The Co-operative has a history of campaigning on issues that matter to our members and customers – from trade justice to human rights to climate change. As a co-operative, we are able to involve our members in a way that most of our competitors can’t, advocating for change and raising awareness of development issues via campaigns and outreach. Over the years we’ve helped tackle various challenging issues, ranging from debt relief to trade justice, and from human rights to climate justice.
Our campaigning partnership alongside Oxfam, calls for increased international investment to help smallholder farmers and co-operatives feed the world fairly and sustainably.
Around 500 million smallholder farmers in developing countries feed and support nearly a third of humanity. However, one in seven people currently goes to bed hungry every night and the global population is expected to increase by another 2 billion people by 2050.
We believe that with the right tools, training and investment, smallholder farmers like Betty (pictured above) offer an excellent route to help feed the world’s growing population fairly and sustainably. If supported to form co-operatives, this enables smallholder farmers to pool resources, realise economies of scale, boost productivity and secure fairer prices.
Throughout 2012 and 2013, we are working with our members and Oxfam supporters to call on the UK Government to champion the importance of increasing global food production in a sustainable and equitable way and recognise the crucial role that smallholder farmers and co-operatives can play. We ask that the UK promotes increased investment in sustainable smallholder agriculture in order to guarantee livelihoods for the poorest farmers, especially women.
From 20-22 June 2012, Rio+20 – the UN Conference on Sustainable Development – took place. We saw this as a major opportunity to get smallholder farmers and co-operatives firmly on the international agenda and called on the UK Government to champion smallholder farmers and co-operatives at the conference.
Almost 18,000 Co-operative members and Oxfam supporters added their support to our Rio+20 ask! However, our campaign does not end there. We are now calling on the UK Government to unlock support for smallholder farmers and co-operatives to help them feed the world fairly and sustainably. Read more about our campaign.
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International Year of Co-operatives
2012 was the International Year of Co-operatives (IYC), and international organisations announced their support of co-operatives, for example, the United Nations, International Labour Organisation and European Union all recognised that co-operatives offer one of the only forms of organisation that meets all elements of poverty alleviation. Similarly, the importance of agricultural co-operatives was highlighted at the IYC launch, where the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme all pledged to recognise and do more to enhance the contribution that agricultural co-operatives can make towards food security and poverty reduction.
Our Grow Co-operatives campaign featured within a number of actions taken by The Co-operative during the International Year of Co-operatives.
- Messages on the importance of smallholder farmers and co-operatives are included in the ‘1.4 Billion Reasons’ presentations given by Global Poverty Ambassadors across the UK. On this, The Co-operative is working in partnership with The Global Poverty Project to identify, train and mobilise ambassadors, who are delivering presentations in their local communities to spread the message of co-operatives and their key role in tackling global poverty. The presentations include actions that people can take to support the Grow Co-operatives campaign.
- Grow Co-operatives was profiled at the Co-operatives United expo in October 2012. As part of this event, 25 smallholder farmers from co-operatives in our Fairtrade supply chain convened to share their experiences with the public and each other.
- Our Co-operative Street Gallery, which is currently touring the UK, promoted the Grow Co-operative campaign.
We have campaigned for an end to land mines, raised awareness of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and mobilised 2,500 Co-operative members to join The Wave, a march calling on world leaders to agree a safe and fair climate change deal to protect people in the developing world. Our trade justice campaign with Christian Aid resulted in the largest mass lobby of Parliament ever seen.
Over ten years ago, we campaigned with our members for the cancellation of Third World debt and helped make significant progress. But with 95% of remaining Third World debt to the UK owed to the Government’s Export Credit Guarantee Department (ECGD), we have more recently called for reform of the ECGD within our Unfinished Business campaign, alongside Jubilee Debt Campaign. Through this, over 30,000 of our members asked us to contact their MP on their behalf asking them to sign Early Day Motion 622, which calls for reform of the ECGD.
We’ve also campaigned on the issue of vulture funds, and their impact on damaging debt relief efforts, and supported the idea that Scotland could act as a centre for international debt arbitration. We continue to support Jubilee Scotland’s work in this area.