Cooperatives Key to Solve Food Insecurity

International group sends a message to the G-8 about not underestimating the power of the cooperative.

Published on: May 3, 2012

These days nearly 1 billion people in low-income and developing countries face daunting challenges to feeding themselves or their families. It's a challenge facing governments and policymakers around the world, yet there's one solution to the issue that an international group asks world leaders not to overlook: cooperatives.

During an address at the National Press Club Wednesday, Dame Pauline Green, president of the International Cooperative Alliance addressed the impact of cooperative development on alleviating hunger. Her address was part of the Cooperative Issues Forum held at the National Press Club.

Green, in her remarks, turned her attention to leaders of the G-8 urging them to address food security and argued that developing cooperatives in areas of greatest need could provide "a sustainable solution for hunger issues."

Cooperatives Key to Solve Food Insecurity
Cooperatives Key to Solve Food Insecurity

The cooperative, first created in the mid-1980s, was started to address food-related issues. "Food security is an aspect of sustainable development that leads to greater national security," Green says. "Cooperatives are values-based businesses that offer a sustainable solution to many of the world’s most pressing needs, from food security to gender equality. The United Nations designated 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives, demonstrating its recognition of the power of this business model to do good in the world. The G-8 also must recognize the contribution cooperatives can make to addressing social and economic issues."

The media statement from ICA points out that cooperatives today have over 1 billion members worldwide and employ more than 100 million people. The top 300 cooperatives in the world have a combined net worth of $1.6 trillion, which equals the ninth largest global economy, and could have a major role in providing food security.

Green is the first woman to serve as president of the organization.

The National Farmers Union was also part of the event. Claudia Svarstad, NFU vice president, points to a University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives study that shows there are about 30,000 cooperatives in the United States generating nearly $654 billion in revenue, more than two million jobs, and $75 billion in wages and benefits paid.