The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon marked the International Day of Co-operatives by issuing an official message to co-operators across the world:
“In this International Day of Co-operatives we celebrate how co-operatives build a better world, by advancing sustainable development, social integration and decent work.”
“Co-operatives empower their members and strengthen communities. They promote food security and enhance opportunities for small agricultural producers. They are better tuned to the local needs and better positioned to act as engines of local growth.
“The global crisis has also proved the ability of regeneration of the alternative financial institutions such as co-operative banks or gold and credit union co-operatives.”
Ban Ki-moon also said that co-operatives play a fundamental role in sustaining the local communities by offering employment opportunities for women, young people across the world.
“By pooling resources they enable access to finance, information and technology.
“In this International Year of Co-operatives, I encourage all stakeholders to continue building awareness and pursuing policies to strengthen co-operatives elsewhere. By contributing to human dignity and worldwide solidarity, co-operatives indeed build a better world.”
Dame Pauline Green, President of the ICA, described co-operatives as a “huge and inspiring movement”. She described how co-operators across the world have been celebrating the International Year of Co-operatives, from the Nepalese co-operators who took the ICA flag to the top of Mount Everest to the release of four children’s books on co-operation in Singapore.
“The critical thing for us this year is to raise the profile of our inspirational movement, and tell the stories about these wonderful co-operatives,” she said. “We hope that at the end of this year, we will pivot and transition from a really successful exciting International Year to a decade of co-operative growth.”
Chuck Gould, Director of the ICA said the year “is the time to tell the co-operative story to a wider audience. Co-operatives are a key part of the way forward for the 21st Century economy.”
The statement describes the role of co-operatives in the global economy, stating that the 300 top co-operative companies have a combined annual turnover of USD 1.6 trillion and that they provide over 100 million jobs worldwide.
In Kenya, co-operatives contribute 45 percent of GDP and in the US 30,000 co-ops employ two million people. “Co-operatives are values-based enterprises. The co-operative has the greatest degree of participatory governance of any of the major enterprise models. Because of this member engagement, co-operatives reflect the values of the community,” Mr Gould said.
He continued by saying that co-operatives cover every sector from agriculture and fisheries to banking and credit unions, “they are building a better world,” Mr Gould added.