As we look forward to the announcement of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize recipient, I wanted to share some reflections on EcoViva’s recent participation in the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Forum.
The Nobel Peace Prize Forum convenes Nobel laureates, leaders, and peacemakers with students and community members to engage in dialogues on peace-building. The forum takes place annually on the campus of Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
EcoViva was invited by the Winds of Peace Foundation and our friend and collaborator Dr. Rene Mendoza to participate in a roundtable discussion about how worker-owned agricultural cooperatives promote stability in post-conflict societies. He shared his findings from years of action research in Central America.
Actors in the grower-to-consumer process participated in the discussion, including representatives from cooperatives throughout Latin America, spanning Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and Colombia. Participants included Donaldo Zuñiga from our partners Red COMAL in Honduras, Marina Concepción Hernández from COMUCAP (Coordinator of Women Peasants for Peace, a member organization of Red COMAL), as well as Jacinto Peña, founder of the La Esperanza de los Campesinos Cooperative in Santa Fé, Panama.
Some of the key findings that we discussed were:
- Co-ops empower women. Women who participate in co-ops earn their own income and through their involvement have opportunities for civic engagement and political expression.
- Participation in co-ops leads to improved nutrition, education, and income generation for families.
- Many participants mentioned that the environment also benefited from the practices that co-ops promote, including organic farming, efficient water use, soil conservation, and biodiversity.
- Communities with established cooperatives tend to be more peaceful. Several workshop participants gave accounts of violence in their communities diminishing as cooperatives became stronger institutions.
So, while our partners in Central America might not win this year’s Nobel Peace Prize (and there’s always next year) for their efforts to promote peace, a dignified living, and environmental protection, we are proud to stand with them.
You can participate. When you give to EcoViva you are supporting a the efforts of hundreds of cooperative members who feed thousands of people. Donate today.