World leaders back cooperatives at Rio+20

World leaders showed their support for cooperatives by backing the business model in the document created at the UN’s Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development. Held June 20-22 in Rio de Janeiro, the Rio+20 was attended by 190 countries, marking and 20 years since the original “Earth Summit.”

The outcome document identifies action points to help create a sustainable future and reduce poverty and food insecurity.

“Members and supporters of cooperatives have long known — co-ops help lift people out of poverty, advance gender equality, give back to the community and address head-on the critical issues of sustainable development. What nations did in Rio today was to state that case in writing,” said Dame Pauline Green, President of the International Cooperative Alliance.

Betsy Dribben, ICA director of policy, said, “Just as we’ve been saying over and over again in this UN International Year of Cooperatives — this values-based business model can really make good things happen. Now country leaders at the Rio signing have made it clear they finally ‘get it.’”

Here’s how cooperatives appear in the final document:

  • We acknowledge the role of cooperatives and microenterprises in contributing to social inclusion and poverty reduction in particular in developing countries.
  • We resolve by [2020/2030] to sustainably increase agricultural production and productivity, including through improving the function of markets and international support mechanisms, particularly for the developing countries, with a view to increasing public and private investment in agriculture and rural development. Key areas for investment and support include: sustainable agricultural practices; rural infrastructure, storage capacities and related technologies to significantly reduce post-harvest and other food losses and waste throughout the food cycle; research and development on sustainable agricultural technologies; developing strong agricultural cooperatives and value chains; and strengthening urban-rural linkages.
  • We are encouraged by government initiatives to create jobs, for poor people in restoring and managing natural resources and ecosystems, and we encourage the private sector to contribute to decent work and green job creation for both women and men, and particularly for the youth, including through partnerships with small and medium enterprises as well as cooperatives.