THE International Co-operative Alliance has challenged co-ops to help increase aid for the Third World and cut poverty by half.
A campaign has been launched in association with the Co-operative Party to encourage the worldwide Movement to rally support in their countries for the International Finance Facility (IFF).
In 2003 Chancellor Gordon Brown (pictured) first proposed the IFF idea, which is designed to bring aid to countries most in need to help the United Nations meet its Millennium Development Goals.
Through donor commitments from the richest countries, the scheme has boosted development aid by an extra $50 billion a year, which will last until 2015.
To work effectively however, it needs to get as many countries on board as possible. A website launched by the Co-operative Party (www.iff.coop) shows how co-ops can rally public opinion behind the initiative and it calls on all members worldwide to join in and show their support.
Pauline Green, Chief Executive and Secretary of Co-operatives UK and ICA Vice President Europe, issued the challenge for all co-operators worldwide to campaign for their governments to join the IFF scheme so the MDGs can be reached in 2015.
Dame Pauline told the News: "As an international Movement, we feel very strongly that this initiative should be supported and we are keen to throw the weight of our organisation behind it."
Last year, on the ICA's International Co-op Day, Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the UN, called on co-operatives worldwide to "promote and facilitate" the achievement of the MDGs through improved governance and fair globalisation.
Gareth Thomas, Minister for International Development and chair of the Co-op Party, said: "We believe any proposal that can ethically help achieve the Millennium Development Goals should be encouraged and given the largest possible support."
Gordon Brown, patron of the co-operative and mutual think-tank, Mutuo, said: "I believe the answer is not to retreat from globalisation or global co-operation. Instead we must step up our efforts to work together to advance social justice on a global scale, to the benefit of all.
"And we must do this with more international co-operation not less ? founded on the belief that not only do we have obligations to each other beyond our front doors and garden gates, responsibilities beyond the city wall and duties beyond our national borders but that, working together ? governments, business, NGOs, faith groups ? this generation, with its energy, technology and global reach, does indeed have it in its power ? if it so chooses ? to finally free the world from poverty, disease, illiteracy and want."