Strengthen intercontinental alliances for sustainable development

The second day of the Regional Conference began with a series of exchanges about the possibilities of joint work under the EU-Celac Summit in search of projects to channel development and reduce inequalities in the Americas.

The sixth panel opened the space for the exchange of experiences, proposals and views about how international cooperation is the force capable of mobilizing the necessary resources to increase the economic, social and environmental impact that our territories need.

Moderated by Danilo Salerno, Regional Director of Cooperatives of the Americas, the different presentations provided a glimpse of investment opportunities and strategic alliances with the cooperative sector of the Americas to achieve sustainable development.

The intercooperation agreement between this Region of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) and Social Economy Europe is framed along these lines, announced precisely during this panel by the respective authorities, Graciela Fernández Quintas and Juan Antonio Pedreño.

The latter outlined an overview of his region and shared the results left by the last European Conference on Social Economy, held in San Sebastian, Spain, where some American representatives participated among another 600 people from 19 countries.

As salient data, in Europe there are 2.8 million social economy companies, with 14 million associated people. They represent 8% of the GDP and 6,3% of employment on that continent.

For this there is an Action Plan, worked on by Social Economy Europe, approved by the European Union and supported by resolutions on this sector from the UN, ILO and OECD, among other international organizations.

Pedreño said that, in this way, they seek to create an ecosystem favorable to the growth of this socio-business model, which could represent 10% of employment in 2030. “It is a transversal model, based on cooperative principles and values, which are ultimately the backbone of the social economy.”

The latest advances commented on by Pedreño coincide with the Spanish presidency of the EU. In this sense, we have the intervention in person of José Francisco Tomas, general coordinator of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation AECID in Honduras.

“Our policy has once again brought the EU-Celac summit to the fore, achieving top-level dialogues and making qualitative leaps in relation to major challenges such as climate change, the digital revolution and social justice.”

For Tomas, the manifesto that crowned the San Sebastian Conference shows the way to continue betting on the social economy when it comes to strengthening ties of cooperation and deepening joint work between countries in both regions. 

“We must intensify the role of the social economy in foreign policy and strengthen associations to advance together in meeting the sustainable development goals,” he considered.

In relation to the geopolitical map and opportunities for intercooperation, Honduras – host of this 23rd Conference of Cooperatives of the Americas – assumes the presidency of CELAC in January 2024.

In that sense, the presence of Alfredo Gadea, EU delegate in this Central American country, was extremely valuable. “We are strategic allies to strengthen a rules-based international system, consolidate joint actions and promote peace, security, the rule of law, democracy and human rights,” he said.

Gadea also pointed out that the EU is the main investor in the region, the third largest trading partner and the main contributor to development cooperation. “Both regions must move towards inclusive and sustainable societies.”

According to the EU's 2021-2027 multi-annual programming for the Americas, there are some 140 strategic investment projects in our region with a focus on areas such as climate, energy, digital transition, health, education and research.

The Director of the National Institute of Social Economy (Inaes) of Mexico, Juan Manuel Martínez Louvier, spoke about the importance of addressing these issues in a regional meeting of this magnitude.

“These times are not just any time. The efforts of governments and the resolutions of organizations that guide governments to promote the social economy have full convergence with the place that this business model has when it comes to facing the challenges that humanity is experiencing,” he stated.

The conclusions of the panel were led by the vice president of the Board of Directors of Cooperatives of the Americas, José Alves de Sousa Neto, who thanked all those who participated “for the great learning they left behind and above all for the messages of hope to improve the world we live in.”

A message from Susanne Westhausen, president of the European regional of the ICA, was transmitted on this stage, who encouraged the cooperative sector to continue working together, in interregional alliances that promote the agenda of governments and international organizations.

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