ICA president: Look to cooperative enterprise to eliminate food insecurity

Nearly 1 billion people in low-income and developing countries face daunting challenges to feeding themselves and their families. Consequently, about 6 million children die of hunger each year.

From their inception in the mid-1800s, cooperatives have focused on eliminating food insecurity — first in urban England and now in urban and rural areas throughout the world.

Pauline Green Dame Pauline Green

On May 2, Dame Pauline Green, president of the International Co-operative Alliance, addressed the impact of cooperative development on alleviating hunger at the Cooperative Issues Forum at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The 2012 Forum was co-sponsored by the Cooperative Development Foundation and the U.S. Overseas Cooperative Development Council.

In her remarks, Dame Green urged the G-8 to address food security and argue that developing cooperatives in these nations will provide a sustainable solution for hunger issues.

“Food security is an aspect of sustainable development that leads to greater national security,” Green said. “Cooperatives are values-based businesses that offer a sustainable solution to many of the world’s most pressing needs, from food security to gender equality. The United Nations designated 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives, demonstrating its recognition of the power of this business model to do good in the world. The G-8 also must recognize the contribution cooperatives can make to addressing social and economic issues.”

Green’s words are supported by many others, including José Graziano da Silva, director general of the United Nations Foreign Agricultural Organization, who said, “FAO needs strong cooperatives and producer organizations as key partners in the effort to eliminate hunger.”

Today, cooperatives have over 1 billion members worldwide and employ more than 100 million people. The top 300 cooperatives in the world have a combined worth of $1.6 trillion, equivalent to the ninth largest economy. Green and the International Co-operative Alliance believe “cooperatives could be the fastest-growing enterprises by the end of this decade.”