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International Co-operative Alliance calls attention to equality as a lever to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals

03 Jul 2015

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Brussels, 4 July 2015 – Today, on the occasion of the International Day of Co-operatives, the International Co-operative Alliance calls attention to the potential of the co-operative principle of equality to drive global sustainable development.

The world is rife with inequalities. According to recent data 0.7% of the world population holds 44% of all the wealth, while 70% only holds 3%. While inequality within nations is increasing, inequality worldwide slightly decreases as middle classes emerge in China and India, and while the incomes of typical families in rich countries stagnate or decrease. Next to this, available national data regularly underestimates top 1 percent incomes. Global tax havens conceal still more income at the economic summit.

Equality is a lever which allows progress on poverty eradication, identified as the world’s most pressing issue in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. A more equal society will put people at the centre of sustainable development. Equality means to strive for justice, equity and inclusiveness, without distinction of any kind such as age, sex, disability, culture, race, ethnicity, origin, migratory status, religion, economic or other status.

Co-operatives play an important role in poverty reduction by widening ownership. They bring resources under democratic control and they allow people who are not in a pole position through gender, race, lineage or other, to assemble and own a business.

Dame Pauline Green, President of the International Co-operative Alliance: “Equality is about empowerment. It is about allowing each individual to strive to reach their potential without discrimination on the basis of gender, race, religion, sexuality or physical impairment. Equality is about a cultural, social and legislative environment that encourages tolerance and a greater understanding of those things that human beings share, rather than what divides them. It is about the State understanding that its role is to steward, promote and support rather than to dictate, enforce and punish. Co-operatives make equality possible because they provide people with a formal way of earning their living, benefit from legal protection and to increase their participation and engagement in the work environment.  Such empowerment of people provides a challenging but exciting way to a better balanced, sustainable future in the workplace, encouraging individuals to have the greater self-assurance that comes from decent employment where their voice is heard.”

Equality has been, since the beginning, a core value of the co-operative movement. By founding co-operatives, people all over the world have chosen a democratic model of business that fosters equality. Through its unique combination of global reach and needs-based business conduct, the co-operative movement holds unique potential to create a more equal world.