Cooperatives raise their voice at the 60th session of the United Nations Commission for Social Development

17 Feb 2022

Cooperatives were represented at the 60th session of the United Nations Commission for Social Development where the ICA was represented  by ICA President Guarco and submitted a statement highlighting the role of cooperatives in driving an inclusive and resilient recovery from COVID-19.

Mr Guarco’s session also featured high-level presentations by global leaders such as Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Esther Penunia, Secretary General of the Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA), Elsa Marie D’Silva, President of Red Dot Foundation Global, and Juan Carr, Social Entrepreneur and the Founder of Red Solidaria.

Addressing the UN forum, which was held virtually, ICA President Guarco said cooperatives form the world’s largest network of enterprises with a common identity based on joint values and principles. He added that extreme poverty and hunger had only been exacerbated by the pandemic.

According to UN figures, extreme poverty will affect 64 million more people in the coming months than in 2019. Meanwhile, the International Labour Organization estimates that more than 130 million jobs have been lost since 2019.

Throughout the crisis cooperatives continued to serve their communities, said Mr Guarco, and should be promoted to drive inclusivity and resilience.

“Cooperatives have made a great effort in these months to sustain the supply of services and basic goods for the life of companies, homes and communities in general,” he said.

“Starting with health cooperatives, which are on the front line of the battle against Covid, and continuing with all those dedicated to agro-industrial production, public services, telecommunications, consumers, associated work, housing, and many others that showed, once again, the resilience of this model of economic and social organisation in times of crisis.”

The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres recognised the importance of co-ops as key economic and social actors in the global recovery strategy in his 2021 Report on Cooperatives and Social Development. The ILO Recommendation 193 on the Promotion of Cooperatives also encourages governments to promote the potential of cooperatives in all countries, irrespective of their level of development.

Mr Guarco noted that despite their positive contributions cooperatives continue to face certain barriers, such as the lack of adequate legal and regulatory frameworks in some countries.

“We are convinced that we will not be able to reverse poverty and hunger if we do not adopt a cooperative paradigm that ensures economic growth with decent work, gender equality and care for ecosystems, among other conditions,” he added

“We invite all the actors that are part of these conferences, civil society organisations, academics, governments and the United Nations Commission for Social Development, to continue working together to come out of this crisis better than we entered it and to rebuild this World together and make this world a place where we can all live with dignity.” 

The event heard from 40 panellists including, Maria del Carmen Squeff, Chair of the sixtieth session of the Commission for Social Development; Abdulla Shahid, President of the General Assembly; Collen Vixen Kelapile, President of the Economic and Social Council; Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations; Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA); Qu Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

ICA Statement

On this occasion the ICA also presented a statement to the sixteenth session of the UN Commission for Social Development the in which it highlighted the potential of cooperatives to facilitate a just and fair transition and overcome the Covid-19 crisis.

The ICA calls on governments to implement the recommendations of the 2021 Report of the UN Secretary General on Cooperatives in Social Development and to take further action to accelerate their commitment in realising the 2030 Agenda and a new social contract. The document was elaborated thanks to the contributions of regional and sectorial organisations of the ICA. 

The full statement is available here.

What is the  60th session of the United Nations Commission for Social Development discussing? 

The 60th session of the UN Commission on Social Development is taking place online from 7 to 16 February 2022. The Commission is the UN’s advisory body responsible for the social development pillar of global development.

The 60th session will focus on how to achieve an inclusive and resilient recovery from COVID-19 for sustainable livelihoods, well-being and dignity for all. Panellists will also discuss some of the challenges to getting on track towards the full implementation of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.