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Notes from the ICA Cooperative Conference in Milan
The ICA conference about cooperatives was held in Milan, Italy on 12-14 July. In accordance with the topic of the EXPO Milan 2015, the theme for the conference was ‘Co-operatives: Empowering people for sustainable development and zero hunger’. The conference showcased the significant roles played by cooperative enterprises all across the globe in the context of the current food-relevant issues: ending poverty and hunger, improving social protection, sharing good practices in agriculture, and more.
Mr. Kang, the secondee to the International Cooperative Alliance from the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation of Korea (NACF), joined as one of the panelists at the round-table session concerning food value chain. He shared with the audience the current food value chain initiatives being implemented by the NACF.
In his speech, he placed significance on an enabling environment. We observe that some cooperatives remain vulnerable not due to bad management but rather due to the unfavorable legal framework of the nation. In fact, legal framework is one of the pillars of the Blueprint for a Cooperative Decade of the Alliance. In addition, the importance of having an extensive network was noted as a nation-wide network enables the reaching of farmers and helps them gain a high market share, especially at production sites. He wrapped up his time by reiterating the importance of cooperation – between cooperatives and between individual members alike – as this collective action has been vital to the success of this value chain practice.
The conference was co-hosted by the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Confcooperative (Italy), JA-Zenchu (Japan), Consumer Co-operatives Worldwide (CCW) and the International Co-operative Agricultural Organisation (ICAO). It ended with a ceremony wherein the cooperative leaders and commissioner of the Milan Expo signed the Milan Charter, a manifesto dedicated to the fight against undernourishment, malnutrition and waste, while promoting equal access to natural resources and a sustainable management of production.