International Day of Cooperatives: How are co-ops celebrating?

'As co-operatives we always show that a different world is possible, one with social justice, in perfect harmony with nature, a world at peace'

Tomorrow (2 July) co-operatives around the world celebrate the International Day of Co-operatives.

Themed “Co-operatives build a better world”, the day promotes awareness of the co-operative business model. It has been celebrated by the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) since 1923 and by the UN since 1995.

To mark the day ICA president Ariel Guarco released a video in which he noted the importance of the celebration.

“This year we are participating in a historic edition of the International Day of Cooperatives – this is the 100th edition of the day, which has been celebrated since 1923,” he said.

“As co-operatives we always show that a different world is possible, one with social justice, in perfect harmony with nature, a world at peace. That is why we are celebrating this day with the certainty that every day we are transforming our planet into a place where we can live with dignity, and where future generations will be able to do this too. Let’s continue doing what we are doing to build a better world together. Happy International Day of Cooperatives!”

The ICA is encouraging co-ops to use the day’s theme to showcase how human-centred business models, inspired by the co-operative values, are building a better world. The apex has released a range of tools for co-ops to use, including a logo, key messages and other digital resources available at www.coopsday.coop.

Iñigo Albizuri, the president of the International Organisation of Industrial and Service Cooperatives (CICOPA) issued a statement ahead of the day, highlighting two important milestones for the global worker co-operative movement: the 100th International Day of Cooperatives and 20 years from the recommendation of the International Labour Organisation Number 193 on the Promotion of Cooperatives.

“This historical recommendation acknowledges that “co-operatives in their various forms promote the fullest participation in the economic and social development of all people,” he said.

“Indeed, over the years our worker and social co-operatives – employing four million persons across the world – have consistently built a better world through creating quality jobs, empowering disadvantaged groups of the population, and providing affordable, much needed goods and services.

“However, this day of co-operatives we look not only into the past but also into the future.

“Policymakers across the globe increasingly pay more attention to the benefits of the cooperative model because we have answers to many of the challenges modern societies are facing.

“United Nations, OECD, European Union, and individual countries are discussing the advantages of the co-operatives and other social economy organisations and creating new policy and financial instruments to support them. We hope that this important work will continue and spans in the entire globe, to enable the growth and development of co-operatives everywhere.

“This Day of Co-operatives, we are full of hope and commitment to building a better world for the future. I wish you a great International Day of Co-operatives.”

To mark the day, Rose Marley, the CEO of Co-operatives UK, published a blog post in which she highlighted the international impact of the UK’s co-operatives. “They range from disaster relief projects,” she wrote, “which help those in desperate need to uplifting international projects which improve people’s livelihoods each and every day.”

Meanwhile, Central England Co-operative has used the day to announce the launch of a programme to directly support co-operatives in Malawi.

“Investment in Malawi will be generated from a unique fund with a percentage of all Central England’s Fairtrade product sales will fund the investment in what will be a five-year pilot. We can’t wait to discover more about this life-changing initiative, which also involves the Co-operative College and other partners,” wrote Ms Marley.

Co-operatives in the United Arab Emirates are also celebrating. The country’s largest co-operative by turnover, Union Coop published a statement in which it reiterated its commitment to corporate social responsibility.

Dr Suhail Al Bastaki, happiness & marketing director, said: “International Day of Cooperatives is always a wonderful occasion to look back at our journey and the distance covered in terms of societal achievement and contributions, evaluate where we stand today and set future goals that will help us create a better world for ourselves and for the generations to come.”

Union Coop’s Al Warqa City Mall

“This year’s theme is aptly named ‘Co-operative build a better world’ as we at Union Coop believe ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ to be a primary element that not only defines us but drives us to be BETTER every day. Being the largest Consumer Cooperative in the UAE, Union Coop plays a vital role in regulating the market prices and thus benefits the hard-working consumer with justified prices and premium quality.

“The sales volume of local, organic and hydroponic fresh vegetables and fruits has always been on a steady rise, as supporting and encouraging local agriculture comes at the top of our priorities, to achieve sustainable agricultural goals and enhance stocks and food security in the country. Moreover, we have been working closely with local farms to ensure healthy agricultural practices and help them in multiple ways.

“Recently, in line with the directives of the Executive Council of Dubai, we decided to limit single-use plastic bags jointly with other retailers from July, which is a very important step towards gradually establishing a sustainable environment. So yes, we can easily establish that Cooperatives already are playing a crucial role in building a better world for the current and next generations.”

The theme of this year’s International Day of Cooperatives is the same as that of the International Year of Co-operatives, which was celebrated by the United Nations in 2012.

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