Forum on International Cooperation – “Cooperatives Build a Better World”
The Cooperative Development Foundation and the Overseas Cooperative Development Council held a Forum in May at the National Press Club as part of the U.S. cooperative community’s observance of International Year of the Cooperative. The Forum highlighted the international cooperative development work of U.S.-based development organizations and its impact overseas and at home. The involvement of U.S. cooperative organizations in overseas activities grew out of the conviction that cooperative techniques, which have helped millions of American families, could be adapted to help poor and low-income people in developing countries.
Dame Pauline Green, President of the International Cooperative Alliance, opened the Forum with her perspective on the U.S. cooperative community’s role and impact in the commitment to support economic development in developing nations. Gordon Lindquist, Immediate Past Board Chair of CHF International, led a panel discussion of two U.S. cooperators who did volunteer cooperative economic development overseas and two representatives of countries where U.S. cooperative development organizations have programs. Dennis Hill of the ND Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives spoke of his work overseas through the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). Claudia Svarstad of the National Farmers Association discussed how her work through USAID’s Farmer-to-Farmer program and how involvement in volunteer exchange programs not only provides overseas cooperatives with expertise but also brings experience and ideas back to the U.S. cooperative community. The Honorable Linah Jebii Kilimo, Assistant Minister of Cooperative Development & Marketing, Kenya and Benyamin Carnadi, Economic Counselor, The Embassy of Indonesia, addressed the social and economic impact of the work of the U.S. cooperative development community in their countries.