On 2 July, co-operatives from across the world will be celebrating the International Day of Co-operatives. International Co-operative Day is an annual celebration of the co-operative movement observed on the first Saturday in July since 1923 by the International Co-operative Alliance. The United Nations General Assembly on December 16, 1992 proclaimed in resolution 47/90 “the first Saturday of July 1995 to be International Day of Co-operatives, marking the centenary of the establishment of the International Cooperative Alliance.” The International Co-operative Alliance is an independent, non-governmental organization established in 1895 to unite, represent and serve cooperatives worldwide. At the same time, a co-operative is an autonomous association of persons who voluntarily cooperate for their mutual, social, economic, and cultural benefit. The cooperative movement has been fueled globally by ideas of economic democracy. According to the International Co-operative Alliance co-operatives play a pivotal role in responding to local community needs and objectives as a model of business based on ethical values and principles whose goal it is to provide for the needs and aspirations of their members.
As many international holidays announced by the UN, International Co-operative Day has different themes every year. This year the day seeks to showcase the contribution of co-operatives to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030. The theme of 2016 is “Cooperatives: The power to act for a sustainable future”, fits into the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted in September 2015. Cooperatives are highly relevant and important in the realization of the proposed sustainable development goals. UN official page explains:
“The co-operative movement presents a unique combination of global reach and needs-based business conduct. Play an important role in poverty reduction by widening ownership and by giving people a voice, both inside their organizations and in society as a whole.”
Moreover, The Guardian sees the role of co-operatives even wider: “The role of co-operatives in sustainable development is nowhere more relevant than in relation to food, now one of the most pressing global policy concerns. Of all the sectors, it is in farming and agriculture where the co-operative business model is most widely utilised. Whatever solutions the world devises to feed its growing population, co-operatives will need to be engaged and participating as key players.”
The Alliance and the International Labour Organization (ILO) have launched an initiative on the contribution of co-operatives to sustainable development in order to bring co-operative voices into the discussion around the post-2015 development agenda. Organization prepared a brief that summarizes the main findings of a forthcoming report of the same title, by Frederick O. Wanyama of Maseno University in Kenya.
“On the 2016 Day let us speak out loud, on the value of co-operatives’ unique approach to sustainable economic, social and environmental development.” – the International Co-operative Alliance emphases as aim of this day is to increase awareness on co-operatives and promote promote the movement’s successes and ideals of international solidarity, economic efficiency, equality, and world peace.