Co-ops on the agenda at the International Conference of Labour Statisticians

Speakers identified the need for more work on co-op statistics in different countries and for working groups to develop new guidelines

The 21st International Conference of Labour Statisticians (ICLS) explored the importance of statistics on co-op and the social and solidarity economy (SSE).

Held from 11-20 October, the conference featured two sessions on co-ops and the SSE on 16 October. During these discussions, participants heard from David Hunter, a statistician and an ex-ILO official, who offered an update on the progress of the ILO initiative on the applicability and implementation of the Guidelines concerning Statistics of Cooperatives in five countries: Costa Rica, Italy, the Republic of Korea, Tanzania, and Turkey.

“We have shared our progress on testing the international guidelines concerning statistics in five countries,“ he said. “I am happy to note that we have gotten positive feedback and useful insights from the 21st ICLS participants to continue this important work in more countries and toward the development of a manual.”

Based on these findings, he concluded that the guidelines had proven their relevance for different national contexts and approaches. In a report he prepared for the conference, Hunter pointed out that while statistics on co-operatives are collected by co-operative associations, or by government agencies regulating co-operatives, are available in many countries, they are often “incomplete and outdated”. As such, these statistics “may not be fully comparable internationally or harmonised with other official national statistics on the broader economy and society”.

The report also notes that in many countries, co-ops are not included in national statistical frameworks and are not identifiable in mainstream official statistics.

The next steps for the ILO initiative will include deepening national action plans and establishing a working group to develop methods to measure the economic and social contributions of co-operatives, said Hunter. He added that an ILO manual on statistics of co-operatives would be developed in modular form and presented at the 22nd ICLS in 2028.

Representatives from Korea, Brazil, Uruguay and South Africa also took the floor, followed by employers’ and workers’ groups, all of whom indicated their overall support for the work on co-op statistics and shared their recommendations, including further engagement with national statistics offices.

The International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), which holds an observer status in the ILO, was represented by Hyungsik Eum, its director of research, who shared the experiences of various co-operatives and proposed future actions to develop the statistics on the SSE, inspired by the experience of statistics on co-operatives.

During the session on the statistics of the SSE, Prof Marie Bouchard, associate professor at the University of Quebec in Montreal, presented the Roadmap towards guidelines concerning statistics of the SSE. She explained that there are inconsistencies between existing international frameworks and the need for harmonised and standardised statistics on the SSE.

She the definition of the SSE to be operationalised in statistics – also an objective set out in the ILO’s Strategy and action plan on decent work and the SSE – and proposed a technical working group to start working on statistics of the SSE and guidelines on statistics of the SSE to be presented at the 22nd ICLS in 2028.