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“People helping People”: the Observance of the International Day of Cooperatives 2014 in New York

14/07/2014 - 

New York, 10 July 2014- Observing the International Day of Cooperatives (IDC) 2014, with the theme “Cooperative Enterprises Achieve Sustainable Development for All” at UN Headquarters, New York, representatives from governments, the UN System, the cooperative movement, the private sector and civil society organizations heralded the achievements of the cooperatives and the contribution they have made to the empowerment of people.

Coming at a time when the international community is seized with devising a new development agenda – the so called Post 2015 development goals - the message was resoundingly clear – cooperative enterprises have a role to play in sustainable development, both in developing and developed countries and are pertinent to all three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, environmental and social.

Co-organized by the Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives (COPAC), Sharon Brennen Haylock, speaking for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reminded participants that IDC presented an opportunity “to heighten awareness around the world on the crucial contributions cooperatives make to poverty reduction and sustainable development “

Looking ahead on the potential that cooperatives could play in the Post-2015 Development Framework, Ms Daniela Bas (UNDESA/DSPD), delivering the message of the UN Secretary-General, stressed “as member-owned, member-run and member-serving businesses, cooperatives can put social justice and equity at the heart of economic progress while helping to ensure that the production and provision of goods and services matches the needs and aspirations of communities.”

Speaking for Mongolia, a country with a long history of support for cooperatives, Ambassador Och Od, Mongolia’s UN representative, recalled the many policy decisions taken by the global community on cooperatives – those from UN conferences such as Rio+20 and from intergovernmental processes such as the UN General Assembly.  These decisions show the link that cooperatives have for many sectors of society and provide important guidance on a range of issues - Urban Development, Aging, Persons with Disabilities, Indigenous Peoples, Agriculture, Food Security, Protection of the Environment and Land Degradation.  As such, cooperatives stand to be a main player in the implementation of the new development agenda, a sentiment that was echoed by many who also addressed the conclave.

With over 700 thousand cooperatives worldwide, with 1 billion members, a message from the Director General of FAO referred to the importance of  member governments to support agricultural co-operatives through improved legal frameworks, policy support, and opportunities to participate in decision-making discussions.  Ms Brennen-Haylock, Director of FAO’s NY Office, further highlighted agriculture cooperatives and producer organizations and the critical role they play in  supporting small scale farmers and contributing to the reduce hunger and achieve food security in the world.

For cooperatives to live up to their full potential, they need political and financially autonomy, and an enabling envirioment that would allow such autonomy, such as transparent and sound regulatory frameworks, a conducive investment climate and creation of policy dialogue spaces between government and various stakeholders. 

Also participating in the observance were representatives of the ILO, ICA, UNFCU, NCBA and ICMIF.

Documents and other background information on the event can be found on this link.