UN calls for Co-op Youth Statement support

04 Dec 2012

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Young co-operators are asking people to pledge their support to the UN International Cooperative Youth Statement presented at the UN's International Year of Co-operatives closing ceremony on 20 November.

The Youth Statement, created with the help of young co-operators from around the world, focuses on how co-ops can empower, employ and engage young people. It will be used to inform policy dialogue and to create a UN International Action Plan on Co-operative Development beyond 2012.

By filling in a survey created by the UN; young co-operators can become a signatory to the statement or people of all ages can choose to support and promote young people’s engagement in co-operatives. Everyone is welcome to join a Facebook forum to discuss how the statement should be targeted.

The statement explains: “Youth have long been disproportionately affected by issues of unemployment, underemployment, disempowerment and disengagement, and in the current global economic environment, the challenges are magnified.”

“We thus strongly encourage the engagement of young people with cooperatives as a viable and promising option for their transition to full economic, social and civic participation.”

Co-ops give young people the opportunity to secure and increase their income, become self motivated and develop self-employment and leadership skills, says the statement. However, it adds: “Despite these real and potential benefits, we are conscious that many hurdles exist that inhibit the ability of youth to engage effectively with co-operatives and vice versa.”

There are still challenges to overcome, including a “lack of comprehensive evidence base” on the impact and outcomes of the co-operatives model, much of which is based on “limited, anecdotal evidence".

It argues that there is a “lack of awareness and understanding” and this includes parents, teachers and other key players in youth development. And that there is a “lack of dialogue and mechanisms for effective youth employment”.

To overcome the challenges, the Youth Movement urge organisations to work together and encourage governments to use “youth specific language in the proposed International Plan of Action on Cooperatives.”

Finally, it states: “We call upon the co-operative community, governments, international organisations, educational institutions, civil-society and the media to deploy resources in order to enact communication strategies that include education and research, which are adapted to and accommodate the needs of young people.”

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