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Great discussion of cooperatives in the Americas with almost 100 cooperatives online.

6 May 2020

Connected with Ariel Guarco, President of the International Cooperative Alliance and Graciela Fernández President of Cooperatives of the Americas

The Conversation, held through the GoToMeeting platform, was organized by Cooperatives of the Americas and had the participation of almost 100 cooperatives from the continent, with an important participation from countries such as Argentina, Mexico and Colombia, which had about 10 attendees.

The moderation was in charge of the Regional Director of Cooperatives of the Americas, Danilo Salerno.The president of the continental union of the Americas, in her initial speech, expressed concern about the possibility that the pandemic and isolation may exacerbate the inequality derived from artificial intelligence and access to digital transformation tools, which are so essential now, and He stated that it is necessary for cooperativism and the solidarity economy to rethink themselves to contribute to the containment of this inequality and to lessen the impact on employment. "We do not know what the effects of the pandemic will be, nor what will be the day after the pandemic, nor what the consequences will be for employment and economic activities," said the leader. And he added: "Cooperativism is the tool to continue preserving decent work."

He also pointed out that there is a wide range of possibilities to face the situation and provide quick responses to this crisis, but emphasized that the commitment of cooperatives at this juncture must be to combat the expansion of inequality. "I believe that the world that we propose is the world that will have a place after this destruction," he said.

Cooperativism has to respond quickly

For his part, the president of the International Cooperative Alliance, Ariel Guarco, said that this pandemic should serve to rethink the world a little, to decrease the speed with which people live and to think about future strategies that will make the world more sustainable. “This pandemic is clearly revealing the great weaknesses of societies, states and health systems; the lack of institutional and global response capacity that has increased the health risks derived from human activity, ” he said.

Guarco said that the fragility of cooperation institutions, recorded as a finding of the V Regional Summit, is now being seen in times of pandemic and that it is urgent to overcome it, not only in the face of the challenges of this pandemic but also in the face of the greatest challenge that must be face humanity in centuries: global warming. "We must have clear and quick responses to the role that cooperativism will play in this crisis, we must demonstrate greater strengthening and greater commitment to regional cooperation organizations," he said.

Brazil and Colombia with leverage initiatives to support family and community agriculture up to the political impact of the Americas.

During the discussion, the Territorial Development Policy Officer of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Luiz Carlos Beduschi, was present, who highlighted "This crisis is the worst from an economic point of view for 90 years, It has exposed the difficulties that farmers and health professionals are going through. However, cooperatives have reinvented themselves with the crisis, since FAO we celebrate cooperative efforts in this crisis, we have seen cooperatives doing online business on platforms as well as cooperatives grouping together for strong vulnerable populations. ”

Likewise, the Secretary of Family Agriculture and Cooperativism of Brazil, Fernando Schwanke highlighted some measures that are being carried out so that the agricultural sector remains active and highlighted the role of the Ministry of Agriculture, which has demonstrated to work hand in hand with the OCB System. "We are working on agricultural policy to have an emergency line to extend a line of credit to producers, as well as a set of actions focused on the small producer, to try to minimize the effects. The crisis is very serious, but the government is aware of creating social protection for those who need it most and cooperatives are also in our focus, ”explained the Secretary.

Carlos Acero, president of Confecoop Colombia, proposed making a joint statement, addressed to the presidents of the American countries, proposing that cooperativism is an alternative force that will allow to recover work and reorient the economy based on values such as decent work , ethical finance and responsible consumption, a proposal that was endorsed by various leaders and by ACI Americas President Graciela Fernández.

The Director of Communications of Ascoop, Fernando Chaves Valbuena, from Colombia supported the proposal of Confecoop and said that at this juncture there is the opportunity and the need to give flight to the Communications Network of Cooperatives of the Americas, which has been trying since 2012 and that now it has an institutional backing and a historical role. In addition, via chat, he pointed out the importance of facing cooperatives in the Americas in the face of the crisis, other possibilities than savings and credit, starting with social cooperatives that provide care to the most vulnerable populations affected by the crisis.

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