Cooperatives are a key constituent of the social and solidarity economy, says ICA

The apex body would welcome a UN resolution on the Social and Solidarity Economy

The International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) has adopted a new position paper with a commitment to promoting the social and solidarity economy (SSE) around the world.

This will include establishing strong partnerships with other global SSE organisations.

The paper explores the contributions of the SSE to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and notes that co-operatives and mutuals form part of the wider SSE economy.

The ICA participates in the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on SSE (UNTFSSE) as an observer representing the co-operative movement. UNTFSSE says SSE enterprises are characterised by the following features: voluntary and open membership; democratic governance; autonomous management; entrepreneurial nature; reinvestments of surpluses to carry out sustainable development objectives; and services of interest to their members and to the society.

The position paper argues the co-operative movement is a major player in the world’s economy and society and, therefore, a main actor within the SSE. As revealed in the 2019 edition of the World Cooperative Monitor, the 300 largest co-operatives and mutuals have a join total turnover of US$2,034.98bn.

At the latest UNTFSSE meeting on 21 July, participants including representatives from representatives from ICA and Euricse explored the impact of Covid-19 and emphasised the importance of having a UN resolution on the SSE.

“The ICA welcomes and supports the UNTFSSE initiative regarding a UN resolution on SSE,” says the ICA position paper. “We recognise the very important contribution of SSE towards inclusive and sustainable development with a positive impact on people and the planet.

“Co-operatives, as a key SSE actor, remain committed to effectively contribute to the realisation of the UN Agenda 2030 and Sustainable Development Goals in their economic, social, and environmental dimensions.”

The resolution should acknowledge the importance of the common SSE features, added the ICA.

“The ICA supports the definition of SSE used by the UNTFSSE while noting that it should be inclusive of all actors who are based on the above-mentioned SSE features, and that cooperatives should always be explicitly mentioned as being part of SSE,” the paper says.

“We advocate for an enabling environment and support towards the promotion of SSE following an actor-based approach, ensuring that the specificities and needs of the various SSE actors are considered, including cooperatives. For SSE organisations and enterprises to develop and comply with their mission, they need a robust enabling environment with solid prudential regulation, protecting democratic governance, autonomy, as well as voluntary and open membership.

“However, we should emphasise that the formulation and adoption of SSE policies should not replace the existing legislation and policies for cooperative at the national level.”