The International Co-operative Alliance is the first organisation to receive the Pepe Miquel Award, which is organised by Valencia's co-op association Confederació de Cooperatives.
Dame Pauline Green, President of the ICA, collected the award last night on behalf of the ICA for its achievements in promoting the co-operative model worldwide.
Speaking to 200 delegates at the ceremony in Valencia, Dame Pauline said: “I am conscious that this award is given to the ICA for the work that it has done over its 117 year history as steward of the values and principles of our global movement and for its work to drive the development of co-operatives across the world.
“But in reality, it also represents the intrinsic recognition of the work of the billions of individual co-operators who are the real heroes and heroines. As co-operators, we know that the world would be a different place if just a fraction of the public money that went to bail out the big commercial banks across the world, had been put into co-operative development.
"It is their work over the last century and a half and today, that has helped to reduce conflict, embed democracy, build community cohesion, build skills and expertise, develop local leadership potential, support women into positions of economic activity and leadership in their communities — in effect they have been building civil society — all with the intellectual underpinning of the value of common endeavour in sustainable member-owned, local enterprises — in effect they have helped to take millions out of poverty with dignity, by helping them to build their own co-operative enterprises."
Dame Pauline Green added that co-operatives could also help regenerate the Spanish economy, severely affected by the financial crisis. She also congratulated the government of Mariano Rajoy for increasing spending on the social economy, including the development of worker co-operatives, to more than 940 million euros.