Towards the consolidation of political and legislative frameworks to strengthen cooperativism

Managers of promotion organizations, parliamentarians and officials from international organizations exchanged views on how to increase incidence and improve joint work between sectoral organizations and public powers in each country and at the regional level.

Under the title Advocacy and Public Policies for the Cooperative Impact in the Real Economy, this panel of the 23rd Regional Conference gave the floor to different exponents to express their point of view when thinking about the best paths towards the construction of regulatory frameworks and governmental organizations that favor the development of the cooperative model.

In this sense, Martín Fernández Aizcorbe, president of the National Institute of Cooperatives (Inacoop) of Uruguay and currently in charge of the Network of Promotion Organizations that we promote from Cooperatives of the Americas, spoke.

“Public policies is an expression that is repeated in different panels of this Conference and it is reasonable. This is necessary and that is why we want to strengthen the link between cooperative organizations and the States,” he stressed. “States must promote cooperativism and we, as cooperators, also have to express the sector before other areas of the State.”

Fernández Aizcorbe highlighted “the commitment to the community and the resilience of the cooperatives during the health emergency, especially with the generation and formalization of employment, which continues to be sustained.”

Going forward, he raised the need to work on training, financing and strategic communication in the sector. In addition, she announced the concrete possibility of training Latin American parliamentarians, based on a concern raised some time ago by the president of Cooperatives of the Americas, Graciela Fernández Quintas.  

On this panel there were two representatives from Brazil who completed the panorama of advocacy and joint work on the side of cooperative organizations and the Legislative Branch. Tania Zanella, superintendent of the OCB System, showed the economic and social impact of the sector in her country, where there are more than 4.6 thousand cooperatives with 20 million members.

This organizational volume is transformed into a direct impact on the executive, legislative and judicial powers, as demonstrated by deputy Geovânia de Sá, member of the Cooperative Parliamentary Front.

FrenCoop is the third largest of the 257 parliamentary fronts that exist in the Brazilian Congress. It is made up of 325 parliamentarians from different political forces who come together to defend the interests of cooperativism.

Cynthia Giagnocavo, who leads the ICA Research Committee, spoke about how to achieve favorable ecosystems to achieve this type of impact in institutional settings.

This space seeks to be a bridge between academic research and the work of organizations in the cooperative sector, which is why it becomes essential to have their contributions.

In relation to the topic of the panel, Giagnocavo listed adequate political and regulatory frameworks, supportive culture, markets and resource systems, support for cooperative agents, networks and collaborations as key elements when building ecosystems favorable to cooperatives.

Also representing legislative powers was Juan Carlos Moreno, Parlatino deputy and representative of Paysandú, the first national capital of cooperativism in Uruguay.

Moreno told about a model law for Latin America and the Caribbean, already approved by the Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Commission, which will allow agri-food cooperatives to be strengthened.

The FAO regional office contributed to this project, which was also a participant in our Conference through its representative Ignacio Moncayo. “Cooperatives are essential for agri-food systems, which are hyper-concentrated.”

Moncayo said that the co-construction of this model law in Parlatino is a contribution to reversing “paradoxes such as Latin America having the highest food inflation in the world, being the main food exporting region.”

Precisely this problem was addressed by Jimi Richardson, head of the World Food Program. “Cooperatives can contribute to food security and sovereignty,” he said.

Through national networks and a food purchasing program, this program becomes “the largest humanitarian agency in the world,” with 32 million beneficiaries in 35 countries and territories in the region.

The WFP addresses the drama of hunger from several angles, such as school feeding, strengthening food systems, and emergency response. In 2022, it totaled the purchase of 85 thousand metric tons of food, many of them from small farmers.

The closing of the panel was led by the secretary of the Executive Committee, Ricardo López, who highlighted the growth of cooperative incidence as governments and international organizations pay more and more attention and space to the sector's agenda.

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