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ICA-EU Partnership on Co-operatives in Development

 People Centered Businesses in Action

Year One (March 2016-Feb 2017) – Status Report and Action Plan for Year Two (March 2017 – Feb2018)




i. Background


The ICA-EU Partnership agreement was signed in March 2016 in Brussels, Belgium, where the project team kicked off in June 2016. A meeting to review year 1 and plan year 2 was organized in March 2017 in San Jose, Costa Rica. The project aims on strengthening the Alliance at the global and regional level. Impacts at the global, regional and local level are envisioned owing to the nature, structure and scope of the Alliance and its management


Status – Year One 

ii.  Work areas and activities (Research & Action)




The Asia Pacific region as diverse as it is vast in all aspects. Steps were taken towards policy direction for the region in implementing the project. Sustainable Development Goals, Work & Ownership in Co-operatives and Youth inclusion in the co-operative movement are the three policy priorities.  Affiliates thus far are National Co-operative Council, Sri Lanka, Economic and Social Development Council of Palestine, National Association of Mongolian Agricultural Co-operatives, National Agricultural Central Co-operative Federation Limited, Nepal. Immediate priority is to increase the number of member organizations affiliated to the project and foster meaningful collaborations. 



a.       Background meetings, workshops and research 



[Focus areas – work and ownership in the co-operative typology normally represented by CICOPA]

Stakeholders meeting on collective entrepreneurship (focus on artisanal, industrial and service provider co-operatives) at Uralungal Labour IT Park in collaboration with  National Cooperative Union of India, National Labour Co-operative Federation (India), CICOPA and Uralungal Labour Contract Co-operative Society Ltd. The meeting largely focused on ‘workers’ co-operatives to learn about their ownership and management models as well as ‘social’ co-operatives and the role they can play in building a sustainable society. 



Following the stakeholders meeting, a regional workshop organized in collaboration with CICOPA and the National Co-operative Union of India on collective entrepreneurship and co-operatives with focus on industrial and service co-operatives during the 12th Regional Assembly in New Delhi. The half day workshop resulted in commitment from ICA-AP, the partnership program and CICOPA to develop thematic research projects and strategise the formation of networks representative of ‘work and co-operatives’




Consultative engagement and meetings on the subject matter with ULCCS, NCUI, ILO Sri Lanka office, SANASA Federation, National Federation of Handicrafts Co-operatives, Sri Lanka Consumer Co-operative Societies Federation and the National Co-operative Council of Sri Lanka, and the EU Delegation for Sri Lanka and Maldives, organized as a research based exploratory meeting in Colombo. Concept for the research and questionnaire sent out to members and stakeholders. Terms of reference and preliminary research and roles to be played will be discussed with CICOPA during 10th APCMC. Research estimated to be completed by ICA General Assembly in Malaysia 2017. Youth and Skill development to be included as sub themes under this study.


b.       Youth and co-operatives [Policy Event and Global Research Theme]



The 1st Asia Pacific youth summit attracted over 70 participants from 15 countries. The average age of participants can be said to be around 25 years. A day was spent on ‘Youth Panel on Co-operative Policy’ that brought together successful and young co-operators to share insights on what kind of policy must co-operatives adopt to promote inclusion of youth in co-operatives. The four main points from the youth statement adopted by youth participants are the following: Include and Mainstream youth in co-op management & leadership, Create awareness on co-op model, Promote Gender equality within and outside the co-op movement and Encourage research on co-operatives. 



All units of ICA-EU Partnership will begin a harmonized global research on youth and co-operatives. The main goals of the research would be to highlight how cooperatives can benefit the youth, and seek ways to enhance the inclusion, opportunities and empowerment offered by cooperatives to young people – especially by conveying suggestions stemming from the youth themselves. While a more refined focus ought to be further discussed between the regions, there already seems to be a consensus to link it with the programme’s advocacy activities. The outcomes could for instance fuel an advocacy strategy dedicated to address youth issues, in particular in the field of employment. The theme of youth will be ascertained considering the following sub themes: * Employment opportunities, * Education & training, * A sectorial approach – to reflect the contrasted situations in the sectors, * Innovation and innovative models, * Identifying constraints hindering them. The report will include best practices. Another interesting option could be to include practical toolkit/tools, aimed at the youth or at cooperatives.


c. Cooperative Development meeting [Run up to the regional platform]



The meeting was organized on a sub-regional basis and was aimed to enhance linkages & networking activities of co-operative organizations active in development and to develop synergies in the sub region among co-operatives in the areas of business, investment and trade that can result in the socio-economic growth of the individual members and communities, as co-ops are equitable in nature. The main objectives of the meeting are to create a platform for knowledge exchange among co-operative development organizations, establish trade and business linkages and institute a regional policy monitoring mechanism.



The meeting was organized in collaboration with Alliance member – Economic and Social Development Center of Palestine and the national umbrella organization for co-operatives in Jordan – the Jordan Co-operative Corporation (JCC), and saw the participation of Saudi Arabia Co-operative Societies Council, ILO representatives from Jerusalem and Amman, We Effect and Oxfam GB from Palestine and government representatives from the Ministry of Economy (UAE) and the Ministry of Labor (Palestine).   Key points of discussion: 1.) A need to map the community needs with a regional uniform co-operative law and Implementation of feasible taxation system for coops, 2.) The need for access to Finance and Loans for co-operatives must be addressed, 3.) There is a need to promote voluntary work-possibly to provide decent work and support needs of the community 4.) Research on co-operatives and market opportunities; Niche markets need to be identified, 5.)Enhance strong relationship with the ICA



Envision and strategically organize two sub-regional co-operative development meetings and launch a co-operative development network for Asia Pacific at a regional meeting-to coincide with a high level ICA-AP co-operative conference instrument. The network and the platform will focuses on co-operatives and development and can be used to help co-operative actors share knowledge and monitor contributions to SDGs on a regional level. A platform for global actors was launched in Quebec in October 2016 during the International Summit. 


d.       Bilateral / Multilateral Engagements


Over the course of year 1, staff working on the project reached out to the EU Delegations, international development agencies and supranational organizations to create awareness and express support of the Alliance and the ICA-EU Partnership. The following organizations were involved.


European Union Delegations to India & Bhutan; Sri Lanka & Maldives; Jordan, Philippines and Nepal

International Labour Organization – Offices in - Coop Unit (Geneva); Amman (Jordan); Beirut (Regional office for Arab states); Jerusalem (Palestine); Manila (Philippines), Colombo (Sri Lanka) and participation at the 16th ILO Regional Meeting for Asia Pacific in Bali (Indonesia) and ASEAN Co-operative Business Forum – Meeting in Manila (Philippines).


Institute of Rural Management Anand (India) – One of the renowned institutes on rural management in India organized a conference on farmer producer organizations that exist as enterprises that work with co-operative principles but are registered under a legislation meant for corporations.


South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation – SAARC was communicated with on multiple accounts. The SAARC secretariat is seated in Kathmandu and ICA-AP engaged this regional body in an attempt to monitor policies of member states. SAARC will also be engaged during capacity building activity on youth in Bhutan in year 2.


Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) –ICA was represented at the third GCC Forum by the regional director considering enhancing membership from the region and finding synergies in work areas. 


Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG)

BCCM (Australia) represented the Partnership at the MSG spearhead group meeting where an introduction to the Alliance was shared and the need to engage with co-operatives, highlighted, with other participants. 


e. Visibility 


EU section in the Newsletter and Social Media Drive


Annual Action Plan- Asia Pacific ICA-EU Partnership on Coops in Development