The sub-regional co-operative development meeting to ‘Enhance Co-operative Linkages’, was organized in the Dead Sea region of Jordan on 7 and 8 February 2017 as part of the ICA-EU Partnership on ‘Co-operatives in Development – People Centred Businesses in Action.’ The meeting was organized in collaboration with Alliance member – Economic and Social Development Center (ESDC) of Palestine and the Jordan Co-operative Corporation (JCC), the national umbrella organization for co-operatives in Jordan. The meeting was attended by the Saudi Arabia Co-operative Societies Council, ILO representatives from Jerusalem and Amman, We Effect and Oxfam GB from Palestine and government representatives from the Ministry of Economy (UAE) and the Ministry of Labor (Palestine). The aim of the meeting was to explore a co-operative development platform on the lines of the Cooperatives Europe Development Platform in the Asia Pacific region. The objectives of the meeting were to explore potential synergies in development cooperation and build relationships with civil society actors while instituting mechanisms to understand priorities, monitoring co-operative policies and finding opportunities for international co-operative trade.
The meeting was organized under the patronage of His Excellency Mr. Khaled Hunifat, Minister of Agriculture, the Hashemite Republic of Jordan. Mr. Khaled Al Jama’ani, General Manager, JCC, Mr. Akram Al Taher, ESDC General Director and Mr. Balu Iyer Regional Director – ICA Asia and Pacific, addressed the meeting in the opening ceremony. The meeting was split into four sessions a) An overview of the co-operative movement in the sub region along with the work of the ICA in the Asia and Pacific; b) Sub regional platform for co-operatives in which invited co-operatives shared information about the status of co-operatives in their countries; c) Government dialogue where government representatives shared the latest from co-operatives in their countries; and d) Presentation from international agencies - ILO Amman, We Effect – Palestine and Oxfam GB (Palestine). The international development agencies shed light on their plans to achieve the SDGs, market development and access to Syrian refugees to labor market through co-operatives. The presentations were followed two working groups, one on networking & social programs by co-operatives and the other on trade linkages and mechanism to monitor co-operative policies. The key points raised and discussed in the working groups were:
1. Need to map community needs
2. Regional uniform co-operative law and Implementation of feasible taxation system for coops
3. Address the need for access to finance and loans for co-operatives
4. Promote voluntary work to provide decent work and support needs of the community.
5. Research on co-operatives and market opportunities; niche markets need to be identified
6. Enhance strong relationship with the ICA
On day two, the participants visited the MRS consumer cooperative society and the Iraq AL Amir Women Co-operative Society in Wadi EL-Seer near Amman, Jordan.