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India’s G20 Presidency was held under the theme ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ which translates to “We are One Earth, One Family, and We Share One Future.” In line with this, the G20 Declaration lays out a global roadmap for sustainable, inclusive, and human-centric development.


The overarching G20 priorities are accelerating progress on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), green development pact for sustainable future, multilateralism, technological transformation, gender equality and empowerment, and financial inclusion. These resonate with the values and principles of cooperatives which ensure ‘no one is left behind,’ while working to end poverty (reaching the poorest and most vulnerable); ensuring equality and inclusiveness; promoting accountable and transparent institutions; and caring for the community.


Cooperatives during India’s G20 Presidency were active in the B20, C20, W20, and Y20 working groups and have found references in final policy papers. This is in line with the earlier G20s held under the Presidency of Italy and Indonesia. The G20 Presidency under Brazil, a country which has active cooperatives will provide the opportunity to continue to enhance the visibility of cooperatives and strengthen their contribution to sustainable development.


G20 priorities and cooperatives


Strong, Sustainable, Balanced, and Inclusive Growth


The Declaration recognizes the cascading crises that have posed challenges to long-term growth and the uneven recovery underway. To boost long-term growth, the need is to implement well calibrated macroeconomic and structural policies that protect the vulnerable, by promoting equitable growth and enhancing macroeconomic and financial stability.  It recognizes the critical role of private enterprise in accelerating growth and driving sustainable economic transformations and in the creation of inclusive, sustainable, and resilient global value chains, and supporting developing countries to move up the value chain.


Cooperatives find mention in the Business 20 (B20) Policy Paper on Inclusive GVCs for Resilient Global Trade and Investment as a people-centric business model that can increase access to capital and market power, enhance growth and development at the grassroot level, enabling higher participation in trade and representation in decision-making bodies.


Cooperatives play a vital role in advancing the SDG agenda. The United Nations recognizes the significance of cooperatives in achieving sustainable development through various documents, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which highlights their potential to foster economic resilience, create jobs, and promote social inclusion.


Advancing Financial Inclusion


The Declaration encourages the continuous development and responsible use of technological innovations including innovative payment systems, to achieve financial inclusion of the last mile and progress towards reducing the cost of remittances. It also supports efforts to strengthen digital financial literacy and consumer protection.


Primary Cooperatives find mention in the B20 Policy Paper on Financial Inclusion for Economic Empowerment as bodies formed by the local people to cater to local needs. They are the first touch points for providing financial services to the financially illiterate, economically backward, and geographically isolated segments of society. Strengthening their capacities may help achieve the target of doorstep banking and address the trust deficit in financial institutions and government agencies. 


Cooperatives as member-owned organizations offer a viable alternative to traditional banking systems, particularly in areas with limited access to formal financial institutions. They empower individuals to save, access credit, and invest in their future, thereby fostering economic stability and self-reliance. Their community-centric approach and commitment to equitable sharing of profits contribute significantly to reducing inequalities and promoting financial resilience.  


Eliminating Hunger and Malnutrition


The Declaration commits to enhancing global food security and nutrition for all. This is to be done by strengthening research cooperation on climate-resilient and nutritious grains such as millets, quinoa, sorghum, and other traditional crops and emphasizing the importance of increasing access to, availability, and efficient use of fertilizer and agricultural inputs, including through strengthening local fertilizer production, and improving soil health.


Cooperatives play a pivotal role in the global fight against hunger and malnutrition.  They help small-scale farmers and producers access resources, markets, and knowledge. By pooling resources, cooperatives improve agricultural productivity, reduce post-harvest losses, and enhance food distribution systems. They also provide farmers with better bargaining power in negotiations, leading to fairer prices and improved livelihoods. Furthermore, cooperatives often prioritize sustainable and environmentally friendly farming practices, contributing to long-term food security. Their role in eliminating hunger and malnutrition aligns with the United Nations' SDG 2, which seeks to end hunger, achieve food security, and promote sustainable agriculture, underscoring the vital importance of cooperatives in addressing this global challenge.


Gender Equality and Empowering All Women and Girls


The Declaration highlights the years of cascading challenges and crises that have reversed gains in the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs and the disproportionate effect it has on women and children, and the most vulnerable.  It calls for closing gender gaps and promoting the full, equal, effective, and meaningful participation of women in the economy as decision-makers and steps to promote the full and meaningful participation of women in a transitioning world of work. Among other actions, it encourages investments in inclusive, sustainable, and resilient agriculture and food systems and to promote innovation for inclusive agri-value chains and systems by and for women farmers.


Cooperatives serve as a powerful tool for advancing the economic, social, and political empowerment of women engaged in the informal sector of agriculture and related activities. They provide women with access to resources, including land, credit, and agricultural inputs, which can be challenging for individual female farmers to obtain.  In many rural areas, women are disproportionately affected by food insecurity and poverty. Cooperatives provide a safety net, helping women cope with shocks such as crop failure or illness, through collective savings and support mechanisms.


Culture as a Transformative Driver of SDGs


The G20 Declaration calls on the international community to protect the living cultural heritage, including the intellectual property, notably with regard to the impact of the over commercialization and misappropriation of such living heritage on the sustainability and on the livelihoods of practitioners and community bearers as well as Indigenous Peoples.


In 2016, UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, added cooperatives to the list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity.  In making the case for cooperative recognition, the German government noted 'Cooperatives allow the identification and organization of shared interests and are thus a community-building practice. This is their most important cultural asset because this civic capacity is an important contribution to innovation and viable solutions for social and ecological issues in a society.


The G20 Declaration provides the opportunity for cooperatives to bring to be acknowledged as an important force in preserving cultural diversity, fostering understanding, promoting sustainable development, and empowering communities. In the process contributing to a more inclusive, interconnected, and culturally rich global society, which is particularly relevant in the face of current global challenges and opportunities.


Cooperatives Engagement in the B20


The B20 is the official G20 dialogue forum with the global business community. Established in 2010, B20 is among the most prominent Engagement Groups in G20, with companies and business organizations as participants. The B20 bases its work on Task Forces (TFs) and Action Councils (ACs) entrusted to develop policy recommendations to the G20 and to international organizations and institutions. Cooperatives this year were actively engaged in some of the TFs and find mention in the B20s final recommendations to the G20 Presidency.


The B20 Policy Paper for Financial Inclusion for Economic Empowerment mentions primary cooperatives and SHGs as bodies formed by the local people to cater to local needs. The individuals running SHGs, primary cooperatives and MSMEs require sustained assistance for the following:


  • To gain access to markets (both physical and digital),
  • Secure working capital for running their enterprises,
  • Grow and scale their enterprises,
  • Improve financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills,
  • Overcome regulatory barriers.
  • Reduce operating expenses and expand their network


Thus, strengthening the capacities of these should be a top priority to promote both financial inclusion and economic empowerment as they are the first touch points for providing financial services to the financially illiterate, economically backward, and geographically isolated segments of society. The paper also moots special fund for financing women-led collective and cooperative enterprises.


Priority Theme 6: Harnessing power of Business Correspondents in Financial Inclusion


Policy actions 6.1 aims to promote primary cooperatives as the physical touchpoints for digital delivery of last-mile financial services.


G20 governments to create a framework for collaboration between FinTechs and primary cooperatives to deliver financial services in a "phygital" mode, i.e., providing digital financial services at the last mile through agents, enterprises, and co-operatives within 3 years.


Policy actions 6.2 Establish a regulatory framework for managing and overseeing the SHG ecosystem.


Financial Services regulators from the G20 nations to develop a regulatory framework with guidelines on consumer protection, governance, loan disbursement, penalties, etc. to enable holistic oversight at the Self-help Groups (SHG) level, within 2 years.


G20 nations to create guidelines for imparting a distinct digital identity for SHGs in order to improve their access to formal capital, within 3 years.


Priority Theme 7: Targeted interventions for Agri & Rural segments


Policy actions 7.1 Prioritize financial inclusion of the small landholding and landless farmers in the agriculture segment.


Financial services regulators from the G20 nations to develop guidelines to extend universal insurance to farmers to mitigate crop loss, cattle deaths, and climate change risks within 2 years.


G20 nations to develop a framework to digitize the agricultural value chain to enhance credit access by leveraging alternate farm/livelihood data within 3 years


The monitoring framework builds on existing data systems and proposes to strengthen them further by capturing some of the other critical dimensions, such as the role of Digital Public Infrastructure, Gender and Diversity, Capacity Building through incubation and financial literacy, Self Help Group (SHG) and cooperative promotion, etc., in achieving financial inclusion.


The B20 Policy Paper on Energy, Climate Change & Resource Efficiency highlights the need for a ‘just, equitable and resilient transition’ and the crucial role that the Global North can play in supporting the Global South and ensuring an inclusive transition is paramount. Whilst the focus is often on large producer organizations and their employees, it is crucial to also consider MSMEs, including cooperatives and entrepreneurs, who rely on larger producer companies. 


These organizations are particularly vulnerable to disruptions and require access to capacity building and financing to assess risks, enhance resilience and adopt transition mechanisms. Furthermore, MSMEs have played a significant role in protecting economies during global recessions, and their relevance will continue to be essential in decarbonization and energy transition.


It is important that mobilization of the informal sector entails municipalities establishing direct contractual or covenant relations with informal sector organizations. But to facilitate this, the informal sector needs to organize itself into cooperatives or other legal or semi-legal structures. For efficient waste management, it is more appropriate and economical to integrate the concept of 7R’s of Rethink, Refuse, Reduce, Repurpose, Reuse, Recycle and Recover products in informal sector.


Policy Action 3.2: Mainstream gender inclusion and just transition for MSMEs dependent on larger producer companies facing phase down or transition.


Foster a supportive environment for MSMEs: Provide assistance and resources to MSMEs, including cooperatives and entrepreneurs, to facilitate their transition towards sustainable practices.


Policy Action 4.4: Mainstreaming informal sector within the formal sector in the waste management especially in developing and emerging economies


Develop policies that enable and empower municipalities and ULBs to analyze the current state of the informal sector in the respective country and create frameworks to integrate them in the existing formal sector. 


The B20 Policy Paper on Inclusive GVCs for Resilient Global Trade and Investment highlights the role that cooperatives play as organizations that contribute substantially to trade; drive inclusion and make global trade accessible for marginalized groups. The people-centric business model adopted by cooperatives can increase access to capital and market power, enhance growth and development at the grassroot level, enabling higher participation in trade and representation in decision-making bodies. The versatility of the model permits shared innovation and resilience through rapid response to crises.


Along with MSMEs, cooperatives form a major percentage of the workforce. While they can be

large in scale, cooperatives especially in developing countries and LDCs face crucial challenges such as access to finance, access to markets, trade barriers and access to skilled labor. These barriers limit the GVC integration of co-operatives and thus limit their capabilities.


Policy Action 4.1: Develop inclusive ecosystems by identifying transformative opportunities for enhanced participation of LDCs, MSMEs, women and youth in global trade

Recognize the importance of cooperatives and deploy policy levers to facilitate the participation of co-operative societies in global trade.




There was active engagement in the TFs from the National Cooperative Union of India, the Krishak Bharati Cooperative Limited, the National Federation of State Cooperative Banks Limited, The Punjab State Cooperative Agricultural India Development Bank, Ltd., The H.P. State Co-operative Bank Ltd., Self Employed Women’s Association, and the International Cooperative Alliance Asia and Pacific.


India’s G20 Presidency has resulted in fostering constructive and consensus-based solutions to tackle several challenges, including restoring global growth, reinforcing climate action, and emphasizing human-centric development. These are issues which resonate with cooperatives in India and across the world. Cooperatives as member-owned and democratically managed organizations play an important role in driving economic development, reducing poverty, and promoting social inclusion. The mentions about cooperatives show that they have an important role to play in the G20 agenda for development to promote inclusive economic growth, help reduce poverty and inequality and enhance sustainable development that focuses on long-term and not short-term needs; and contribute to broader economic stability and resilience.


Balasubramanian Iyer, Regional Director
International Cooperative Alliance Asia and Pacific 
(views expressed are personal)






G20 Declaration



Policy Paper - Inclusive GVCs for Resilient Global Trade and Investment


Policy Paper – Financial inclusion for economic empowerment


Ensuring no one is left behind: The linkages between the cooperative model and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development