High-level event at UN discusses how co-operatives can help reduce poverty

05 Feb 2018

How do co-operatives eradicate poverty and what governments and the international community can do to help them flourish? On 1st of February, more than 40 guests representing UN agencies, Member States, member organisations from the Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives (COPAC) and co-operatives answered to this questions in a high-level event at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. It was organized in the framework of the 56th session of the Commission for Social Development. The Commission is the advisory body responsible for the social development pillar of global development.

At the event, Ariel Guarco, President of the International Co-operative Alliance, gave an overview of the size and scale of the co-operative movement representing 1,2 billion people from any of the 2.94 million co-operatives worldwide and illustrated how co-operatives have been, historically and in the present, vehicles to lift individuals out of poverty. In a full room of ambassadors and representatives of UN Agencies, he stated that “co-operatives bring people together in a democratic and equal way. They allow people to take control of their economic future and, because they are not owned by shareholders, the economic and social benefits of their activity stay in the communities where they are established”.

Mr. Guarco added that “despite the good work that co-operatives are doing in many countries, there are still many challenges that need to be addressed”, and invited governments to work with cooperatives at national, regional and international levels to address them. He also recalled that the Alliance set-up the Coops for 2030 platform to promote the work of co-operatives related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and mentioned examples of pledges that co-operatives around the world are taking to implement them. There have been 300 pledges from 100 co-operatives in 40 countries so far.

His message was supported and reinforced by the ambassadors of the several countries present, who also had the opportunity to illustrate how co-operatives, in their countries, have been fundamental to the development of the economy and society and, in many ways, have been a key economic model to alleviate poverty. Sukhbold Sukhee, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Mongolia to the UN called on his colleagues “to work together for the promotion of co-operatives in the UN, particularly in matters related to sustainable development and the SDGs”.

The event was co-organized by the Mission of Mongolia to the UN and the Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Co-operatives (COPAC) and counted with the participation of Vinicius Pinheiro, Director of the ILO office in New York, Carla Mucavi, Director of the FAO office in New York, and Daniela Bas, Director for Social Policy in UNDESA, who described the human focus of co-operatives and the UN’s increasing support for the co-operative movement.

From the cooperative movement, besides Ariel Guarco, were present Nandini Azad, President of the Indian Co-operative Network for Women (ICNW), Lamont Spence, Director of Workforce Development and Iris Negron, Director of Human Resources of Co-operative Home Care Associates (CHCA), and John Mulangeni Nkosi, Project Manager of the Co-operative College of Malawi.

The theme for the 2018 International Day of Co-operatives was unveiled at this occasion. It will revolve around "Sustainable consumption and production of goods and services" giving an opportunity for co-operatives to show how they run successful businesses while respecting our natural environment and the resources it offers. With this theme in mind, co-operators from around the world are invited to participate in selecting the #CoopsDay slogan. Until noon on the 8th of February (UTC−5), Twitter users can vote for one of three potential slogans:

1. Sustainable societies through co-operation

2. Choose a co-op: for a greener planet, for a common future, for a better world

3. Choose co-op: Together for the planet

Want to help pick the #CoopsDay slogan? Cast your vote here

The 2018 International Day of Cooperatives will be celebrated on the 7th of July. For more information visit our website

For more details, please consult the programme for the luncheon and read the COPAC article here

Caption: President Ariel Guarco and his Excellency Mr. Sukhbold Sukhee, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Permanent Representative of Mongolia to the United Nations

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