COOP Champions

Martin Gasser, Senior Programme Officer at the Sustainable Enterprises and Economies Programme at the ITCILO Turin

COOP Champions features ILO colleagues from around the world working on cooperatives and other social and solidarity economy enterprises. It highlights their contributions, and shares highlights of their experiences, current work, and future aspirations.

Article | 29 August 2022

Could you tell us about yourself and your work in ITC Turin?

I am currently the Senior Programme Officer at the Sustainable Enterprises and Economies Programme at the ITCILO. My portfolio includes learning / training activities on the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE), including cooperatives, and Rural Development and Entrepreneurship Training. My experience includes organising Training, Training of Trainers (ToTs), Knowledge learning events, Academies, etc. Throughout the years we have been testing innovative learning approaches and technologies, from face-to-face events to distance-learning, from Massive Open Online Courses to Gamification and Virtual Reality.

What has been your engagement with cooperatives and wider SSE portfolio in ITC Turin?

Since 2003 I have organized different activities in cooperation with the ILO’s Cooperatives Unit. These include courses on Cooperative Policy and Legislation, ToTs on My.Coop, Think.Coop and Start.Coop. I have also coordinated different cooperative study visits in Italy with Italian cooperatives which is of particular interest for ILO Constituents. I also facilitated the development of SMART.Coop online self-learnings since 2018.

Since 2010 12 SSE Academies were organized per year using different methods including iterative events like roadshows. These academies promote active knowledge sharing among policy makers and practitioners. They usually come about with governments asking ITCILO and ILO to organize an Academy in their country. Each academy has a focus on a given topic, such as youth employment, future of work, or building resilience. Most SSE Academies have also included South-South and Triangular cooperation exchanges. On average, the SSE Academies have had 130 participants.

Could you tell us about the work ITC Turin does with the My.Coop training package on managing your agricultural cooperative?

My.Coop was created 10 years ago, in the framework of the ILO CoopAfrica project. My.Coop is the result of a partnership among a number of organisations to promote and improve the performance of existing agricultural cooperatives. Since its launch ITCILO has focused on implementing the training package and promoting its dissemination. Using creative commons principles has allowed for the rapid replication and adaptation of the materials into many languages and countries. The demand for My.Coop ToTs has increased considerably throughout the years. For its 10th birthday My.Coop got a methodological restyling, and will be offered in its new form in the month of September, with the self-learning package SMART.Coop.

Could you tell us about the SSE Academies, the last of which was held virtually last year? What has been achieved through them?

The ILO, jointly with OECD, have pioneered in the promotion of the SSE. The first SSE Academy was launched in 2010, following a regional tripartite conference in Africa, that conferred the ILO and ITCILO work to promote the SSE, raise awareness about its potential and share information on good practices. Initially, the SSE Academies were not easy to organise, as the concept was new and the enthusiasm among our ILO Constituents was low. The initial SSE Academies needed substantial seed funding from the ILO. This has changed over time as it is mainly governments who ask for the Academy to be held in their countries to give the SSE increased national and international visibility. Through the UN Task Force on SSE the topic has been embraced by more UN organisations which helps in the promotion of this exciting topic.

One of the key achievements of the SSE Academies is likely the contribution to an increased awareness of the potential of the SSE among policy makers and practitioners all over the world. I personally believe that it has been one of the seeds that made the ILC conclusions grow.

What do you think are the implications of the Conclusions on decent work and the SSE adopted at the 110th ILC with respect to the work of ITC Turin on this portfolio?

I believe that the Conclusions on decent work and the SSE adopted at the ILC will likely contribute to boosting the SSE portfolio in the ILO and in the UN system. There is great need for the creation of an enabling environment on the SSE including through the development of policies, raising awareness, sharing knowledge and building capacities.