Happy International Cooperative Day!
Cooperatives Europe joins the global cooperative movement in the celebrations of the International Cooperative Day. This year's theme for the International Cooperative Day is “Cooperative enterprises achieve sustainable development for all”.
Concern for the community is one of the cooperative movement’s founding values and, as such, the need to sustainably safeguard favourable living conditions for communities underpins all cooperatives’ operations and vision.
In a general sense, sustainability is the capacity to support, maintain or endure. Since the 1980s, the concept of sustaibability has evolved to mean the integration of environmental, economic and social dimensions. Cooperatives here again are the forerunners of modern sustainability. By placing human need at their centre, they respond to today’s crises of sustainability and deliver a distinctive form of shared value.
One of the goals of the International Cooperative Alliance’s Blueprint for a Cooperative Decade is to “position cooperatives as builders of sustainability”. The cooperative sector needs to explain and show to the world that sustainability is part of its intrinsic nature, and that cooperative enterprises make a positive contribution to sustainability.
As part of this, the Alliance commissioned a scan of cooperatives from different sectors and regions around the world to see how closely linked they are to sustainability. The report concluded that cooperatives embed sustainability into their operating model and values, and that the United Nations can and should recognise this. Indeed, in a resolution adopted in December 2001, the UN urged governments to encourage and facilitate “the establishment and development of cooperatives, including taking measures aimed at enabling people living in poverty or belonging to vulnerable groups to engage on a voluntary basis in the creation and development of cooperatives”.
The United Nations is currently setting ambitious new targets for the period after 2015 and these will be called the Sustainable Development Goals. The cooperative movement touches one billion people worldwide and through our vision of sustainable development for all, we can be key partners in this.