ILO presents its work on cooperatives and wider SSE to the Asia Pacific Government Group ahead of the Governing Body

Representatives from ILO Enterprises Department presented its work on cooperatives and wider Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) to the Asia Pacific Group (ASPAG) ahead of the Governing Body.

News | 22 March 2021
The ILO presented its work on cooperatives and Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) to the government representatives of the Asia Pacific Group of the ILO (ASPAG) on March 15. The chair expressed an interest from the members of the group in a presentation on the topic, ahead of the upcoming ILO Governing Body (GB) where a possible inclusion of SSE as a topic for general discussion at ILC 2022 or 2023 will be tabled. This item will be discussed under Agenda of future sessions of the Conference.

Mr. Vic Van Vuuren, Director, Enterprises Department, ILO
Starting the presentation, Mr. Vic van Vuuren, Director of the Enterprises Department stressed that a general discussion on the SSE is timely, noting the growing attention to cooperatives and wider SSE for the role and potential they have to re-balance economic and social objectives and foster sustainable development. At the international level, he highlighted SSE was mentioned as an alternative model of growth in the UN Secretary General’s Report, and SSE’s critical role in the post COVID-19 recovery was also elaborated upon in the UN SSE Task Force (UNTFSSE) statement last year. At the national level, a growing number of countries, especially in Asia and the Pacific region, are developing or adopting measures to advance the SSE. He remarked that despite the rising importance, questions remain regarding the definition, measurement, size, potential, and limits of the SSE.

Ms. Simel Esim, Head, Cooperatives Unit, ILO
Ms. Simel Esim, Programme Manager at COOP Unit gave an overview of the services that ILO offer on cooperatives and the SSE. She elaborated on each of the five main areas of work: legal and policy advice, research and knowledge generation, development cooperation, training and capacity building and partnerships. She gave a few examples of ILO’s support for the development and implementation of cooperative and wider SSE policy and legislation in Sri Lanka, oPt, Jordan, Peru, Tunisia and South Africa, and the ongoing development cooperation project that aims to contribute to the development of the SSE policy in Asia and the Pacific region. Finally, she stated that the discussion of SSE in the ILC 2022 or 2023 could result in conclusions and a resolution to provide further guidance for the ILO to provide universal definition of the term and provide policy guidelines for member States. She noted, it will also equip the Office with guidance on how to engage in the promotion of the SSE worldwide and encourage the establishment of a wide range of partnerships with institution that promote the SSE.

Following the presentations, participants engaged in a Q&A session. Ms. Cheryl L. Daytec, Labor Attaché of the Philippine Mission to the UN, noted the vibrant landscape of social enterprises in the Asia and the Pacific region, and the importance of further leveraging its potential through conducive policy frameworks.

Mr. Akihiro Nakajima, Counsellor of Japan asked what policies are needed to support and promote SSE development. Ms. Esim remarked that establishing an enabling legal and institutional framework, by setting up a dedicated ministry or departments on SSE, for instance, could help bring formal recognition and targeted support to the SSE institutions. She cited the Republic of Korea as a good example. She also mentioned that policies around innovative financing mechanisms could be strengthened to enable SSE institutions to emerge and thrive. ILO representatives shared ILO’s publication on this topic. Mr. Vuuren stressed the importance of education, information and training on SSE, such as mainstreaming the curriculum on SSE in the educational system.

Mr. Si Gao, First Secretary of the Permanent Mission of China in Geneva pointed out that cooperatives and other SSE institutions have a major role to play in reaching the poor in the rural economy and realising decent work in China. He noted the relevance of these institutions in the implementation of China’s rural revitalization strategy. ILO representatives shared a dedicated page on ILO resources on cooperatives in the rural economy with the group.