ILO organizes a meeting on cooperative to cooperative trade and decent work

ILO brings together the cooperative movement and fairer and ethical trade initiatives to promote responsible production and consumption though cooperative to cooperative trade.

News | 20 June 2018
Participants at the event
On 12 June 2018, the ILO organized a meeting on “Enhancing cooperation and trade between cooperatives and other SSE organizations for decent work” in Geneva. The one-day meeting aimed at sharing good practices, challenges and opportunities on cooperative-to-cooperative (C2C) trade and exploring areas for future action and collaboration among participating organizations. The event brought together over 25 key stakeholders from the international cooperative and fair trade movements involved and interested in C2C trade. In addition to the ILO the participating organizations included the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) Regional Offices for Africa and Asia and the Pacific, Fairtrade International, World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), ANGKASA (Malaysia), Coop Denmark, Japanese Consumers’ Cooperatives Union (JCCU), iCOOP Korea and Coopermondo (Italy).

Three existing examples of C2C trade, and its implications for decent work for rural producers and workers were presented:
  • Coop Denmark’s Savannah project advancing direct trade with Kenyan coffee producer cooperatives by shortening the value chain, enhancing product quality and building export capacities for producer cooperatives in the process;
  • WFTO-related Altromercato cooperative bringing ethical and fair trade products from African, Latin American and Asian producer organizations to Italian consumers including consumer cooperatives; and
  • A Coopermondo project that supported the export of biological pineapples produced by a Togolese youth producer cooperative to Italian consumer cooperatives in partnership with Italian cooperative banks.
Challenges and opportunities to C2C and ethical trade practices were shared by three presenters:
Group discussion
In the afternoon session, the participants worked in two working groups to discuss challenges, opportunities and future action areas for collaboration around C2C trade that would allow for shorter and fairer supply chains for producers, workers and consumers. The two working groups identified the following as challenges:
  • Regulatory constraints on C2C trade due to restrictions imposed by pertinent legislation around cooperatives, trade or agriculture;
  • Limited business literacy and weak governance among some producer cooperatives;
  • Ability of producer cooperatives to fulfill quality/technical requirements of buyers
  • Lack of market facilitation services and other institutional support mechanisms; and
  • Readiness of consumer cooperatives to engage in C2C trade.
Group discussion
It was noted that producer cooperatives need to be strengthened especially on business literacy, knowledge on export markets, and production and distribution capacities to meet market requirements. As for the institutional support mechanisms, the need for information sharing and dialogue between producer and consumer cooperatives and market facilitation services such as backward value chain development were identified.
The opportunities identified by the working groups include:
  • Ongoing C2C initiatives that could be learned from, replicated and expanded upon;
  • Growing consumer awareness on environmental and social sustainability concerns in the production of goods and services, creating a market niche for value-based supply chains and trade;
  • Increasing interest from cooperative and fair trade movements and UN and other international organizations in supporting and taking part in C2C trade initiatives; and
  • Presence of tools and know-how on cooperative development and ethical and fairer supply chain practices among the key partners.
At the end of the meeting, it was agreed that an action plan is developed that includes the following elements:
  • A network is created among the participants that also brings on other organizations interested in the topic;
  • A platform for promoting C2C market linkages is developed; and
  • Meetings on cooperative trade targeted at specific products are organized.