Cooperatives and Fair Trade call on the EU for a debate on whether and how the private sector can contribute to sustainable development

Cooperatives Europe and the Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO) join forces yet again in promoting a people-centered business approach, especially with regard to the private sector as an emerging development actor.
In an article that recently appeared in GREAT (the monthly magazine of the European Center for Development Policy Management), Cooperatives Europe and the Fair Trade Advocacy Office call on the EU to encourage an informed public debate on the role of the private sector in/for development, which does not only focus on private sector development and private sector finance for development. Rather the debate should focus on the approach of businesses’  core operations; how businesses are organised; and whether, when, and how the private sector can serve as a tool to achieve poverty reduction and sustainable development objectives.
As it is outlined in the article, the cooperative and Fair Trade business models are market-based models that put people at the core of business. Both apply a people-centred business model where profit is a means to serve the people, not an end in itself. Indeed, these movements constitute private sector actors with development in their genes. Both are convinced that only a people-centred private sector can achieve sustainable development and inclusive growth.
Sergi Corbalan, Executive Director of Fair Trade Advocacy Office, recently appeared on a video programme produced by the European Economic and Social Committee, where he undrerlined the importance of cooperatives in empowering small holder producers to “trade themselves out of poverty.”

Marc Noel, International Development Manager of Cooperatives Europe, said: “In our work with the Fair Trade movement we seek to improve our coordinated influence on EU development policy. Our international network of cooperative organisations can greatly benefit the effectiveness of such policies and their implementation.”

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