The ILO joined Cooperatives of the Americas to mark the 20th anniversary of Recommendation 193 and to share highlights of the discussion on decent work and the social and solidarity economy at the 110th International Labor Conference

During the session, cooperative leaders from the Americas reflected on the relevance of Recommendation 193 to advance the values of cooperativism in the region. They also reflected on what the upcoming general discussion on decent work and the social and solidarity economy that will take place at the 110th International Labour Conference mean for the cooperative movement in the region and globally.

News | 25 April 2022
The webinar took place on April 5th bringing together 220 participants on zoom. It was also followed by 436 viewers on youtube. It started with opening remarks by the President of the Cooperatives of the Americas, Ms Graciela Fernández Quintas. She referred to the essential role that cooperatives and the wider social and solidarity economy have played during the public health crises. She noted the important relationship between the cooperative movement and the International Labor Organization. She was followed by Mr Martin Fernández Aizcorbe, President of INACOOP Uruguay and the Coordinator of the Network of Public Bodies of Cooperatives of the Americas. In his remarks, Mr Fernández Aizcorbe noted that Recommendation 193 guided the cooperative legislation of Uruguay in 2008 which advanced cooperative integration process. He highlighted the responsiveness of the cooperative business model to systemic shocks as demonstrated during the unfolding crises around COVID19. He also pointed out to the transformation that cooperativism is currently undergoing in the region and globally.

The following panel was moderated by Ms Claudia Coenjaerts, ILO’s Acting Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. It focused on the restructuring of the cooperative identity with government, academia, and cooperative perspectives. Mr Hagen Henry, a professor emeritus of comparative law at the University of Helsinki, highlighted that Recommendation 193 has allowed the substantial execution of a cooperative law around the world. He added that the cooperative identity statement of the ICA from 1995, as annexed to Recommendation 193, is essential to the spirit of the text.”

The second panel focused on evaluating the impact of the initiatives to promote cooperatives in the Americas in the last twenty years from sub-regional, sectoral and thematic perspective. They noted how cooperatives present an opportunity for innovation in the circular and care economies and in the provision of community services. Ways women and youth benefited from cooperatives were also highlighted.
In this panel, speakers also highlighted some challenges and limitations. They noted that the could have used the opportunity presented by Recommendation 193 better to build synergies on the value of collective action. There were also some critical reflections on the relationship with governments and the need for cooperatives to have higher independence.

The third panel was moderated by the Regional Director of Cooperatives of the Americas, Mr Danilo Salerno. Ms Simel Esim, Head of the ILO Cooperatives Unit, was the main speaker in this panel.

She provided a presentation on decent work and the social and solidarity economy, a topic that will be discussed for the first time in a general discussion at the 110th International Labor Conference this year. Ms Esim shared highlights of the Office Report prepared to inform this discussion. She focused on the critical role of cooperatives and the wider social and the solidarity economy in the Americas. She pointed out to the work of the ILO's work on cooperatives and the wider social and solidarity economy through development cooperation, legal advice and policy advocacy, research and knowledge generation, training, capacity building and alliance building.

In the closing panel Ms Graciela Fernández invited cooperatives of the Americas to continue advocating with legislators to approve national cooperative laws. She encouraged them to keep reflecting on the cooperative identity. She recalled a phrase by José Gervasio Artigas Arnal, an Uruguayan statesman who said "We can expect nothing if it is not from ourselves."

A recording of the session is available here in Spanish. Ms Esim’s presentation is available here in English and Spanish.