ILO participates and presents its approach to advancing cooperative engagement in supply chains in an ICETT online seminar

The online seminar on the role of cooperatives in repairing and restructuring global value chains took place on December 13th with the participation of the ILO, ITC and cooperative representatives from around the world.

News | 20 December 2022
To mark the UN International Human Rights Day, the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) International Cooperative Entrepreneurship Think Tank (ICETT) organized an online seminar to evaluate the role that cooperatives can play in creating ethical and sustainable value chains in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and other ongoing crises.

The event focused on demonstrating how cooperatives can contribute towards repairing and restructuring global value chains to achieve economic, social, and environmental objectives. The Chair for the online seminar was Mr Hans Groeneveld, the Director of International Cooperative Affairs at Rabobank, in the Netherlands. Mr Edgar Aguilar, Technical Officer in the ILO’s Regional Office for Africa provided an overview of global supply chain disruptions. He highlighted key lessons from the experience of the ILO’s ACCEL project, funded by the government of the Netherlands (2019-2023) in eliminating child labour in Africa, through targeted actions in six countries (Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Malawi and Nigeria) and five supply chains (cocoa, coffee, cotton, gold mining and tea).

He elaborated on how cooperatives can be instrumental in eliminating child labour by improving livelihoods and working conditions of members and their communities. He noted the key steps to the ILO approach in the ACCEL project in delivering on these goals through cooperatives. These include establishing partnerships with new actors or providers that can help cooperatives adapt and offer services to their members’ living conditions. The project helps improve management and governance of existing cooperatives in these countries and supply chains. It follows up by orienting the cooperative leaders and members in the need for the elimination of child labour. The project uses child labour as an entry point to address other decent work deficits and human rights violations in the supply chains through the cooperatives. As a final step, the cooperatives that are partners to the project receive additional coaching and mentoring to implement the learning from the first and second steps.

Examples of cooperative engagement in supply chains was provided by speakers from the cooperative movement. Ms Marjaana Saarikoski, Director Cooperative Affairs and Partnerships, S Group, Finland pointed out how the S Group has set a goal of 80 per cent of food sold in their stores to be produced in Finland. Mr Todor Ivanov, Secretary General Euro Coop and Consumer Cooperatives Worldwide (CCW) noted that the Central England Co-operative in the UK, launched a cooperative international trading development fund to support cooperatives in Malawi selling 13 products from there in its stores. Mr Jongseok Lee, Team Head of the International Cooperation Office at the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation Korea (NACF), pointed out to the supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19 lockdowns and border closures, and climate change and more frequent natural disasters. Mr Owen Skae, Agribusiness Senior Expert, Alliances for Action, International Trade Centre (ITC) noted that in Ghana cooperatives were able to adapt to recent supply chain challenges by diversifying crops to be less reliant on imported fertilisers.

A recording of the seminar is available here.

The presentations of the speakers are available here.