On August 2, 2023, the U.S. Overseas Cooperative Development Council (OCDC)’s International Cooperative Research Group (ICRG), in collaboration with OCDC member, NCBA CLUSA, held the second session of the ICRG’s Tools for Better Cooperative Development Learning Series. This session showcased the Cooperative Law and Regulation Initiative (CLARITY), a tool jointly developed by OCDC’s members with cooperatives and their legal operational environment in mind.
The webinar offered a platform to celebrate CLARITY’s achievements among stakeholders, share success stories from its applications in different countries, and engage in discussions on CLARITY’s content and future enhancements.
Paul Hazen, Executive Director of OCDC, highlighted the power of joint action as seen through results of collaboration between OCDC members and their cooperative partners. He stated, “Working together, OCDC members have learned powerful lessons about creating an enabling environment for successful cooperative development. [CLARITY] is a great example of the role cooperatives play in locally led development, legal reform from the bottom-up, based on cooperative principles and values.”
In 2021, OCDC/ICRG supported foundational research to understand how CLARITY could be updated to respond to current conditions around the world based on evidence and experience. With support from OCDC/ICRG and USAID, NCBA CLUSA convened a working group of cooperative legal experts to conduct a thorough assessment of the tool and provide recommendations for revisions, which subsequently validated and expanded CLARITY’s applications.
The CLARITY tool supports the ICRG’s research approach, which focuses on developing tools that are tailored to cooperatives and grounded in existing knowledge. Dr. Judith A. Hermanson, ICRG Director, noted, “The CLARITY tool, backed by evidence and local knowledge, has provided the foundation for a cooperative-led process to reform laws and regulations affecting cooperative development worldwide.”
Alex Serrano, Senior Vice President for International Programs at NCBA CLUSA, underscores how partnerships have been the cornerstone of CLARITY’s success. He states, “Working hand-in-hand with partners and cooperative stakeholders enriches the process, ensuring it is both applicable and impactful. More importantly it helps to build a common vision and strong collaboration which is key to building a stronger cooperative enabling environment.”
The event’s speakers and presenters included Santosh Kumar—Director of Legislation at the ICA and a CLARITY international fellow, other CLARITY international fellows including Dr. Claudia Paredes (Guatemala) and Dr. Carlos Naranjo (Ecuador); NCBA CLUSA’s Country Coordinator in Madagascar Abel Rakotonirainy; CLARITY consultant in the Dominican Republic Deivinson Jiminez; Olga Oyier, Team Lead/Policy and Legislative Affairs Specialist of Global Communities’ USAID CDP-funded CLEAR project; and NCBA CLUSA’s CLARITY expert consultants Dr. Willy Tadjudje and Ed Potter.