Chapter XXI - International Cooperation to Accelerate Sustainable Development

   This document has been made available in electronic format
      by the International Co-operative Alliance ICA

  Contribution of Co-operative Enterprises and the International
     Co-operative Movement to Implementation of UN AGENDA 21:
       Programme of Action for Sustainable Development 

                     Prepared jointly by
             the International Co-operative Alliance
                      the United Nations
  Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development

                 Geneva and New York, April 1995

        For information purposes only. Not an official
   document of the United Nations and not officially edited.

                       CHAPTER XXI


    A significant share of international trade in primary
commodities, is undertaken through co-operative marketing systems
owned by farmers, forestry enterprises and fisheries enterprises.

Consumer-owned wholesale and retail co-operatives promote a
substantial movement of commodities, in particular from primary
producers in developing countries to urban markets in developed
countries. Co-operative manufacturing groups also contribute to
international trade: for example the Mondragon Co-operative
Corporation in Spain realises 65 per cent of its sales from
exports, and has offices in the United States, Germany, France,
Italy, the United Kingdom and Hong Kong. 226/ Much of the trade
originates in co-operatively organized systems but is destined
for non-co-operative businesses, or, conversely, originates in
non-co-operatively organized businesses and is destined for co-
operative enterprises. However, trade between co-operative
enterprises and groups is increasing, and has a significant
potential for ensuring that both in production and consumption
as well as in intermediate processes it contributes to
sustainable development.

   A specialized body of the ICA, the International Organization
for Consumer Co-operative Distributive Trade (INTER-COOP) works
to promote economic cooperation between its affiliated members
and thereby to increase the competitive power of the consumer co-
operative movement in both national and international markets. 
 It undertakes joint purchasing, organizes "export fairs" and the
exchange of experience. It operates offices in Hong Kong,
Denmark, Spain, Germany, Italy, Brazil, Argentina, the United
States and Hungary.

    Early in 1995 the ICA's regional Office for Central America
and the Caribbean launched an innovative new project designed to
promote international business with co-operative enterprises in
latin America.  The project was funded by the Swedish Co-
operative Centre and the Societe de Developpement International
Desjardins of Canada. 227/

    In 1990 the International Trade Centre, financed by the
Government of Sweden, began a campaign among European
agricultural co-operatives and farmers to use more sisal twine
for baling hay. Sisal is considered an environmentally-friendly
product of a number of developing countries. 228/

   Co-operative consumers have been shown to be willing to pay
higher prices for imported commodities in cases where they have
been produced in a sustainable manner, and particularly if
produced by co-operatives. For example, Coop Suisse retails "Max
Havelaar" coffee to over 100,000 households at higher prices than
other brands.   An estimated additional income of 3,200,000 Swiss
Francs was derived from this, and was forwarded by Coop Suisse
for use by some of the 250,000 small-scale producers in Latin
America and Africa. Coop Suisse intended to introduce other "fair
priced" products. 229/

    National consumers' co-operative movements have taken an
interest in the environmental aspects of international trade.  
The Japanese Consumers' Co-operative Union held an environmental
workshop jointly with the ICA Consumer Committee and also with
the International Organization for Consumer Co-operative
Distributive Trade (INTER-COOP) in May 1992. 230/ 

226/  ICA News, Nos. 1 and 2, 1995, p. 13.
227/  Ibid., p. 3.
228/  ICA News, No. 4, 1990, p. 6.
229/  ICA News, No. 3, 1993, p. 7.
230/  ICA News, No. 3, 1992, p. 20.