FAO and the UN Economic and Social Council strengthen the link with cooperatives, “key allies” for sustainable development

Paula Narváez Ojeda, president of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (Ecosoc), and Mario Lubetkin, deputy director general and regional representative of FAO, were the notable presences who accompanied us at the closing of the 23rd Regional Conference.

They did it together with the president of Cooperatives of the Americas, Graciela Fernández Quintas; the president of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), Ariel Guarco; and NCBA Clusa President and CEO, Doug O’Brien.

It was the epilogue of the two days which took place at the Center for Development and Training in Social Economy (Cedefoes), managed by the Coacehl Cooperative in Comayagua, Honduras.

The Conference was broadcast live on digital platforms and in total more than 900 cooperative members from across the continent and other parts of the world participated.

The closing panel was held under the slogan Looking to the Future, An Economy at the Service of People and Communities, from America to the Global.

Firstly, O'Brien celebrated the "inspiring" meeting convened by Cooperatives of the Americas and considered that "effective cooperative development is more necessary than ever."

The American director pointed out that “the only path we can take towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals is with more robust cooperatives around the world. For this, it is essential that there are better policies that favor people who choose this cooperative path.

Finally, O'Brien invited the entire American cooperative movement to the Coop Impact Conference, organized by NCBA Clusa on October 2 and 3 in Washington.

To its turn, Narvaez Ojeda expressed the commitment and expectation of the United Nations system to work together with the segment of civil society integrated into cooperatives.

The represent chilena, today in charge of Ecosoc, warned that “the world is far from achieving the SDGs and it is crucial to accelerate progress towards their implementation” and stressed that “world leaders recognize that cooperatives are part of the solution.”

In that sense, he highlighted the resolutions on cooperatives in social development, approved by the United Nations General Assembly, and the proposal to proclaim 2025 as the International Year of Cooperatives.

Regarding the upcoming agenda, he also raised challenges to take advantage of the opportunity generated by the World Social Summit, also scheduled for 2025, and the closest Future Summit, in September 2024.

“We need to focus support on cooperatives as sustainable and thriving companies,” concluded Narváez Ojeda.

Lubetkin, for its part, reaffirmed that “cooperatives are key allies” and highlighted their role in the fight against hunger and in the inclusion of family farming in agri-food chains.

“Associativity and cooperative identity directly impact more efficient, inclusive, sustainable and resilient food systems.”

The FAO representative considered that the collective action that this model carries out allows progress towards sustainability throughout the agri-food chain, responding to the challenges that arise in the dynamics of production, distribution, financing, logistics and consumption.

Finally, Lubetkin warned that by 2050, 50 percent more food must be produced, "therefore cooperatives are key allies when it comes to contributing to food security in the coming decades."

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