Cooperatives Europe at the European Development Days 2019: “Addressing inequalities through people-centred businesses.”



On 18th and 19th of June, Cooperatives Europe participated in the European Development Days at Tour & Taxis, in Brussels. This major gathering of international development actors in Europe brought together over 8000 participants under the theme “Addressing inequalities: building a world which leaves no one behind.” Cooperatives Europe organised two sessions and a debate in its stand presenting the activities of Cooperatives Europe Development Platform (CEDP) and #coops4dev, showcasing the cooperative way of addressing inequalities. 

Here is an overview of what happened during those two days dedicated to international development.

Stand 7: Cooperatives Europe  

Cooperatives Europe, together with its Development Platform (CEDP) and its #coops4dev team introduced the cooperative model and its role in reducing inequalities to the event visitors. 

We were honoured to receive cooperators from the field, Emily Maranga from GROOTS and Javad Mahmoudi, who respectively promoted the CEDP projects WOPRE from We Effect and S.P.R.IN.G from Legacoop.  Emily is leading a Kenyan project on women’s leadership and governance, fighting for women’s political representation. Javad for his part works to strengthen the capacity of cooperatives to promote inclusive and sustainable growth by supporting the rural producers in the county of Bam, Iran. Participants were also able to win cooperative products from Iran by taking part in the social media competition. 
Participants could also watch videos from the documentary initiative in the “coop cinema” corner. The project was developed by Sara Vicari and Andrea Mancori, who have set out on a year-long journey to discover and document inspiring cooperatives stories. The project is supported by the International Co-operative Alliance and its regional organisations. 

Report lab on peace-building

The report lab based its discussion on “Cooperatives and peace,” the latest publication of Cooperatives Europe based on 20 case studies from around the world. The session highlighted cooperatives as crucial actors for assuring more equal and peaceful societies and brought together a panel of experts and representatives from the field. Moderated by Peter van Sluijs, Coordinator CSPPS at the Catholic Organisation for Relief and Development Aid, the Report Lab focused on cooperatives’ actions on the field which are linked to reducing inequalities, peacebuilding and conflict resolution, implemented in partnership with various civil society organisations as well as local and regional governments. The speakers highlighted some concrete examples of initiatives which positively impact communities facing different types of social, political, economic and cultural long-lasting challenges. The audience had the opportunity to understand the concrete tools and methods cooperatives use to address and foster inclusion.

Agnès Mathis, Director of Cooperatives Europe highlighted the organisation’s political perspective on cooperatives’ impact on peacebuilding, as well as the importance of creating and sustaining partnerships with high-level institutions.  Amanda Benson, Projects and Research Officer at The Co-operative College spoke on cooperatives in post-conflict Rwanda; Samar Khalil, Project Manager at AVSI Lebanon talked about the Aamal Project in Lebanon with a focus on employment opportunities for refugees. Finally, Juan Cuervo, Executive Secretary of RevoluSolar presented the setting of the renewable energy cooperative in a Brazilian favela.

Find the official EDD pictures here.

Brainstorming on youth empowerment

Moderated by Trees Vandenbulcke, Advisor in Cooperative Entrepreneurship at CERA, the brainstorming session  addressed four important EU’s cross-cutting topics: unemployment, education, access to finance and mobility. The audience, divided in four groups linked to these topics, focused on youth’s key role in sustainable development and came up with some tangible strategies on how to empower young people’s voices, especially through cooperative entrepreneurship.

Goda Neverauskaite, Advisor at the International Trade Union Confederation, led the unemployment table, by asking the participants to find concrete solutions on creation of decent jobs for young people.  Tom Gelade, Microinsurance Program Coordinator at the Belgian Raiffeisen Foundation, focused on ways of ensuring a better access to finance for the youth.  Valeria Rainisio, European Project Expert at the Financial Agency of Liguria Region raised the discussion on the concept of mobility and how it could help empower young professionals.  Finally, peer-to-peer training was approached by the table supervised by Tapiwa Nyandoro, Capacity Building Coordinator at Impact Hub Global, focusing on how peer training could be useful for young people and help them tackle the inequalities they face. A set of potential solutions that will be used for future events and our advocacy work have been put on the table.

Find the official EDD pictures here.

Debate: Renewable energy, gender and environmental inequalities

The debate co-organized with Woman engage for a common future (WECF) and moderated by’s Sara Tachelet, engaged an inclusive conversation on how cooperatives can promote gender mainstreaming, challenging traditional gender roles in order to empower women as well as affordable access to renewable energy.

Speakers Cuervo, Executive Secretary of RevoluSolar; Yolanda Picazo, Co-President of Mujeres Con Energia; Jos Harmsen, Senior Coordinator Sustainable Energy at Max Havelaar; Katharina Habersbrunner, Senior Coordinator Sustainable Energy at WECF and Sara Tachelet from REScoop took part the lunch-time debate. 


Photo gallery:


Here is a short video summing up those two days.

You can also watch our Facebook Live here.

Thank you to all speakers and participants who helped us make the best of this year’s edition of the EDD. Those enriching discussions surely contributed to effectively reducing inequalities through highlighting the key roles of cooperatives in international development. We sincerely hope to see you there next year at the #EDD2020!

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