Message of the International Co-operative Alliance

92nd Alliance International Co-operative Day
20th UN International Day of Co-operatives
5th July 2014
“Co-operative enterprises achieve sustainable development for all.”
This year, International Co-operative Day, to be celebrated on 5 July, will have the
theme of “Co-operative enterprises achieve sustainable development for all.” Concern
for the community is one of the co-operative movement’s founding values and, as
such, the need to sustainably safeguard favourable living conditions for communities
underpins all co-operatives’ operations and vision.
In a general sense, sustainability is the capacity to support, maintain or endure. Since
the 1980s, the concept of sustainability has evolved to mean the integration of
environmental, economic and social dimensions. Co-operatives here again are the
forerunners of modern sustainability. By placing human need at their centre, they
respond to today’s crises of sustainability and deliver a distinctive form of “shared
One of the goals of the Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade is to “position cooperatives
as builders of sustainability.”1 The co-operative sector needs to explain and
show to the world that sustainability is part of its intrinsic nature, and that cooperative
enterprises make a positive contribution to sustainability.
As part of this, the Alliance commissioned a scan of co-operatives from different
sectors and regions around the world to see how closely linked they are to
sustainability. Launched at our global conference in Cape Town in November 2013, the
report concluded that co-operatives embed sustainability into their operating model
and values, and that the United Nations can and should recognise this. Indeed, in a
resolution adopted in December 2001, the UN urged governments to encourage and
facilitate “the establishment and development of co-operatives, including taking
measures aimed at enabling people living in poverty or belonging to vulnerable groups
to engage on a voluntary basis in the creation and development of co-operatives”.2
The United Nations is currently setting ambitious new targets for the period after 2015
and these will be called the Sustainable Development Goals. The co-operative
movement touches one billion people worldwide and through our vision of sustainable
development for all, we can be key partners in this.
We would like to urge co-operatives around the world to use 5 July to showcase how
co-operatives are the best-placed enterprise model to develop and build sustainability
in the 21st century.


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