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The International Co-operative Alliance Asia and Pacific (ICA-AP) in a strategic collaboration with Dewan Koperasi Indonesia or the Indonesian Co-operative Council (DEKOPIN), the ASEAN Co-operative Organization (ACO) and with support from the ICA-EU Partnership on Co-operatives in Development (#Coops4Dev) organized a capacity building seminar aimed at multilateral advocacy for development of co-operatives in the ASEAN region. The seminar was organized in Jakarta, Indonesia from July 24-26, 2018.

 

All set for an engaging, informative and participative Seminar!

 

The objective of the seminar was to see how the cooperative movement in south-east Asian countries could work to advocate for the ASEAN to give broader recognition to co-operatives (from the current focus on agriculture co-operatives) in its Economic, Social and Cultural Blueprints; understand the commonalities in the structures of the European Union (EU) and the ASEAN; and to enhance engagement with the EU delegations. The participants were able to get their views known to the representatives of both the ASEAN Secretariat and the Delegation of the European Union to Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam.

 

The participation of Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA), The Deutsche Genossenschafts-und Raiffeisenverband (Co-operative federation for German Co-operatives, DGRV), European Network of Filipino Diaspora (ENFiD), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Fairtrade Network of Asia & Pacific Producers (NAPP), European federation of renewable energy cooperatives (REScoop.eu), United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), We Effect (formerly Swedish Cooperative Centre), and World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) helped broaden the dialogue with stakeholders. The participation of ICA members from ASEAN; Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines & Singapore, and Civil Society Organizations/Government representatives responsible for co-operatives from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and the Philippines, will help to engage with the ASEAN in-country and with the Secretariat in Jakarta.

 

Drs. Tulus addresses the participants of the Seminar

 

Drs. Robby Tulus, former-Regional Director, ICA-AP set the tone of the seminar with the rationale for regional integration and relevance of enabling instruments such as the ASEAN Economic Blueprint for Co-operatives. Ms. Eva Kusuma Sundari, Member of the House of Representatives, Republic of Indonesia informed stakeholders and seminar participants about the development of co-operative movement in the country and its active role in nation building exercise. Mr. Tan Ghee Tiong, Head of Culture & Information Division, Sustainable Development Directorate, ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) later elaborated on the history and formation of ASEAN and its engagements with Civil Society Organizations and co-operatives.

 

Mr. Daniele de Bernardi, Programme Manager, Delegation of the European Union to Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam welcomed the delegates for their participation in this important gathering and touched upon EU’s priorities in the relationship with ASEAN while discussing about the ASEAN Farmers’ Organization Support Programme. As part of developing and enhancing the technical, institutional and political capabilities of ICA member federations, the ICA-EU Partnership envisions co-operatives to have a sound knowledge about the structures of the EU, the role of the delegations, potential collaborations, etc. and how to get in contact and advocate vis-à-vis the EU Delegations & institutions. Hence, one whole day in the seminar was dedicated to understating the structure of European Union External Action (EEAS) & European Union Delegation (EUD), the process to apply for a Europe Aid proposal, country roadmaps with civil society and sharing of experiences by participants on liaising with EU institutions.

 

Mr. Danielle de Bernadi, Program Manager, EU Delegation to Indonesia & Brunei during his welcome speech

 

Datuk Dr. Mohd Ghazali Md Noor, Strategic Advisor, ASEAN Co-operative Organization (ACO) apprised the participants on the structural arms for co-operative development in ASEAN and the role of ACO. Ms. Kaori Abe, Program Officer, FAO Regional Office for Asia-Pacific discussed about various initiatives undertaken by FAO for strengthening the engagement with farmers organizations and agriculture co-operatives in the region, to advocate the importance of the UN Decade of Family Farming. Mr. Dian Sukmajaya from the Agriculture Industries and Natural Resources Division of ASEAN Secretariat briefed the participants on the key programs initiated by ASEAN Centre for the Development of Agricultural Cooperatives (ACEDAC) and the ASEAN Sectoral Working Group on Agricultural Cooperatives (ASWGAC) for a competitive, inclusive, resilient and sustainable Food, Agriculture, and Forestry (FAF) sector in the region.

 

The seminar also dedicated day-long discussions on key areas of collaboration between the ASEAN and EU on three related themes; viz., economic integration and trade, climate change, environment and disaster management and culture & heritage promotion by education & youth.

A delegation from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore met Deputy Secretary General for ASEAN Economic Community Dr. Alladin Rillo and Head of the Agriculture and Forestry Division of Sectoral Development Directorate Dr. Pham Quang Minh, at the ASEAN Secretariat before the closing ceremony of the seminar. The delegation conveyed the outcomes from the meeting and requested Dr. Rillo to engage co-operatives in the ASEAN working groups dealing with financial inclusion, consumer, youth and women initiatives.

 

The seminar helped underscore the need for co-operatives to be more distinctively acknowledged in the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint as they have a potential important role in the transformation of socio-economic life of people in urban and rural communities of ASEAN countries. The EU and ASEAN governments need to take co-operatives into account by carrying out consultations with the sector when developing economic policies and regulations, creating legal frameworks and undertake administrative practices on social and economic issues. The co-operative sector deserves equal treatment with other economic sectors, in as much as co-operatives have their distinctive structure that are member-driven, hence a unique sector that is well integrated in communities and built from the ground up. In terms of next steps, the organizers will leverage the findings from the seminar for the inclusion and recognition of co-operatives in the forthcoming EU and ASEAN Roadmaps for civil society engagement in the region.