Re-thinking international development cooperation: which role for cooperatives

The Italian NGO COSPE and CICOPA Mercosur presented the main outputs of the Red del Sur (The Southern Network, in Spanish), aiming to promote worker cooperatives and strengthen networks of social economy enterprises in the MERCOSUR region, in Brussels on the 10th June. At the occasion of this conference, co-organised by CICOPA and COSPE, participants have stressed the importance of re-thinking international cooperation tools. The objective is to promote the cooperative business model as a driving force for social and economic development and territorial cohesion, through the creation and maintenance of jobs and the provision of community services.

17 June 2013

The central role played by cooperative enterprises in development has been underlined by several points of view. According to COSPE (“Co-operation for the Development of Emerging Countries”), which this year celebrates its 30th anniversary, the Social Economy enterprises represent 10% of all European businesses with about 2 million enterprises employing 6% of total employment. José Orbacieta, President of Fecootra (the Federation of Worker Cooperatives in Argentina) said that “solidarity and cooperation are the basis of the cooperative movement” and these principles are fundamental to ensure a sustainable creation of wealth.

According to Arildo Mota, President of CICOPA Americas, the Latin American countries may be a reference model for European countries now in crisis, as they have experienced similar crises in the 80s, 90s and early 2000s. “We learned a lot from Europe, especially from the Italian cooperative movement. Now we have to try to work the other way round”.

The role of cooperatives was also recognized by representatives of DG Development and Cooperation, European Commission: Jean-Paul Joulia, Head of Unit Regional Programmes Latin America and Caribbean, underlined the strong interest to work with cooperatives to foster development in Latin America and Célestin Murengezi, from the Unit Civil society and local authorities, stated that cooperatives are “key-examples of inclusive growth”.

Red del Sur has contributed to the creation of CICOPA Mercosur in 2011 as a sub-regional organisa-tion of CICOPA.

You can read the last bulletin of Red del Sur here (in Spanish):

International Organisation of Industrial, Artisanal and
Service Producers' Cooperatives

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E-mail: cicopa[at]

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