United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on governments to support and strengthen the co-operative business model.
To mark International Co-operative Day on 6 July, Ban Ki-moon said co-operatives can help build “resilience in all regions and all economic sectors” while “we live in a time of global uncertainty”.
He said: “Multiple crises and natural disasters are testing even the most robust economies and communities. The International Day of Co-operatives is an annual opportunity to highlight how co-operatives can contribute to building resilience in all regions and all economic sectors.”
Highlighting the strength of the model, the Secretary-General singled out financial co-ops: “Over the course of the ongoing global financial and economic crises, financial co-operatives have proven their strength and resilience, benefitting members, employees and customers. They have maintained high credit ratings, increased assets and turnover, and expanded their membership and customer base.”
In keeping with theme — Co-operative enterprise remains strong in times of crisis — Ban Ki-moon also noted the solidarity of the sector and said co-ops can empower youth and answer the job crisis for young people.
He commented: “After disasters, such as earthquakes, tsunamis and floods, co-operatives have shown their ability to mobilise solidarity for reconstruction. Agricultural co-operatives improve the productivity of farmers by facilitating access to markets, credit, insurance and technology.
“Social co-operatives can provide an important safety net in the face of declining or minimal public welfare. They also show considerable potential for empowering youth and alleviating the growing global youth jobs crisis.”
In 2011, at the United Nations’ launch of the International Year of Co-operatives, Dame Pauline Green, President of the International Co-operative Alliance, called for governments to ensure a level-playing field for the movement in terms of policy and legislation.
The Secretary-General echoed these views in his 2013 Co-operative Day message: “I call on governments to encourage policies to support and strengthen co-operatives so they can contribute fully to inclusive and sustainable development.”
• To mark the Day, the UN will be hosting a panel discussion on 8 July in New York City, which will be streamed online. For more details, click here.