UN secretary general report looks at the role of co-ops in social development

The report will act as a point of reference for UN member states

A new report presented by the UN secretary general to the 76th session of the UN General Assembly (UN GA) highlights the opportunities for achieving sustainable development through co-operatives.

The report comes in response to a resolution by the GA in December 2019, which recognised the importance of co-ops in promoting the development of all. It asked the secretary general to submit a report on the implementation of this resolution.

The report highlights the benefits of the co-operative identity “in responding to the emergency and in taking long-term action for rebuilding better together from the pandemic”. It also mentions the characteristics of co-operatives outlined in the International Cooperative Alliance Statement on the co-operative identity as a set of standards fully integrated into ILO Recommendation No. 193 on the Promotion of Cooperatives.

Areas where co-operatives are making a difference include healthcare and finance, says the report. It encourages governments to “create policies and programmes to leverage the co-operative enterprise model for a more inclusive and resilient recovery by scaling up the provision of co-operative healthcare services to cover a larger number of people, with a particular focus on underserved communities”. And it mentions the role of co-operatives in providing access to finance towards underserved communities.

To further support the sector, national governments should continue to improve legislative and regulatory frameworks, adds the report. It encourages governments to create a supportive environment for the development of co-ops by ensuring they benefit from an equal treatment in policies and laws and passing a general law applying to all categories of co-op.

Another key area highlighted is the collection of data on co-operatives. The report recommends governments strengthen capacity to collect data on the role of co-ops in economic and social development and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, with reference to available methodologies, such as the guidelines concerning statistics of co-operatives.

The ICA welcomed the UN Secretary General’s report, particularly its references to the ICA Statement on the Cooperative Identity, and the recommendations on legislative and regulatory frameworks, and on strengthening the data collection on co-ops.

The apex also praised the report for including the main findings of the Legal Framework Analysis undertaken within the framework of the ICA-EU Partnership programme (2016-2021).

But it said the UN and national governments should also “consider the importance of all economic and social areas that co-operatives contribute to.”

It is hoped that the report will act as a point of reference for UN member states and guide their long-term pandemic recovery policy.

The 76th UN GA brought together leaders and stakeholders from around the world to discuss the best solutions for “Build(ing) resilience through hope”.