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The ICA-AP Forum on Development of Co-operatives in the Pacific Islands [The Pacific Forum] is being organized on July 5 & 6, 2018 at Hotel Holiday Inn, Port Vila, Republic of Vanuatu. The Forum is an opportunity to meet and exchange ideas and knowledge on development of co-operatives and to integrate co-operatives and representative organizations in the Pacific region. The Forum will also mark the 2018 International Day of Co-operatives (#CoopsDay2018) on July 7, 2018 with local co-operators in Vanuatu. Sustainable societies through cooperation is the ICA slogan for #CoopsDay2018 and will complement the exposition of products produced by co-operatives in Vanuatu. The Forum is being organized in partnership with Alliance member Office of the Registrar of Co-operatives and Business Development Services (ORCBDS), Government of the Republic of Vanuatu, and the ICA-EU Partnership on Co-operatives in Development: People Centered Businesses in Action.

 

Why a Forum for development of co-operatives?

 

The ICA has a strong network of co-operatives across the globe and continues to grow its network of co-operatives and government departments in charge of co-operatives. These actors play a crucial role in local co-operative development through member services, technical assistance, research & support on data, political representation and advocacy work. While several movements in the Asia Pacific region have had a long history of strong institutions and federations, a few other countries particularly in sub-regional groupings like Central Asia, Pacific Islands and to an extent Middle East, are faced with diverse challenges for varied reasons, in the development of co-operatives and co-operative institutions.

 

The Forum is to mark the development intervention of ICA-AP, in form of an exploratory & engagement mission for development of co-operatives and co-operative institutions (ORCs, federations, universities etc.) in the Pacific Islands states. The Pacific Forum will employ a two-pronged approach namely INFORM and BUILD aimed to enhance knowledge sharing & regional integration among co-operative movements in the Pacific, and to concur on steps needed to enhance the technical, institutional and advocacy capacity of organizations representing Pacific co-operatives. In 2017, the ICA-AP organized a similar Forum in Central Asia at Bishkek & marked the #CoopsDay2017 at Issyk Kul Organic Co-operatives, Kyrgyz Republic. The intervention witnessed the participation of development stakeholders from Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Switzerland, Afghanistan and India, and with the successful application of the Co-operative Union of Kyrgyzstan as a member of the ICA in 2018, and with follow up seminar and advocacy slated for September 2018.

 

The Pacific Forum is structured into thematic sessions, group discussions and key speeches. The first session is dedicated to understanding the status of co-operatives in the Pacific in terms of opportunities, issues & challenges, followed by a group session on synthesizing the main needs and challenges for development of co-operatives in the region. This will be followed by a detailed orientation by co-operative leaders from the ICA umbrella in order to share and present a strategic direction for the region in business development and awareness on co-operatives. The space for development cooperation is helmed in many cases by international development agencies and to recognize this important role and potential partnerships, agencies like ILO, UNDP and the PIANGO are provided a  session to highlight successful interventions in support of community owned and managed businesses in the Pacific. The Forum will also dedicate time to discuss the roles of federations and representative bodies (like the ORCBDS) in co-operatives’ response to the SDGs. Four Key development areas identified by ICA's Coopsfor2030 Campaign (No Poverty, Gender Equality, Access to Basic Goods & Services and Protecting the Environment) will be subject matters for knowledge exchange among participants.