International news round-up 10-24 September

International/Geneva Co-operatives have the potential to contribute to the United Nations’ sustainable development agenda, according to a background paper published by the International Labour Organization. The paper is...


Co-operatives have the potential to contribute to the United Nations’ sustainable development agenda, according to a background paper published by the International Labour Organization.

The paper is based on the findings of a survey taken by the ILO’s Cooperatives Unit to determine how co-ops make a difference with concrete actions and engagement at local level. The 291 respondents said the themes of the proposed Sustainable Development Goals were in line with the priorities of their organisations.

The paper highlights the role of co-ops in filling in the gaps in the provision of services. They also help reduce poverty, tackle unemployment and promote gender equality. Across the world co-operatives, employ at least 100m people, while nearly half of the global population depend on co-ops for their livelihood. Moreover, women’s presence on financial co-operative boards in developing countries like Tanzania can reach 65%. The background paper is available online



Consumer-operated and oriented plans (CO-OPs) are changing the managed care sector in the USA. With the passing of the Affordable Care Act, more than $3bn in federal loan money is available to provide start-up and solvency capital to organisations seeking to establish CO-OPs.

So far, 23 health insurance CO-OPs have been set up under the Affordable Care Act. These are consumer-owned, though not all of them work as co-operatives.

An analysis by the Decision Resources Group found that, in the first year, 460,000 people in 23 states joined CO-OPs and, in New York, CO-OPs enrolled more members than their competitors. CO-OPs offer the lowest price in a third of the markets where they operate, according to an analysis by the Times. Furthermore, states with CO-OPs have premiums that average 8.5% lower than states that do not have them.



The Cooperative League of the USA (CLUSA) is extending its capacity building programme in Kenya. The project – Yes Youth Can!, is funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and due to be completed in July 2015.

The programme was designed to empower young people in Kenya, particularly in areas that saw post-election violence in 2007-2008 or are at risk of violent conflict in the future.

The project seeks to help young people gain the necessary skills to develop their own community service and economic development projects. They facilitate engagement between young people and government bodies, foundations, donors and the wider private sector to implement these projects. Another objective of the programme is to ensure women’s full participation in all activities.



José Graziano da Silva highlighted the important of co-operatives in India’s economy. During his first official mission to the country, the director general of the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) was named Doctor Honoris Causa by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) and made a Fellow of India’s National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS).

In his acceptance speech, he praised the Indian co-operative movement for empowering smallholder farmers.

“India can rightly claim to have the largest network of co-operatives in the world. The organisation of poor farmers into co-operatives is a way to give them voice, power and improve their access to training, credit and markets. The Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) is an example of how to empower women, drawing on microfinance and their entrepreneurship. And, of course, we have the Green Revolution that did exactly that: revolutionised agriculture in a way that was unthought-of of and helped save hundreds of millions from hunger,” he said.

José Graziano da Silva receives his fellowship  |  Photo: FAO
José Graziano da Silva receives his fellowship | Photo: FAO


Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández aims to create a new banking system in which financial co-operatives would play an important role.

Speaking at the country’s first Ideological Congress, Mr Hernández said the government would meet with representatives of the co-op movement to put forward an agenda for the sector.

Co-operators would also engage with the government on discussions on the programme “A better life”. This initiative aims to help 800,000 struggling families by providing them eco-stoves, cement floors, decent housing, family gardens and water filters. According to Mr Hernández, Co-operatives could help provide funding for building and repairing houses of the country’s poorest families.

“Let’s lay the basis for a co-operative system of solidarity to create new opportunities”, he said.



With the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, announcing his team of 27 commissioners, Cooperatives Europe has prepared a list of questions for them.

Jean-Claude Juncker
Jean-Claude Juncker

The European Parliament is due to vote to confirm the new commission in October. Candidates will then appear from of the relevant Parliamentary Committees, and Cooperatives Europe has prepared a list of questions they would like to put to commissioners-designate during the hearings.

The regional organisation of the International Co-operative Alliance has asked Junker’s team how they can create a level-playing field between the different forms of businesses, including co-ops, mutuals and social enterprises. The questions also touch on the issue of renewable energy and the role of the EU in supporting citizen-led green energy initiatives.

And Cooperatives Europe is asking Juncker’s team how they aim to promote entrepreneurial education among young people and inform students about the different business models, including co-operatives. The list of questions is available at

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