A few days ago, the High Level Panel appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban-ki Moon to recommend the next international development agenda released its advisory report. Co-operatives are mentioned in it, although not as centrally as our record and future contribution merit. The annex of the report, ‘A New Global Partnership’, recommends: “Specific benefits and safeguards are provided for the informal sector; Innovative ways for them to organize such as through unions and cooperatives is encouraged.”
The work of the 27-member High Level Panel is the follow-on to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that were established in the year 2000. These eight major goal areas included: halving extreme poverty; providing universal primary education; and stopping HIV/AIDs. Not all of the targets have been reached, of course, or are likely to be by 2015, but the UN is fortunately not willing to declare success and move on.
Related to the MDG review are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a new set of objectives focusing on three pillars: economic development, environmental protection, and social equity. Agreement on producing SDGs was included in the declaration from the Rio+20 Conference on Environmental Sustainability last June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, titled ‘The Future We Want’, which was affirmed by 193 countries. That declaration did include strong support for co-operatives. The understanding is that the SDGs will serve as additional support for, and be complementary to, to post-MDGs. This new set of objectives are also intended to give local communities greater voice in the issues they address.
The UN General Assembly will address both the SDGs and post MDGs documents this September. The plan is to seek to combine them in a coherent effective development policy. ICA was active in the Rio+20 process and now in the post-MDG process and will continue to push the co-operative case. We are hopeful that this process will produce yet again another mandate for co-operatives in development initiatives.