International Day of Cooperatives

Cooperatives: An old idea, but more relevant than ever in today’s world

Cooperatives are key to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, says ILO Director-General Guy Ryder on the occasion of International Day of Cooperatives.

Statement | 01 July 2016
© Bob Nichols / USDA
I am pleased to join the cooperative movement around the world in celebrating this International Day of Cooperatives.

The theme for this year’s international day, “Cooperatives: The power to act for a sustainable future”, is not only timely following the unanimous adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in September 2015. It also offers an important opportunity to highlight the outstanding work of cooperatives, and their major contribution to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Cooperatives are not a new idea, but are more relevant than ever if we look at the development challenges and opportunities the world faces over the coming decades.

Today, the world of work is at a crossroads, with the need to create over 600 million new jobs globally by 2030 to keep pace with the growth of the working population. What is more, the quality of jobs will need to be improved in order to enable women and men to lift themselves out of poverty and informality.

Many cooperatives worldwide have shown their capacity to provide quality jobs and thus support sustainable development. They contribute to SDG 8, as livelihoods of millions of people around the world depend on cooperatives, but also to a number of other goals, including those related to poverty reduction, zero hunger, gender equality, and peace and justice.

Over decades, cooperatives have offered a resilient, democratic, sustainable and economically viable model of doing business in all sectors of the economy.

To highlight these achievements, and in collaboration with the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA), the ILO issued a study in 2014 showing examples of how cooperatives help achieve sustainable development. This research contributed to the discussion leading to the adoption of the Sustainable Development Agenda.

Cooperatives, together with other micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, will continue to play a key role in providing decent jobs for all, including young people. They offer a low-barrier entry to the world of entrepreneurship, and play a key role in formalizing work in the informal economy. This leads to better working conditions and enhanced livelihoods for millions of workers and their families around the globe.

For these and other reasons, the ILO recognizes the role of cooperatives as drivers of sustainable development, and remains a strong supporter of the cooperative enterprise model. We look forward to continue working with the cooperative movement in making sustainable development and decent work a reality for all women and men.