Co-operative enterprises
build a better world

Global advocacy

The International Co-operative Alliance advances the interests of the co-operative movement through work with international policymakers. The Alliance’s advocacy work helps create a more supportive political, legal and regulatory environment in which co-operatives can thrive. The Alliance’s Co-operative Law Committee also advises on matters related to creating an enabling environment for co-operatives.

How we engage

At the United Nations, the Alliance participates in high-level discussions of relevance to co-operatives through its consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), which it has had since 1946, the first non-governmental organisation to do so.

Since 2014, the Alliance has been actively engaged in the Business 20 (B20), a forum of business leaders that makes recommendations to G20 governments for strong, sustainable and balanced growth in the global economy. Our delegation of co-operative leaders works to ensure that the co-operative voice is heard in the B20 Taskforces and represented in outcome documents.

The Alliance also has individual partnership agreements with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Trade Centre, and participates in the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Social and Solidarity Economy.

Since 1971, the Alliance has been a founding member of the Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Co-operatives (COPAC), a multi-stakeholder partnership of global public and private institutions that promotes and advocates for people-centred, self-sustaining cooperative enterprises, guided by the principles of economic, social and environmental sustainable development. 

What we ask of world leaders

From its work with the United Nations and its agencies, to its engagement with G20 governments, the Alliance has two key messages to convey:

  • Co-operative enterprises are important drivers of sustainable and inclusive development and growth.
  • The policy and regulatory environment should be conducive to the establishment and development of co-operative enterprises, which help create economic opportunities for all people, including the world’s poor, youth, women, smallholder producers, and entrepreneurs.

In taking up the call to action of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Alliance also promotes the contributions of co-operative enterprises to the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), showcasing the work of co-operatives through Co-ops for 2030, a platform for co-operatives to learn about the SDGs, make pledges to achieve them and report their progress.

How do co-operatives advance the SDGs? Here are a few examples:

  • Poverty eradication and zero hunger: Co-operatives allow people to help themselves by creating their own economic opportunities.
  • Food security: Agriculture co-operatives help their smallholder producer-members access inputs, infrastructure, markets, better prices, training and technologies, through the power of the collective.
  • Gender equality: With open and voluntary membership as one their founding principles, co-operatives help women access resources and opportunities by expanding their participation in local and national economies.
  • Decent work and economic growth: Being focused on human needs, co-operatives have proven to be resilient, and even recorded growth, in times of crisis. They are also a source of decent employment for many people around the world and increase inclusion of marginalized groups, such as youth and indigenous people, in the global workforce.
  • Combating climate change: Co-operative enterprises have a unique member-owned model that allows them to make long-term commitments to fighting against climate change and its impacts. Co-operatives put people at the heart of their action, which fosters the buy-in for the personal sacrifices that climate change will require. This results in sustainable natural resource management and active engagement in sustainable energy options.

Want more details about our advocacy work? Contact Rodrigo Gouveia, Director of Policy, at gouveia [at] ica [dot] coop or view our policy related news and publications.