International news round-up (7-20 May 2014)

Russia The second Whole Russian Congress gathered over 800 delegates in Saint Petersburg to discuss the future of rural co-operatives. The congress was opened by Evgeny Kuznetsov, chairman...


The second Whole Russian Congress gathered over 800 delegates in Saint Petersburg to discuss the future of rural co-operatives.

The congress was opened by Evgeny Kuznetsov, chairman of the Council of Centrosojuz and board member of the International Co-operative Alliance.

Participants discussed co-operative legislation and state support, credit unions and consumer co-operatives, as well as youth co-operation. Delegates also took part in the agro-industrial exhibition Agrorus Regions, which is a forum for exchanging ideas and experiences of new state support measures and regulation for rural co-operatives.

During the events, participants highlighted some of the main obstacles to co-operative development, such as the lack of unity at local level among co-operators. They agreed that co-operatives in some regions should try to make connections and make efficient use of various consolidated organisations to exchange experience, technical knowledge and resources.

Guest speaker at the event, deputy prime minister of the Russian Federation, Arkadiy Dvorkovich, revealed that rural co-operatives would be included in the government’s development programmes and would be able to receive state support. He said food security was a key issue on the government’s agenda, with rural co-operation playing a key role in achieving this.

New Zealand

Cooperative Business New Zealand has appointed Ian Macintosh as its new chief executive. Born in the UK, Mr Macintosh brings international experience to the country’s apex body for co-operatives, having worked in the Netherlands, South East Asia, Canada, and Australia, as well as New Zealand.

“I have always been involved with agricultural commodities, supply chain and world markets, which has brought me into in contact with co-ops globally,” he said. “It is a business model for which I have enormous respect; the principles around co-ops are imperative to maintaining a sustainable and ethical approach to business.”

Co-operatives account for 3% of New Zealand’s national domestic product, with 43,000 employees and a turnover of NZ$41bn (£20.9bn) a year.

“My main objectives initially are to continue raising the profile and success of co-ops in New Zealand,” added Mr Macintosh.

“Co-operatives are like our iconic emblem, the kiwi; a little shy about being seen. We have to change that, be proud to be a co-op and successful: New Zealand-owned enterprises, New Zealand-retained profits, New Zealand employment.”

International / Geneva

Co-operatives will be on the agenda at this year’s International Labour Conference taking place in Geneva on 28 May. As part of a discussion on the transition from the informal to the formal economy, delegates will discuss the role of co-operatives in this process.

In a recent report, the International Labour Organization (ILO) highlighted a series of actions that could be taken to stimulate the transition from the informal to the formal economy, including developing co-operative enterprises. The conclusions of the report will be discussed in more detail at ILO’s conference, with the aim of adopting an instrument establishing the framework for action in the form of a recommendation.

Simel Esim, chief of ILO’s Co-operative branch said: “For the co-operative movement this labour standard is important because it will be an opportunity to integrate language that establishes co-operatives and mutuals among critical pathways toward formalisation of the informal economy. The added benefit of the co-operative and mutual model compared to other models of enterprises is that they do this while also attending to issues of democratic decision making, collective voice and concern for community.”

The co-operative movement will be represented at the conference by Bruno Roelants, secretary general of CECOP, the European confederation of co-operatives and worker owned enterprises active in industry and services.


Co-operators in the United States celebrated Co-operative Week, throughout the first week of May, with a series of events designed to raise the profile of the movement. The National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) commenced the week with a board meeting where it discussed the 2013 financial reports.

On 7 May, the Cooperative Development Foundation hosted the Cooperative Issue Forum at the National press Club in Washington, where Dame Pauline Green, president of the International Co-operative Alliance, delivered a keynote speech.

To celebrate the significant contribution of individuals to the co-operative movement, the NCBA in partnership with the Cooperative Development Foundation will be hosting this year’s Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. The Cooperative Hall of Fame gallery is on display at NCBA CLUSA headquarters in Washington, D.C. and online at

As part of the week, NCBA also hosted its annual international staff retreat in Washington, with staff members coming from across the world to participate in training events, shaping vision statements and organisational strategies.


The Kenyan Union of Saving and Credit Co-operatives (KUSCCO) has launched a credit facility that will enable credit union members to obtain loans to purchase cookstoves. Many Kenyans in rural areas cook using charcoal and firewood as sources of fuel, a method which contributes to 15,000 deaths annually from chronic exposure to smoke.

The cookstove-specific credit facility could be accessed by 1,350 saving and credit co-operative societies. The project is expected to help to improve the lives of many people as clean cookstoves reduce air pollution, improve health, and increase household savings.

The initiative is funded through a grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Winrock International, a non-profit organisation that works to empower disadvantaged people across the world. George Ototo, managing director at KUSCCO, said: “This partnership will ensure the fund achieves the desired impact among the bottom of the pyramid population in Kenya, which constitutes the majority target group.”

USAID has also joined the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, which works to foster the adoption of 100 million clean cook stoves by 2020.


Copa-Cogeca, the organisations representing European farmers and agricultural co-operatives, has launched a manifesto outlining the priorities for the EU agriculture sector in the run-up to the European Parliament elections.

In this manifesto, Copa-Cogeca call for a strong EU agriculture sector and international trade agreements that respect high EU production standards, as well as a better income from market for farmers. It also goes on to discuss the EU’s common agricultural policy (CAP). Copa-Cogeca believe a good budget deal is crucial to the success of the CAP.

The organisations urge European Parliament candidates to campaign for the maintenance of a European agricultural sector that is sustainable, competitive and resource efficient. They also urge MEPs to maximise the potential of agriculture, forestry, aquaculture and fisheries sectors and create new business opportunities in the EU’s agri-food sector, which employs over 40 million people. The manifesto is available online.

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