United Nations set to declare 2012 as Year of Co-operatives

The United Nations is in the final stages of declaring 2012 as the International Year of Co-operatives.

During the International Co-operative Alliance’s recent General Assembly in Geneva, newly-elected President Pauline Green told delegates that the UN is expected to formally ratify the resolution during December.

The UN’s Third Committee recently approved the first draft of the resolution proclaiming 2012 as the Year of Co-operatives, which is set to be formally approved by the UN’s General Assembly.

Put forward by 55 governments, the resolution calls for member states to raise awareness and promote the growth of co-operatives. It also proposes governments around the world review legislation governing co-operatives to ensure their growth and sustainability.

Working with the global co-operative movement, the resolution asks governments to also “develop programmes aimed at enhancing capacity-building of co-operatives, including by strengthening the organisational, management and financial skills of their members, and to introduce and support programmes to improve the access of co-operatives to new technologies”.

The UN also recommends governments and co-operatives work together to promote the growth of agricultural co-operatives through access to finance, investment in rural infrastructure and strengthened marketing mechanisms. Likewise it encourages collaboration to help the expansion of financial co-ops to provide access to banking services for all.

Dame Pauline told delegates at the ICA General Assembly: “It is our responsibility to make sure we’re not only ready for that year, but that we maximise the value that it offers to us. This means we have to act now and we have to act with speed.

“We should prepare by making sure that we drive our co-operative visibility in to the decision-making global institutions and create a real sense of the strength and the values of the co-operative economy in the world.”

To prepare for the Year, Dame Pauline hinted the global movement had to change direction: “We have to recognise that we’re not visible enough, globally, at the moment. The ICA is not yet a significantly recognised brand within the walls of the global institutions.

“Our co-operative identity is not given the priority that our size and contribution to the global economy demands and deserves. Let’s change that and change it now. Let’s use the name our founding fathers gave us and make sure that it’s known around the globe that we are proudly and confidently co-operatives.”

Added Dame Pauline: “If we are going to respond to the United Nations announcement, and if we are going to signal the global movement is now ready to move on from a period of internal reflection and modernisation, let’s use this moment to relaunch ourselves and mark a clear and focused change of direction by taking action and pursuing influence. The International Year will give us the opportunity for enhanced visibility and we must take it. We need to recognise that if we are going to succeed in 2012, we must build up our global influence.

“That means we must devote our limited resources and time to how best we can influence global decision making in the UN, the World Bank, the IMF, the economic and social fora and other global institutions.

“This means acknowledging where the centres of power, economic and political power increasingly reside in the world today and for the forseeable future. We have to make sure we have adequate and active representation and lobby in those centres."

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