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In March 2016, the ICA and the European Union signed a Framework Partnership Agreement (Europe Aid/150-053/C/ACT/Multi) to implement a multi-year and multi-country development programme aimed at benefitting and advancing co-operatives worldwide. The Partnership is officially titled "Co-operatives in Development: People Centred Businesses in Action", translated into the social media hashtag #Coops4Dev (cooperatives for development). The Partnership has 8 Result Areas and 33 Activity Streams for delivery by 5 units, one housed in each regional office and one at the coordination level in Brussels. The AP unit  has identified three strategic development priorities namely, participation of Co-operatives in Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Youth Inclusion in Co-operatives, and Exploring Work and Ownership Structures in Co-operatives. The ICA-AP implements the programme in collaboration with Alliance members and in partnerships with other stakeholders such as governments, international development agencies, private sector and NGOs in the region. You may read more about the Partnership here.

 

Global meeting of the Policy Forum on Development 

 

The 6th Policy Forum on Development (PFD) meeting took place in Brussels from March 20-22, 2018.  The PFD brings together representatives from networks of civil society organizations (CSOs), associations of local authorities (LAs), private sector as well as European Union (EU) and Member States representatives. Mr. Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, European Commission in his welcome address stressed on the PFD’s unique opportunity to exchange knowledge, experience and resources between the European Union, its Member States, civil society organizations, local authorities and the private sector.  Without such dialogue, none of the Sustainable Development Goals can be within reach. He said that the “EU was committed to strengthen these partnerships to deliver concrete results for the most vulnerable people across the world." The opening was followed by a session/panel discussion on enabling environment.

 

The second day was on trade with a focus on the European plan and domestic resource mobilisation followed by group work. On the last day, the Forum discussed issues around the security and development nexus, and had a dedicated session on the next multi-annual financial framework.

 

Ms. Savitri Singh, Program Director attended and represented ICA-AP at the meeting. She made a five minute intervention during the session on enabling environment: How to confront new challenges: employing the multi-stakeholder approach to enhance the enabling environment for inclusive development cooperation. In her intervention she acknowledged and appreciated the points made by the panellists and said that, “The 2030 Agenda and the new European Consensus on Development recognises civil society and local authorities as key partners in achieving the  SDGs. The EU has recognised co-operatives as civil society organizations and entered into a partnership agreement: 2016-2020 on “Co-operatives in Development: People Centered Businesses in Action.” This is a historic step towards creating an enabling environment for co-operatives worldwide and specially in Asia-Pacific region. Ms. Rosário Bento Pais, Head of Unit, Civil Society, Foundations, Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development, European Commission and one of the panellists, in her response to the intervention observed that the Commission fully acknowledges co-operatives as development actors and supports them globally. As for the lack of initiatives for active engagement at the country and local level, the EU is aware about this and efforts are being made to improve communication and engagement.

 

             Ms. Singh during her presentation at the PFD.

 

The group work was held with an objective to allow smaller groups to debate on the three topics of the day, namely aid for trade, blending/European Investment Plan and Domestic Resource Mobilisation, their regional challenges and recommendations. Ms. Singh was assigned to help in proceedings and be the rapporteur  of the Working Groups: Trade for all. The objective of the working groups is to have both a more in-depth debate and a constructive dialogue about themes that have been discussed during the day and are highly relevant for the development agenda. She presented the outcome of the group work at the plenary. 

 

Revisiting Year 2 of the ICA-EU Partnership in the AP Region

 

We bring you a summary of the activities under the #Coops4Dev program during project year 2 (1 March 2017-28 February 2018]. In Year 2, the AP unit worked with 50 of its current 99 member organizations and witnessed considerable growth in its capacities and programming. It opened dialogues and conversations around its strategic priorities, and it expanded its outreach (table below). 

 

Institutional Strengthening

 

 

The AP unit recruited a Research Officer and a Communications Officer to complement the team which includes  the Program Manager, Policy Officer and Finance Officer. The Unit organized the first if its kind live lecture series titled Coop Mic, inspired by Open Mics, to create a space for co-operative thought and action. Delivered by co-operative experts, CSO activists and friends of the co-operative movement, Coop Mic met with significant success and helped over 10,000 persons around the world with fresh content on important topics like co-operative principles, youth and SDGs, and crowd-funding projects. The video produced for the 1st Coop Mic can be found here.  The Unit also started a series of Twitter chats with officials from co-operative apex organizations and international development agencies to create a space for open and frank discussions on topics like leadership, human resource development etc. In terms of institutional strengthening, the Partnership also creates the opportunity for training and capacity building of staff and members to help better the coordination and  implementation of the program.

 

Enabling Environment

 

As one of the key and largely harmonized (among regional units) work stream, enabling environment focuses on research based initiatives such as  mapping of co-operative actors, analysis of legal frames for co-operatives, youth &  co-operatives  and, exploring work & ownership in co-operatives (AP Decentralized Research). The research officers, in collaboration with EURICSE agreed on the methodologies, decided on experts to be engaged, and  finalized agreements with partners (CICOPA and ALC India). The decentralized research on ‘work & ownership structures in co-operatives’, will look at the status of industrial and service co-operatives in Asia Pacific, the scope and challenges faced and offer recommendations to aid the creation of an enabling environment for the proliferation of industrial and service co-operatives to mitigate employment and decent work challenges in the region.

 

Capacity Building

           

In year 2, the AP unit carried out 5 capacity building seminars (CBS)  to build the capacities of member organizations, also create space for members to interact with CSO movements and the government to further the movement. 

 

The first CBS to strengthen co-operative federations in Central Asia was organized in association with the Co-operative Union of Kyrgyzstan(CUK) in June 2017. An outcome of this exercise was the successful application of CUK to the ICA membership. The ICA-AP is currently working with the CUK on analysing the Kyrgyz Co-operative Law and offering recommendations. The second CBS focussed on the fourth principle of co-operatives - Autonomy & Independence of Co-operatives, was organized in collaboration with the ALC India, in Hyderabad in September 2017. The aim of the seminar was to open a dialogue among stakeholders on the practice of fourth principle by co-operatives in South Asia and  to add value to the decentralized research on work & ownership. The adoption of the ILO Recommendation 193 on Promoting Co-operative Enterprises, the UN proclamation of year 2012 as the International Year of Co-operatives, and substantive changes in co-operative legislation in several countries are creating space for autonomy & independence in co-operative governance and entrepreneurship.  The third CBS on advocacy towards the European Union delegations (EUD) was organized in collaboration with the National Co-operative Union of India and the Forum for International Development and Partnership (FINEP) in October 2017 in New Delhi, India. The participants from the ICA member organizations were trained on the workings of EU Institutions, locating call for proposals, proposal writing etc. The CBS was useful in acquainting co-operative federations with the EU  projects, and is expected to help them engage  with EUDs in their respective countries. The fourth CBS targeted young persons and was designed around the University/Campus Co-operative mode. It was organized in collaboration with Angkasa Malaysia, during the ICA Global Conference in November 2017, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The seminar saw the participation of more than 100 persons including students from Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, and South Korea and members of the academia from Asia Pacific and beyond.  Important developments in the Asia Pacific campus co-operative movement like favourable policies for the development of  school co-operatives in Malaysia and Philippines, and active involvement of national apex organizations in youth co-operatives in Singapore and Indonesia had prompted the AP unit to organize the seminar during the ICA Conference, with the aim to open space for the proliferation of campus co-operative model in South Asia.  The fifth CBS in the context of  SDG 5 – achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls was organized in partnership with the Nepal Co-operative Federation in Kathmandu in December 2017. The objective of this seminar was to acquaint co-operators on SDG5, develop targets relevant to co-operatives and evolve ways monitor and evaluate the contributions of co-operatives.

 

Capacity building seminars on various thematic areas in Year 2.

 

 

 Co-operative Networking

 

The Partnership creates a mandate for all regional units to create a network of co-operative actors (and relevant stakeholders) on the platform of international (co-operative) development. The AP unit carried out sub-regional co-operative network meetings in Jordan in February 2017 with support from the Economic and Social Development Center, Palestine; for ASEAN countries in Manila in September 2017 in collaboration with the Philippines Co-operative Center; and for East Asia, in Ulan Bator in collaboration with the National Association of Mongolian Agricultural Co-operatives in October 2017. The sub-regional meetings were designed to bring co-operative actors together on the topic of SGDs through four streams - Inform (build the knowledge and information quotient of co-operatives on the SDGs), Engage (analyse the work done by co-operatives that address SDGs, directly or indirectly), Build (capacitates participants on monitoring, evaluating and reporting on co-operative contributions to the SDGs at high-level points like the VNR), and Commit (pledge for joint action towards co-operative development).

 

East Asia Cooperative Development Meeting, Ulan Bator, Mongolia

 

 

 Advocacy & Political Dialogue

 

One of the main achievements of the AP unit for Year 2 was to bring together participants of the sub-regional development meeting to the 1st Asia Pacific Co-operative Development Conference (APCDC) in February in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The event was attended by over 100 participants from the multi-stakeholder pool of co-operative organizations, governments, CSOs and international development agencies. The APCDC was designed around the  three strategic development priorities of the ICA-AP. The panel sessions were around the four areas identified by the Co-operatives For 2030 Platform and witnessed experts deliver thematic presentations and offer strategy to co-operatives to help achieve the SDGs. The Conference was inaugurated by Mr. Abdu Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister for Industry and Trade (in charge of co-operatives), Sri Lanka and in attendance were Mr. Daniar Imanaliev, Minister of Economy of  Kyrgyz Republic (in charge of co-operatives) and several high ranking officials and leaders.

 

The AP unit also engaged in bilateral meetings with EUDs in India (& Bhutan), Jordan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Nepal, the Philippines,  Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam. The meetings were to introduce ICA members in the country to the EUDs and to familiarize the EUDs to the Partnership activities.

 

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Please use #Coops4Dev on social media to get latest updates from all units. A video explaining the hashtag and the program can be viewed here.

 

Annual Review meeting of the ICA-EU Partnership: looking back and planning for Year 3

 

Mr. Marc Noel from the ICA-EU Coordination Unit speaking on Day 1.

 

The ICA-EU Partnership teams from the four regional offices (Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe and Latin America) met in New Delhi from March 12 to 15, 2018 to evaluate Year 2 of the Partnership and plan for Year 3. The review was facilitated by Mr. Ralph Griese (FINEP) and was a combination of individual and team exercises to cull out our learnings and tackle challenges from the year gone by. The best practices from each region was shared and this gave everyone a chance to plan replication of some across regions as well. Coop Mic from ICA-AP is an example of a well appreciated practice during the review. The last day of the review concluded with trainings received by the different work streams, and feedback on the methodology adapted to conduct the review.