Civil Society

FAO and ICA renew their partnership, pledging to support cooperatives as key actors to achieve the SDGs

Photo ©FAO: Members of a farmers' cooperative in Kenya weigh sacks of green gram

05/07/2021 - 

FAO and the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) have renewed their collaboration for an additional three years, focusing on further strengthening cooperatives’ technical capacities.

The partnership between these two organizations has been in place since 2018, helping to promote the role of cooperatives in achieving key aspects of FAO’s mandate, such as food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture. ICA, which represents and serves cooperatives worldwide, provides a global voice and forum for knowledge, expertise and coordinated action for and about cooperatives. The alliance works at the global and regional level to create the legislative environments that allow cooperatives to form and grow, and is one of the largest non-governmental organizations in terms of number of people represented, with 1 billion cooperative members around the world.

Together, ICA and FAO have participated in campaigns and events which spotlight the contribution of cooperatives, including the 2020 International Day of Cooperatives, when FAO participated as a speaker at the ICA-DESA co-organized webinar dedicated to the theme “COOPS 4 CLIMATE ACTION.” In 2019, FAO and ICA led working sessions in the XXI Regional Conference of Cooperatives of the Americas, including one on the “UN Decade of Family farming: what contribution from cooperatives?” and on “Improving knowledge management within organizations to enhance their ability to promote enabling policies”.

The two organizations have also focused on improving cooperatives’ technical capacity and expertise in the food and agriculture sector. ICA’s ‘Coops for 2030’ platform, which collects pledges from cooperatives around the world on areas related to the SDGs, was enlarged in consultation with FAO, to include an area on building more sustainable food systems and other action areas related to food and agriculture: eradicating poverty, improving access to basic goods and services, and protecting the environment.

FAO and ICA have also published a series of policy briefs on the contribution of cooperatives to the achievement of the SDGs. Within the framework of a joint collaboration under the Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives (COPAC), the partnership has also contributed to a new COPAC strategy, which takes into account current challenges, including the COVID-19 health crisis.

Cooperatives are also key to implementing the pillars of the UN Decade of Family Farming (2019-2028), as they play a fundamental role in supporting family farmers and promoting the shift towards more inclusive and sustainable food systems. In particular, FAO and ICA have supported cooperatives in contributing to Pillar 4 – Strengthen family farmers’ organizations and capacities to generate knowledge, represent farmers and to provide inclusive services in the urban-rural continuum, through strengthening cooperatives’ participation in multi-stakeholder policy dialogues organized by Member Nations.

Going forward, FAO and ICA plan to continue their collaboration in supporting, enhancing and promoting the unique contributions that cooperatives bring as crucial partners in the eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition, the reduction of rural poverty and the sustainable management of natural resources.