Comparative Advantages of Agricultural Cooperatives in Sustainable Development (IFAP / IISD)

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“Neil SORENSEN (IFAP)” <Neil.SORENSEN@ifap.org>

Sustainable Development Announcement List <sd-l@lists.iisd.ca>

Comparative Advantages of Agricultural Cooperatives in Sustainable Development

Overview

Farmer cooperatives differ from other agribusinesses because they are owned and controlled by farmers, ranchers and growers, and are operated for the mutual benefit of their members. Cooperatives contribute to vibrant rural economies around the world, and they offer the best opportunity for a farmer-focused and competitive agricultural business. Through their cooperatives, farmers are able to collectively:
*    Improve their income from the marketplace
*    Strengthen their bargaining power
*    Maintain access to competitive credit and input sources
*    Compete effectively in the global economy
*    Capitalize on new marketplace opportunities, including value-added processing
*    Manage risks
*    Access technical assistance and other services

The worldwide food and financial crises pose many challenges for the agri-food sector, but ironically may result in positive developments; business actors will be forced to take more responsibility for their actions. Agri-food companies will be encouraged to find solutions to better manage their risks throughout the production chain and ensure their long-term survival. They will be encouraged to take responsible actions in their business and establish policies that ensure the balanced management of economic performance, respect for the environment and respect for society, including all internal and external stakeholders, in their processes, products and governance.

All things being equal, agricultural cooperatives have comparative advantages for Sustainable Development and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) that are inherent to their structure and functioning.

This conference will focus on strategies to position farmer cooperatives relative to SD and CSR, with the aim of realizing a common understanding of both concepts and their benefits, for industrialized and developing countries.

The conference will address the challenges of SD and CSR strategies for agricultural cooperatives, while also identifying exceptional examples throughout the world. Participants will examine approaches for setting up sustainable systems within agricultural coops, transforming risk factors into increased performance.

Looking at agricultural coops in their local and national contexts, the program will also highlight the importance of establishing strong collaborations and partnerships with local and national stakeholders, taking into account the importance of developing long-term relationships with consumers, public authorities, agri-food structures and civil society.

To ensure that these efforts are achieving environmentally, socially and economically sustainable results, the conference will look at the social footprint of their CSR strategies and explain concrete methods to coop leaders for measuring their actions.

Once CSR programs are in place, making this commitment visible both inside and outside the organization is critical to making sure these efforts achieve lasting contributions, to generate further investment and to realize the benefits from branding socially and environmentally responsible business in agriculture.

Finally, the conference will bring forward cooperative solutions for driving global economic recovery.

Register online at http://events.ifap.org

For more information, visit http://www.ifap.org or contact:

Fabienne Derrien
Senior Policy Officer
International Federation of Agricultural Producers
60, rue Saint Lazare, 75009 Paris, France
Tel: +33-1-45-26-05-53
Mobile: +33-6-15-05-29-08
Fax: +33-1-48-74-72-12
E-mail: fabienne.derrien@ifap.org

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IFAP | 60 rue St Lazare | 75009 Paris, France | +33-1 45 26 05 53 | ifap@ifap.org

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About Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.
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