NGOs, cooperatives, enterprises and civil society: a dialogue on development cooperation

Coopermondo attended the first official event of the Italian Semester of Presidency of the European Union organized on the 15th July by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the sidelines of the informal meeting of European Ministers of Development Cooperation, a round table discussion in which different actors of international cooperation have begun an open dialogue on the role of the private sector in the processes of international development.


The provocative Stephen Sackur of the BBC hold the reins of the debate and begun asking to Andris Piebalgs, European Commissioner for development, whether we should consider a failure the non-achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. As far as the Commissioner was concerned, it was a question asked in the wrong terms: “What matters is that the trend is going in the right direction. We have changed the approach to development: we must recognize the complexity of this phenomenon that affects all countries, not just the developing world. “



Well-known economist Jeffrey Sachs stated that “the importance of the Millennium goals was to raise public awareness on those issues.” The fact that the world’s largest organizations have shared them as priorities to be pursued is of critical importance. Lapo Pistelli, Italian Deputy Minister for International Affairs, went further and stressed the importance of building a “strong narrative” in the legitimacy of cooperation policies.

On the key issues of the new agenda for the post-2015 objectives, NGOs, enterprises and institutions have  shown to be converging to the same proposals: the search for a formula of a sustainable economy that will ensure social inclusion, respect for human rights, gender equality and environmental protection. “There is no chance to continue growing if we do not find a more holistic approach to development, which includes all of these goals”, to repeat Sachs’ words.



Klaus Niederlander, Director of Cooperatives Europe, stressed the great ability of cooperatives to generate social inclusion and sustainable development: “Co-operatives are accountable to their consumers or producers and this generates great benefits. There are already many experiences of co-operative enterprises engaged in development cooperation, but they are kept untold: the time has come to enhance their model”. Niederlander also pointed out that Cooperatives Europe has created an online platform that monitors nearly 300 projects of development cooperation carried out by European cooperatives around the world (including those of Coopermondo and Confcooperative network).


Christophe Yvetot of UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization) recognized small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) as key drivers in the fight against poverty and as catalysts for creating decent work and sustainable development. For this reason “they must be placed at the top of the agenda of cooperation.”


Now it is up to each actor to work together and build the new idea of cooperation. As Deputy Minister Pistelli said to conclude: “New international cooperation should look less like a charity and more like sustainable development”.

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