ILO webinar presents updates on initiatives concerning statistics of cooperatives and the SSE

19 Dec 2023

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) hosted an online workshop on 14 December to discuss the latest updates on statistics of cooperatives and the social and solidarity economy (SSE), including the feasibility of the Guidelines concerning Statistics of Cooperatives in five pilot countries and the establishment of a UN technical working group on the SSE.

During the workshop, the speakers shared highlights from two previous sessions on statistics of cooperatives and statistics of the SSE at the 21st International Conference of Labour Statisticians (ICLS)  in October 2023. The first part of the webinar featured the findings from the ILO initiative on statistics of cooperatives, which tested the feasibility of the Guidelines concerning Statistics of Cooperatives in five pilot countries. The second part of the webinar presented a roadmap toward guidelines concerning statistics of the SSE, based on a document presented and discussed at the International Conference of Labour Statisticians.

The workshop started with an overview by Simel Esim, the Head of the ILO COOP Unit, who explained how measuring the SSE has been gaining momentum in recent years. The ILO seeks to assist in improving statistics on SSE working in collaboration with national statistics offices, she said. One of the next steps for the ILO COOP Unit will be the establishment of a UN Task Force, a technical working group on the SSE.

Participants then heard from David Hunter, statistician and Managing Director of StatClass Consulting Services and Professor Marie J. Bouchard, a former Chair of COPAC Technical Working Group on Statistics of Cooperatives.

Mr Hunter presented an update on the progress of the ILO initiative on the applicability and implementation of the Guidelines concerning Statistics of Cooperatives in five countries, namely Costa Rica, Italy, the Republic of Korea, Tanzania, and Türkiye.

The next steps for the initiative include deepening national action plans and establishing a working group to develop indicators to measure the economic and social contributions of cooperatives. Mr  Hunter added that an ILO manual on statistics of cooperatives would be developed in modular form and presented at the 22nd ICLS in 2028. The manual will provide practical guidance as needed by those wishing to collect and compile statistics in line with the Guidelines.

Prof Bouchard pointed out that statistics concerning the SSE as a whole are unevenly developed and the way statistics on SSE are produced varies a lot depending on regions and countries. Another challenge is that existing data are scarce, incomplete and difficult to aggregate and compare. With guidance from ICLS, the ILO can work towards proposing guidelines for statistics concerning the SSE, she added. There is also a plan to create a UNTFSSE technical working group chaired by ILO COOP to support the milestones of the roadmap toward the elaboration of a statistical definition for the SSE.

The webinar also featured contributions from representatives of some of the five pilot countries and various international organisations doing work around statistics on cooperatives or the SSE: Seonghoon Park, from the Republic of Korea; Chiara Carini, from Euricse based in Italy; Melih Toprak from the Turkish Ministry of Trade; Melis Aslan from the OECD; Ilcheong Yi from UNRISD; and Hyungsik Eum, ICA Research Director.

Mr Eum said the ICA has been working with the ILO on this topic for more than 10 years, supporting the implementation of these guidelines in the cooperative movement. 

“The statistics issue needs to be addressed by national governments but if there are no government initiatives then the cooperative movement and individual researchers can start first,” he said. So the ICA uses the typology in the ILO Guidelines in its work as well, including the World Cooperative Monitor, which it co-produces with Euricse.

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