COPAC Open Forum - Report

        *******************************************
                     COPAC OPEN FORUM
          CO-OPERATIVES, FARMERS' ORGANIZATIONS 
                AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

                 Copenhagen, 7 March 1995
        ********************************************


-------------------------
Report of the Open Forum
-------------------------

     * Executive Summary
     * Report
     * List of Participants


Executive Summary
-----------------

COPAC has organized a number of meetings of this kind, and on
this occasion again fulfilled its essential role, the bringing
together of world-level representatives of co-operatives and
farmers organizations with representatives of the United nations
and its various specialized organizations.  

At the September 1994 COPAC meeting in Paris, the Committee
decided that an Open Forum should be organized in Copenhagen to
coincide with the Social Summit.  The present special event was
offered by the Summit Secretariat to the International Co-
operative Alliance, and the ICA agreed that this was the
opportunity for COPAC to organize the planned Open Forum.  The
focus is on co-operatives and farmers~ organizations:  both of
these broadly-based representational and participative
organizations are present at world level in the Committee.

In his keynote address to the Open Forum, Mr. Desai provided the
orientation for the meeting by the challenging questions he had
posed.  The real task of social development, he said, would begin
after the Summit, which might be regarded as a catalyst bringing
together various areas of development activities and concerns
previously treated as separate issues.  It was necessary to
crystallise this vision, and to ask what we would do differently. 
Mr. Desai looked forward to continuing dialogue with COPAC
members and with the participants at the Open Forum.

A basic conclusion of the Open Forum was that we were indeed
moving towards people-centred development.  This was the end of
top-down development. But if development was no longer to be top-
down, how might bottom-up development be achieved?

Many speakers referred to the problem of widespread negative
perceptions about co-operatives, based on had experiences in the
past of 'pseudo-co-operatives' promoted for the wrong reasons
from above down.

There was a dilemma with many NGOs; it was hard to say what they
represented.

The situation of agriculture was quite similar in many countries; 
there was rapid change, some constraints were disappearing, but
could co-operatives and farmers~ organizations fill the spaces
being vacated?  The meeting had heard about the difficulties of
co-operative development in Tanzania; the same was true in China,
where there was an attitude of people waiting for someone to make
decisions for them.

Mention was made of the emerging triangle of power in which
representative bodies from civil society such as co-operatives
and farmers~ organizations had an opportunity to work in new
partnerships with UN and governments.  In this connection, the
Chairman was happy tot announce that the non-governmental members
of COPAC had presented a letter to Mr. Desai in which they drew
attention to the positive experience of COPAC, and offered to
work in partnership with UN in order to bring together a group
of representational membership-based organizations not limited
to COPAC members.  It would be necessary to define the action to
be taken making sure that gender issues were answered.  In the
past, as many had testified, government interference had been a
problem.

Co-operatives and farmers~ organizations must tell governments
what was really required to make the triangle effective.  There
was a very real need to create the kinds of linkages the meeting
had been talking about. Continued dialogue was required, which
could lead to the definition of specific objectives. It was
necessary to set up the kinds of structure which could not claim
to be moving ahead if they were not.  Further meetings, with Mr.
Desai would be sought;  representative membership-based groups
who felt the same way about the need for some form of
consultative group or structure might wish to write to Mr. Desai
and Mr. Boutros Ghali. UN, as a governmental structure, might
find it difficult to move ahead unilaterally;  the initiative
must come from civil society institutions.


Report
------

The Open Forum was chaired by Dr. Chris Baker, Vice-Chairman of
COPAC, who called the meeting to order at 3 p.m. and introduced
Mr. Nitin Desai, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for
Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development.

Mr. Desai welcomed the participants and referred to the well-
known debate about development in which there was a tendency to
consider State and the market as the only two actors, forgetting
the third term in the relationship, which was civil society with
its individuals who formed voluntary organizations such as co-
operatives and farmers~ organizations representing producers and
consumers. Now there was a new environment; we were living in a
world of globalising markets.  Mr. Desai considered that the Open
Forum and similar meetings were just as important as the official
UN sessions in the Centre, because they gave voice to important
institutions of civil society such as co-operatives, trade
unions, farmers~ organizations and business associations. With
regard to co-operative enterprise, experiences varied enormously
from country to country.  In Mr. Desai~s own country, India, and
specifically Gujarat, co-operatives that had focused on widening
their members~ access to markets in the fields of supply and
marketing, electricity supply, water services, and others, had
been most successful.  

The Social Summit was a turning point in UN~s approach. 
Increasingly, services of technical assistance and aid mechanisms
must now be delivered not to governments, but to private
organizations. New avenues for international partnerships with
representative private organizations must be found.   For co-
operatives, we already had such a mechanism in COPAC, a joint
committee with more than twenty years of experience in liaison
and dialogue with UN bodies. This could serve as a model of how
official entities could make the necessary linkages to facilitate
a greater role for private organizations in social and economic
development. Mr. Desai asked the organizers and participants in
the Open Forum to provide substantive advice as part of the
implementation process for the Social Summit. There was no doubt
that co-operatives were capable of achieving some of the aims of
the Summit. Mr. Desai gave an example from his own country of how
co-operatives were able to create social cohesion. One village
had two different religious communities which used to be in
conflict. Some young people from the village set up a milk co-
operative. They agreed not to argue amongst themselves in the co-
operative, because this was business, although they might
continue arguing as before outside the co-operative.   The
experience of working in the co-operative milk business together
without arguing led them to closer acquaintance, and eventually
the religious conflict in the village was healed through this co-
operative enterprise. It was significant, too, that it was the
youngsters who brought this about. Co-operative action was an
important form of institution building which had its place in
food aid, conventional assistance and capacity building. The real
task of social development would begin after the Summit, which
might be regarded as a catalyst bringing together various areas
of development activities and concerns previously treated as
separate issues. It was necessary to crystallise this vision, and
to ask what we could do differently. Mr. Desai looked forward to
continuing dialogue with COPAC members and with the participants
at the Open Forum.

The Chairman thanked Mr. Desai for his inspiring intervention. 
He believed that the member organizations of COPAC and other
membership-based organizations could indeed provide a key to
social cohesion. Co-operatives were one of the most liberating
forces, involving people in solving their own problems.    He
hoped that the discussion would seek to answer the questions
posed by Mr. Desai. He then introduced Mr. Bruce Thordarson,
Director-General of the International Co-operative Alliance
(ICA), one of the oldest and largest private voluntary
organizations in the world. WOCCU was a member of the ICA,
together with other organizations of co-operatives of many kinds,
including agricultural, fishery, housing, consumers, health,
insurance, transport, workers~ and many other co-operatives.

The text of Mr. Thordarson~s address is found in the Annex to
this section of the report. 

Following Mr. Thordarson, Mr. Bent Claudi Lassen, President of
the Federation of Danish Co-operatives, presented the experience
of Danish co-operatives, showing their progress by means of
slides. The text of Mr. Bent Claudi Lassen~s presentation is
found in the next section of this report. (To be included in the
final version)

The Chairman then asked Mr. Eastwood to introduce the theme of
the debate. Mr. Eastwood said the Social Summit would be seeking
ways in which member countries of United Nations could realize
the possibilities of sustainable social and economic development,
both individually and together, in regional and global
collaboration. The main points of the Executive Secretary~s
intervention are found in the "Executive Summary".

Mr. Eastwood suggested that the debate might focus on answering
Mr. Desai~s challenging questions, particularly on the ways in
which the decisions of the Summit might be implemented, and also
on how better advantage might be taken in other countries of the
Danish experience in co-operatives and farmers~ organizations.

The Chairman then opened the floor to debate. Ms. Jaya
Arunachalam, President of  the Indian Co-operative Network for
Women of Madras, in Southern India, said her co-operative had
300,000 women members, including hawkers, street vendors,
plantation workers and others. Co-operatives were recommended by
the first Prime Minister of India as essential in every village. 
The problem was interference and control by government.  For
twelve years elections had been suspended, and the co-operative
was run by government officials.  Ms. Jaya Arunachalam felt that
her co-operative had difficulty in achieving recognition.  She
wished to raise up the grass roots to the global level, and to
invite them to listen to the grassroots, to experiment in their
assistance interventions, to look at possibilities of sharing.

Mr. Bent Claudi Lassen said that showing by example was the right
way, although it was very difficult to do it.  The members must
do it, there must be involvement.

Mr. Dashen from Mauritius was impressed by the Danish experience
as shown by Mr. Bent Claudi Lassen. In Mauritius consumer
cooperation was important. There was a government law and
registration. There was a problem with the craftsmen~s co-
operatives. Nowadays, craftsmen hardly earned any money, because
there were no markets, even though the work was famous. He was
interested to know whether the Danes had failed in any co-
operative endeavour, or at least, come very near to it.

Mr. Bent Claudi Lassen replied, recalling the great difficulties
at the beginning when the first co-operatives were formed, more
than 100 years ago, when they began to export butter to England.
There were transport delays and quality problems, which had to
be resolved by technical and economic means.

Mr. Myron Gawigawen of the Co-operative Foundation of the
Philippines said that the Social Summit gave us a new challenge,
a new perspective. Co-operatives were member-oriented, which
meant that they tended to look inward. The challenge was to look
outward, towards the community.  How could co-operatives be more
outwardly-oriented towards the community? He asked Mr. Bent
Claudi Lassen about Danish co-operatives~ experience with the
poor.

Mr. Lassen replied that the farmers had been poor before the co-
operatives had been formed, but that the co-operatives had helped
them increase their incomes. Mr. Thordarson referred to ICA~s
work and meetings related to the role of co-operatives in the
community as a whole. Mr. Eastwood referred to a recent COPAC
study on Special Management Opportunities for Co-operatives. 
While co-operatives did enjoy a special opportunity to establish
structures of horizontal and vertical integration within the same
type of co-operative sector (for example, agricultural co-
operatives), so much so that this cooperation amongst and between
co-operatives had been recognized by the ICA as a basic principle
to be added to the original principles of the Rochdale Pioneers,
a great weakness was 'co-operative invisibility' - the lack of
integration at national level between the different sectors of
the co-operative movement. Here was an opportunity for more
action to show the community as a whole the wide range of
possibilities of co-operatives. Reference was also made by the
other speakers to the invisibility of co-operatives, especially
when compared in their media use and messages with the large
multinationals.

Mr. Abdoul Radiaye Bah of Guinea, West Africa, said that
conditions were completely different in his country, where, after
years of socialism and official cooperativisation, the very word
'co-operative' could no longer be used. The rich were not
interest in participating in co-operatives, while the poor had
nothing.

The Chairman commented on the widespread nature of the problem
of discredited co-operatives from the previous regimes in Eastern
Europe. Co-operatives had been discredited by the establishment
of pseudo-co-operatives in the past. With regard to the poor,
experience showed that they did save, and that they were the
lowest default borrowers.

Mr. Thordarson referred to recommendations by the ICA that the
Poles should not destroy their co-operatives, but reform them so
that they could function like those of Western European countries
and North America. The Polish leaders had had great difficulty
in believing that co-operatives existed in the West.

Mr. Blight said he was Chairman of one co-operative, and a
director of another which was one of the largest in Australia. 
He noted the statement from Guinea that those who were a little
bit richer were not interested in co-operatives. He said that
there was a very serious threat from transnational and
multinational trading enterprises, and that farmers would have
to cooperate and get their marketing right in order to survive
this threat.

Ms. Brenda Wolfsson from Israel spoke of the disintegration of
the kibbutzim and the moshavim in modern conditions, when there
was insufficient income, the aging had no pension, the young were
leaving the co-operatives, and they were increasingly
substituting industrial activities for farming in an attempt to
survive economically.

Mr. Lassen said that when co-operatives tried to move into other
businesses in an attempt to survive, they usually got into
difficulties. Mr. Blight said that his happened to a lot of
businesses. Co-operatives should constantly review the aims of
their business. He had experience of a co-operative which had
maintained the same philosophy for over 25 years, and had run
into difficulties. It was necessary to focus on what your goods
were, and what your business is. With regard to the question of
how young people might be brought back to the farm, the answer
is simple:  give them more money, and you will see them coming
over the hills. If governments ignore this, they could bring
about a tragedy.

Mr. Rouse said he would be deliberately provocative. Important
issues were being discussed here, but where were all the people?
The place looked empty. Did this mean that people~s organizations
were not important?  He did not think so. It was a time of
crisis, with structural adjustment, withdrawal of the State,
problems of transitional economies. A problem of self-help was
posed; it was time for us to look at who we were and where we
were going; a time for rethinking about the relationship with
government. The message was not getting across, how could we get
the message of self-help and people~s participation across
better?

The 'invisibility' of co-operatives was again mentioned in this
connection, and it was felt that co-operatives ought to invest
more in getting their message across, especially since they had
a genuine message to convey, and non-co-operative business
invested so much in advertising.

Mr. Willibrod Slaa, Tanzania Council for Social Development, said
that while co-operatives did offer people in the developing world
a possibility of ownership, ownership could sometimes be a very
cosmetic affair. Was it really possible to exclude interference
from government?

Mr. Thordarson saw two positive signs in this respect: the first
was that one of the results of structural adjustment was that
governments were forced to withdraw, not necessarily because they
wanted to, but from lack of resources. The second was the genuine
change in attitude of institutions such as the World Bank, ILO,
FAO. The old approaches were being overtaken by these new
attitudes.

Ms. Kirjavainen referred to the gender issue in relation to co-
operatives. In Africa and the Caribbean, 40-60% of households
were headed by women. One was accustomed to hear of the
contribution of co-operatives to women, but for these areas the
question might well be put the other way round: what was the
contribution of women to co-operatives?

Mr. Yehudah Paz, International Institute of Labour Development
and Co-operative Studies, Israel, referred to the challenge of
the Summit. It was important that 120 heads of state were coming.
It was important that sustainable development and social
development were high on the agenda. But it was not the beauty
of the addresses that mattered, but what would be done after the
Summit. The speaker saw the emergence of a new force - civil
society and NGO~s.  A new triangle of power was emerging, though
it was not equilateral by any means, in which the state, the
market and civil society were the three legs. Was the
implementation of the Summit decisions to be significant in terms
of the active participation of the masses? Were mass-based
participative organizations such as co-operatives, farmers~
organizations and trade unions to be given the responsible
partnership they needed to do the job?  Were those present
willing to forge the alliances necessary? With whom? The speaker
suggested this should be with like-minded institutions who
believed in the same ideas such as sustainability, equity,
equality and gender equality, with a concern to answer basic
needs, a care for the environment, covering the rural sector as
well as the urban sector, including the informal sector, having
both local and global coverage. COPAC provided an interesting
model in this respect. And the ILO, the oldest UN body and the
only one with tripartite representation including governments,
workers and employers, offered a unique structure. We should take
up the challenge and forge such alliances;  we would find we are
not quite alone.  It was necessary to have vision in this matter,
for, as the good Book said: "Where there is no vision, the people
perish".

Mr. Blight said that while nobody could disagree with these
sentiments, one must be cautious in proposing too much in order
not to arrive at government by referendum. It was the
government~s job to govern, and while we must drive the debate,
we should be careful not to cross the line; democracy was about
where the line was drawn.

Mr. Saito of the Medical Co-op Committee of the Japanese
Consumers~ Co-operative Union spoke about the experience of the
Japanese medical co-operatives, whose members were both providers
and recipients of health services. These co-operatives set out
not only to provide curative services; they also took preventive
community measures, and had many positive experiences. Full
information about them could be found in ICA Background Note No.
6.

Mr. Nielsen, past President of the Federation of Danish Co-
operatives and Chairman of the IFAP Co-operative Committee, said
that co-operatives were very different in different countries,
even within Denmark there were differences between co-operatives.
He reminded the meeting that co-operatives were an advanced form
of enterprise in whose formation and development there were no
short cuts.  Commitment and loyalty were required of the members.

The Chairman then made a summary of  the main points in the
discussions. 

Mr. Desai had provided the orientation for the meeting by his
intervention and the challenging questions he had posed.  A basic
conclusion of the Open Forum was that we were indeed moving
towards people-centred development. This as the end of top-down
development. But if it was no longer to be top-down, how might
bottom-up development be achieved? There was a dilemma with many
NGOs; it was hard to say what they represented. The situation of
agriculture was quite similar in many countries; there was rapid
change, some constraints were disappearing, but could co-
operatives and farmers~ organizations fill the spaces being
vacated?  We had heard the difficulties of co-operative
development in Tanzania, the same was true in China, where there
was an attitude of people waiting for someone to make decisions
for them. Mention had been made of the emerging triangle of power
in which representative bodies from civil society such as co-
operatives and farmers~ organizations had an opportunity to work
in new partnerships with UN and governments.  

In this connection, the Chairman was happy to announce that the
non-governmental members of COPAC had presented a letter to Mr.
Desai in which they drew attention to the positive experience of
COPAC, and offered to work in partnership with UN in order to
bring together a group of representational membership-based
organizations not limited to COPAC members. It would be necessary
to define the action to be taken, making sure that gender issues
were answered.  In the past, as many speakers had testified,
government interference had been a problem. Co-operatives and
farmers~ organizations must tell governments what was really
required to make the triangle effective. There was a very real
need to create the kinds of linkages the meeting had been talking
about. Continued dialogue was required, which could lead to the
definition of specific objectives. It was necessary to set up the
kinds of structure which could not claim to be moving ahead if
they were not. Further meetings with Mr. Desai would be sought; 
representative membership-based groups who felt the same way
about the need for some form of consultative group or structure
might wish to write to Mr. Desai and Mr. Boutros Ghali. UN, as
a governmental structure, might find it difficult to move ahead
unilaterally; the initiative must come from civil society
institutions.

The Chairman then thanked the panel of speakers and all
participants for their interest and active involvement, and
closed the meeting at 6.15 p.m.


List of Participants
--------------------
BAHAMAS

Bahamas Hotel, Catering and Allied Workers~ Union
National Workers~ Co-operative Credit Union
Box GT 2514
Nassau
     Mr. Thomas Bastian

DENMARK

Board of the Federation of Danish Co-operatives
Vester Farimagsgade 3
DK-1606 Copenhagen V

     Mr. Niels Dyrberg
     Mr. Bent Claudi Lassen
     Mr. Niels Skadhauge
     Mr. Martin Nielsen
     Mr. Knud Harck Madsen

Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA)
Hannelyergvej 12
2960 Rimgsted

     Mr. Peder Elksaer

Economic and Political Committee of the Agricultural Council
Axeltorv 3
DK-1609 Copenhagen V

     Mr. Peder Thomsen
     Mr. Thorkild Ljrring Pedersen
     Mr. Steen Reventlow-Mourier
     Ms. Heidi Alsing
     Mr. Ole Linnet Juul
     Mr. Franz Erve
     Mr. Leif Erland Nielsen
     Mr. Michael Bjerrum
     Ms. Anne Marie Zinck
     Mr. Carsten Jensen

FDB COOP
Roskildevej 65
Dk-2620 Albertslund

     Mr. Bjarne Mgelhj
     Ms. Anne Buch Jrgensen
     Mr. Poul Dines

Co-operative Centre Denmark (CCD)
Ahlefeldtsgade 18
DK-1359 Copenhagen K

     Mr. Ole Baekgaard

Co-operative Association
Reventlowsgade 14
DK-1651 Copenhagen V

     Mr. Jens Anker Engelbrechtsen
     Mr. Jrgen Christiansen

Danish Agricultural Youth
Udkaersvej 15
Skejby
DK-8200 Aarhus N

     Mr. Peter Fallesen Ravn

Federation of Danish Co-operatives
Vester Farimagsgade 3
DK-1606 Copenhagen V

     Mr. H. Hasle Nielsen
     Mr. Lars Peter Lorenzen
     Mr. Torsten Buhl
     Mr. Henning Jensen
     Ms. Eva  Gleje
     Mr. Preben Scheel
     Mr. Svend Strmberg Nielsen

International Association of Agricultural Students
Flfodvej 224
2300 Copenhagen

     Mr. Michael Bach Fallesen


GAMBIA

The Association of Gambian Entrepreneurs
PO Box 200
Banjul

     Ms. Amira Ghanim Jagne


GHANA

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
PO Box M53
Accra

     Mr. Patrick R.D. Hayford


GUINEA

Minist
re du Plan
BP 221 Conakry

     Mr. Abdoul Radiaye Bah
     Mr. Ibrahim S. Sangare


INDIA

Indian Co-operative Network for Women
55 Bhima Sena Garden Road
Madras 60004

     Ms. Jaya Arunachalam


INDONESIA

Asian Women in Co-operatives Forum
Jln. Jati Padang 43C, Pasak Minggu
Jakarta Selatan 12540

     Ms. Lota Bertulfo


JAPAN

Medical Co-op Committee of the Japanese Consumers~ Co-operative
Union
4-1-13 Sendagaya, Shibuya-ku
Tokyo

     Mr. Tadashi Saito
     Mr. Takashi Yoshioka
     Mr. Shuitsu Hino
     Mr. Ryozo Malsuda


PHILIPPINES

Co-operative Foundation Philippines, Inc. (CFPI)
No. 3 Maunawain St., Pinyahan, Central District
Quezon City

     Mr. Myron A. Gawigawen

National Network of Homeworkers
Patamaba Credit Co-operatives
No. 44 Baleng St.
Veterans Village, Project 7
Quezon City

     Ms. Evelyn C. Cruz


SAMOA

OLE Siosiomaga Society, Inc.
PO Box 5774
Matautu-Uta, Apia

     Mr. Koroseta Iona To~o


SEYCHELLES

Ministry of Development and Social Affairs
PO Box 190
Victoria

     Mr. Michel Rosalie


SIERRA LEONE

Department of Development and Economic Planning
Youyi Building, Brookfields, Freetown

     Ms. Mariama M. Diarra

GOSL/Rural and Development Council (RADCO)
c/o State House, Tower Hill
Freetown

     Ms. Veronica Rogers


SPAIN

Union de Cooperativas Madrilenas de Trabajo Asociado
c/ Valuerde 13
28004 Madrid

     Mr. Ruben Villa Benayas


TANZANIA

Tanzania Council for Social Development
PO Box 40625
Dar-es-Salaam

     Mr. Slaa Willibrod


TUNISIA

Union Tunisienne de l~Agriculture et de la Pche (UTAP)
Rue Alain Savary 1003
Cit El Khadra, Tunis

     Mr. Ezzedine Ben Mustapha


USA

Co-operative Housing Foundation (CHF)
8300 Colesville Rd.
Silverspring, Maryland 20910

     Mr. Michael E. Doyle


OTHER PARTICIPANTS

Mr. Hans Meliczek
Via Fiume Bianco, 47
00144 Rome, Italy


MEMBER ORGANIZATIONS OF COPAC

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Via delle Terme di Caracalla
00100 Rome, ITALY

-    Ms. Leena M. Kirjavainen
-    Mr. John Rouse

International Co-operative Alliance (ICA)
15 Route des Morillons
CH-1218 Grand Saconnex
Geneva, SWITZERLAND

-    Mr. Bruce Thordarson
-    Ms. Maria-Elena Chavez
-    Mr. Yehudah Paz

International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP)
21 rue Chaptal
75009 Paris, FRANCE

-    Mr. Graham Blight
-    Mr. David King
-    Mr. Rashid Pertev

International Labour Organization (ILO)
CH-1211 Geneva 22, SWITZERLAND

-    Mr. Joseph Fazzio

United Nations (UN)

-    Mr. Michael Stubbs

World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU)
PO Box 2982
Madison, Wisconsin 53701, USA

-    Mr. Christopher E. Baker

COPAC Secretariat
Via delle Terme di Caracalla
00100 Rome, ITALY

-    Mr. Tristram Eastwood
-    Ms. Vittoria Zaffarano