Event on ILO Recommendation 193 and the Social and Solidarity Economy organized by ICA AP and ILO

The International Cooperative Alliance Asia and Pacific (ICA-AP) and the ILO jointly organised an event titled “ILO Recommendation 193 and the Social and Solidarity Economy : Perspectives from the Asia-Pacific Region” on the 9th of August.

News | 31 August 2022
Held online on the zoom platform, the joint event marked twenty years since the adoption of Promotion of Cooperatives Recommendation, 2002 (No. 193). It was in June 2002, during the 90th International Labour Conference (ILC) of the International Labour Organization that the Recommendation was adopted. This is in fact the first and only international labour standard on the cooperative identity that is highly pertinent to this day. Since its adoption, around 117 countries have drawn on its guidance in revising their cooperative policies and legislation. In addition to commemorating the 20th anniversary of ILO Recommendation 193, the event also featured reflections on the general discussion on ‘Decent Work and the social and solidarity economy’ that was held at the 110th ILC in June 2022.

The welcome remarks were delivered by Mr. Balasubramanian Iyer, Regional Director, International Cooperative Alliance - Asia and Pacific (ICA-AP). Mr Iyer outlined the role that ILO Recommendation 193 played over the past two decades. He noted that the Recommendation is a comprehensive and effective tool that provides guidance to Governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations as well as cooperative organizations in creating an enabling environment, public policies guided by cooperative values and principles. In addition Mr. Iyer highlighted the importance of the ILO Resolution concerning decent work and the SSE that were adopted at the 110th session of the ILC. He noted that the cooperative movement in the Asia Pacific region and beyond look forward to partnering on delivering on the strategy and action plan that will come out of the discussion of the ILO’s 346th Governing Body in November 2022.

In delivering his opening remarks Dr. Chandrapal Singh Yadav, President of ICA-AP lauded the role of ILO Recommendation 193 as a tool and catalyst across the globe for strengthening cooperatives’ advocacy towards the public sector, creating public policies, national laws and enhancing awareness about cooperatives as economic and social actors. He stressed upon the crucial role that the recommendation lays on governments in establishing the appropriate political, legal and institutional framework for cooperatives and how this is important in today’s context, as many countries, including India, are in the process of drafting new policies and amending their acts.

The Keynote Address for the event was delivered by Mr. Satoshi Sasaki, Deputy Director, ILO India Office and Director, Decent Work Team - South Asia who highlighted the conclusions from the 110th ILC as a milestone since it included an international definition of the SSE. This, he noted was the first time such an international definition was adopted within the United Nations system on the SSE. He reminded how across the globe and particularly in the Asia and Pacific region, cooperatives constitute the backbone of the SSE and that the ICA as a global representative body has held a general consultative status at the ILO since the establishment of the Organization.

Ms. Simel Esim, Manager, ILO Cooperatives, Social and Solidarity Economy Unit, delivered a video message on this occasion. In her video message Ms Esim affirmed how the cooperative movement has been a critical partner of the ILO since the inception of the organisation, with the first Director being a co-operator. She noted that a dedicated Cooperatives Service was setup at the ILO, as early as 1920. She also noted that the 110th ILC committee had proposed detailed conclusions to the conference and a resolution which were adopted at the plenary of the Conference. As a follow up to the resolution and conclusions of the committee, development of a strategy and action plan on decent work and the social and solidarity economy are underway for consideration at the ILO’s Governing Body at its 346th Session in November 2022.

The event held two panel discussions namely on ‘The Recommendation 193 as a milestone for strengthening the cooperative identity: what can we learn from the efforts over the past 20 years to promote cooperatives?’ and the second panel to discuss ‘Towards a strategy and action plan on decent work and Social and Solidarity Economy’.

Panel 1 on Recommendation 193 was moderated by P Santosh Kumar, Director, Legislation, International Cooperative Alliance, Brussels. The three panellists who participated shared their reflections and perspectives from both the regional and national levels.

The panellists included Mr. Kelvin Sergeant, Specialist, Sustainable Enterprise Development and Job Creation, ILO Decent Work Team - South Asia who made a presentation regarding development cooperation projects on cooperatives. The two other panellists were Mr. Joseph Ballota Encabo, Chairperson, Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), Philippines and Dr. Dat Chu, Vice Director, International Cooperation Department, Vietnam Cooperative Alliance (VCA) who both shared their experiences in promoting cooperatives and the cooperative movements at the national levels in Philippines and Vietnam respectively.

Mr. Encabo, the Chairman of CDA, the apex Government-led cooperative development agency in the Philippines; exhorted the role played by the ILO R193, cited forward looking policy measures undertaken by the agency for the development of cooperatives in the Philippines and also mentioned about the upcoming International Cooperative Expo to be hosted the Philippines during the next year. In context of the ILO R193, Dr. Dat Chu outlined facts about the growth of the cooperative movement in Vietnam, the 2012 national law on cooperatives, activities undertaken by the VCA including conferences, symposiums and publications for the study and development of a national cooperative strategy etc.

The second panel held a discussion ‘Towards a strategy and action plan on decent work and Social and Solidarity Economy’ which was moderated by Ms. Laurence Kwark, Outgoing Secretary General, Global Social Economy Forum (GSEF), South Korea. Ms Kwark shared her reflections both from South Korea and the region, leading GSEF, as a representative body for the global SSE movement and advocating for the recognition of the SSE. The other panellists were : Ms. Juhee Lee, Manager, International Cooperation, iCOOP, South Korea Ms. Mirai Chatterjee, Chairperson, Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA), India Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria, Head of the Secretariat for the All-Party Parliamentary Group Malaysia on Sustainable Development Goals (APPGM-SDG).

Ms. Mirai Chatterjee outlined SEWA’s joint action and strategy of both union and cooperative, while stressing on the three tenets of full employment, self-reliance and social security and how cooperatives are a very viable and constructive alternative to formalising the informal (within a country where 93% of the workforce is in the informal sector). She highlighted the need to promote solidarity organisations and also pointed out that 88 per cent of women’s enterprises created are still active and viable engaged in six sectors of work and impacted over 300,000 informal women workers. She also mentioned the role of women collective enterprises in building resilience and cited the response to COVID-19 in providing emergency relief and rehabilitation.

Ms. Juhee Lee made a presentation on the interventions made by iCoop, a federation of over a hundred consumer cooperatives in South Korea to raise awareness among public and consumers and develop the overall social and solidarity economy including by providing cooperative start-up counselling, small research support and tie-ups and scholarships with three universities to support study in social economy and cooperatives.

Dr. Denison Jayasooria highlighted the cooperative movement’s commitment to an alternative economic model and that several recent international resolutions and conclusions have set the policy agenda clearly. However, he noted that policy advocacy should trickle down to the national level to create an enabling environment which is critical for the solidarity economy and for this he exhorted apt and sustained action for appropriate international frameworks to translate into national policy agendas.

The panel discussions followed a semi-structured discussion format led by the moderators, while the overall event was facilitated by Mr. Ganesh Gopal, Lead-Entrepreneurship Development, ICA Asia and Pacific. The panels also discussed pertinent subjects such as the wider application of ILO R193, developing upon ILO's 2019 Guidelines on Cooperative Statistics and specific issues relating to the SSE such as : the need for individual SSE actors to foster synergies for collective action and contribute to the emerging global solidarity economy; advancement of SSE with employers, workers organizations and SSE actors in the Asia and Pacific region and SSE entities’ contribution to a just transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and sustainable lifestyles.

The event concluded with Mr. Balasubramanian Iyer, Regional Director, ICA-AP, delivering the closing remarks and thanking the participants, speakers, moderators, partners and co-organisers for making the event a pertinent and rich discussion.