Wednesday: World of Rural Co-operation

On Wednesday, 31 October, a special, open to all session on the world of rural co-operation will present the Dunsany Declaration at Co-operatives United.

On Wednesday, 31 October, a special, open to all session on the world of rural co-operation will present the Dunsany Declaration at Co-operatives United.

The document, issued on World Food Day (16 October), aims to provide an incentive for a decade of co-operative growth in rural communities and feeds into the ICA's Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade, which is being discussed at the General Assembly at Co-operatives United on the same day, from 13:00 until 18:00.

The session begins at 11:30 with an introduction from Jim Metcalfe, Practice and Development Manager of the Carnegie UK Trust. 

The introduction will be followed by Peter Couchman’s presentation of the Dunsany Declaration for Rural Co-operative Development. Mr Couchman is Chief Executive of Plunkett Foundation, which co-ordinated the declaration. 

Referring to the declaration, Peter Couchman said:  “We feel that this is the right time to launch the Dunsany Declaration to both appreciate the role that agricultural co-operatives have in feeding the world today while also outlining the critical role of rural co-operatives in their many forms, by addressing key issues facing the world. 

“Co-operative approaches enable rural people and rural communities to meet the increasingly urgent challenges facing the world, including feeding a growing population while meeting their own everyday needs and improving their own lives.” 

The declaration asks for supportive policies and legislation for co-operatives all over the world, as a key part of international development strategies. The document also emphasised the importance of developing an empowering, rather than a prescriptive co-operative legislation.

The declaration also suggested placing rural co-ops at the heart of a major programme of education and advocacy led by co-operative sectors, national and international agencies. According to the declaration, access to technologies for rural co-ops is essential, and so is financial support for rural co-ops.

Other keynote speakers include Martin Lowery, Executive Vice President, External Affairs of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) and Simel Esim, the Programme Manager of the Co-operative Branch at the International Labour Organization in Geneva. 

The Dunsany Declaration, a framework for the development of rural co-operatives internationally, was developed by a range of participants from individual co-operatives, United Nations agencies, international co-operative agencies, national co-operative support organisations and co-operative sector representatives, who together formed the ‘Dunsany Group’. 

The Plunkett Foundation was founded in 1919 by Sir Horace Plunkett, the pioneer of agricultural co-operation in Ireland. Plunkett has a long history of promoting and supporting the development of rural co-operatives internationally.  

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