Raiffeisen and Schulze-Delitzsch Society gives the ICA the original UNESCO inscription of cooperatives

27 Jan 2022

Those visiting the ICA headquarters in Brussels will be able to see the official copy of the original inscription of the Idea and Practice of Organizing Shared Interests into Cooperatives on the UNESCO List of the intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. In a generous act of cooperation, the German Friedrich-Wilhelm-Raiffeisen (FWR) Society has gifted to the International Cooperative Alliance with this historic document. The Inscription contributes to ensuring better visibility and awareness of the significance of cooperation and to encourage dialogues which respect cultural diversity.

How the cooperative idea entered in the UNESCO list?

The application for the inscription was made jointly by Raiffeisen and Schulze-Delitzsch Society and the certificate was received by their representatives in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 30 November 2016. The UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage is ratified by around 180 States and is enforced to safeguard and to provide for international cooperation and assistance at the local, national and international levels of the importance of the intangible cultural heritage, and of ensuring mutual appreciation thereof. The recognition further affirms the value of the local roots and global character of the cooperative idea and practice that are based on the universal values and principles. Simple-living and high-thinking is part of the cooperative way of life.

Thomas Mende, Board Member of the FWR Society and Vice President DZ Bank, in his statement during a parallel session at the World Cooperative Congress explained that although the inscription was realised upon the proposal of the Federal Republic of Germany, the decision of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee to recognise cooperatives as an intangible heritage, extended cooperatives worldwide, as well as to all humanity. While sharing the official copy, Dr. Mende reminded us that the general public as well as their political representatives must be made aware of the social and cultural functions of the cooperative idea and practice. 

Ariel Guarco and Bruno Roelants, President and Director General of the respectively have expressed their gratitude to Mende and to the Raiffeisen Society, the Schultze-Delitzcsh society as well as the whole German cooperative movement, for their work on the UNESCO inscription, which went to the heart of the cooperative identity as an international reality, and, as such, they said, the recognition was a huge contribution to the cooperative movement worldwide. 

Read about the history of the German cooperative movement included in the publication ‘Understanding our History for a Better Future’ released by the ICA at the occasion of the 33rdWorld Cooperative Congress – here (page 47).