in helping to meet the SDGs, enhancing co-operative to co-operative trade, identifying trends and emerging areas of business and creating a co-operative and inclusive society.