International news round up: 2 December 2014

International  |  Australia A report that came out of the G20 Summit in Australia mentions the role of co-operatives in food security. The summit, which brings together the...

International  |  Australia

A report that came out of the G20 Summit in Australia mentions the role of co-operatives in food security. The summit, which brings together the heads of state of the world’s 20 largest economies, published a Food Security and Nutrition Framework Report in November.

One of the priority objectives set out in the framework is to increase responsible investment in food systems. The document highlights that private enterprises, including small and medium-sized food system enterprises, family farms and co-operatives, are central to lifting agricultural productivity.

Another report to the G20 Development Working Group by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) also emphasised that co-operatives can help farmers organise to achieve scale and bargain more effectively.


International  |  Canada

A book based on papers presented at the Imagine 2012 Conference is now available.

The conference also resulted in a set of four DVDs, which can be used as an educational tool by co-operative practitioners.

Sonja Novkovic, professor of economics at Saint Mary’s University and chair of the International Co-operative Alliance’s committee on co-operative research, said the book, titled Co-operatives in a Post-Growth Era, aimed to highlight an alternative economic model. This would provide a different way of thinking about finance, socio-economic relations and the purpose of economics in addressing societal wellbeing.

Tom Webb, adjunct professor at Saint Mary’s University School of Business and co-editor of the book with Prof Novkovic, said: “For co-operatives wanting their elected leaders and managers to see the economic importance of co-operatives in an increasingly fragile world, these are powerful learning tools.”

DVD sets can be ordered by emailing [email protected], while the book can be bought online from Zed Books in the UK, or in Canada from Fernwood Publishing.



The International Co-operative Alliance will hold its 2015 global conference and general assembly in Antalya, Turkey. The event, held every two years, will gather delegates from all over the world to discuss the future of the global movement.

The theme of the conference is “Towards 2020 – What will your co-operative look like?”, and will include four plenary sessions and four breakout sessions where delegates will focus on issues such as sustainability, participation, legal framework, capital and identity – all important pillars of the Alliance’s Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade.

With less than 12 months until the event, the Alliance has launched a website dedicated to the General Assembly and Global Conference where co-operators can find out more about the event and the programme.



milkMilk prices in Greece have increased by more than 12% in the last four years, but a co-operative is now selling fresh milk at affordable prices through vending machines. Residents living in the Greek city of Larissa, the capital and largest city of the Thessaly region, can now buy fresh milk 24 hours a day.

The innovative scheme was launched last year by the Cooperative of Thessaly-Pieria Cattle Farmers. They named the initiative ThESgala-Pies (a play on the names of Thessaly and Pieria meaning Want milk? Drink).

The initiative came about when the co-operative started looking for cost-efficient ways to cut out the middlemen and get milk directly to consumers. Each morning, fresh pasteurised milk is put into 14 vending machines in Larissa, and a further six in Thesaloniki. People can either bring their own bottle to fill or purchase them from the machine.

The Cooperative of Thessaly-Pieria Cattle Farmers was established in 2011 and now comprises 102 cattle farmers with 57 milk production centres, accounting for 10% of domestic production.



The Co-operative University College of Kenya has developed a number of courses to address potential gaps in terms of management and governance within saving and credit co-operative organisations (Saccos).

These include courses on individual lending and delinquency management, risk management and corporate governance development for Saccos staff and directors. Thirty-nine Saccos directors have already gone through the programme, while another 34 Saccos staff members have been trained in individual lending, delinquency management and risk management.

Last month the college also launched a new website which includes reports, videos, case studies and market research. The initiative aims to help strengthen Saccos and help them realise their full potential.


Puerto Rico

Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla
Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla

A Puerto Rican law will enable co-operatives to benefit from financial help with development and expansion costs. Under the Law 175-2014, signed by Governor Alejandro García Padilla (right) on 23 October, co-operatives are eligible for financial assistance in order to grow their business.

When starting up, co-operatives can receive financial support from FIDECOOP, a non-profit organisation attached to the Co-operative Development Commission of Puerto Rico which offers capital investment and other financial tools for new co-ops.

FIDECOOP was created in 2002 with the passing of the Enabling Law for the Investment Fund and Co-operative Development. This law has now been amended to include co-operatives seeking to expand and further develop.

On signing the law, governor Alejandro García Padilla highlighted the important contribution of co-operative enterprises to the country’s economy. “The development and expansion of Puerto Rican co-operatives has become an essential element for the country’s economic growth,” said the governor. “In turn, the movement is a facilitator for achieving full employment, social development and prosperity for all citizens.”

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