Over one billion people are members of cooperatives, a serious enterprise model that puts people at the heart of all business. Owned and controlled by the members they serve, they are great tools for empowering people. Today, the International Year of Cooperatives 2012 was officially launched at UN Headquarters in New York, setting off initiatives and events across the globe.
With the theme “Cooperative Enterprises Build a Better World“, the International Year of Cooperatives seeks to promote growth and the creation of cooperatives worldwide. It will also encourage individuals, communities and governments to acknowledge the role cooperatives play in helping to achieve internationally agreed upon development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.
Events were kicked off today by the UN General Assembly marking the start of the year highlighting the role of cooperatives around the world. To enable interactive discussions among various stakeholders, a roundtable discussion was held on the theme “Cooperative Enterprises Build a Better World: Contributions to Sustainable Development”.
“Cooperatives improve opportunities for income generation, help diversify economic activities and increase productivity in low-income and poor communities. In particular, they assist with the provision of financial and technical assistance,” said Sha Zukang, DESA’s Under-Secretary-General, in his opening statement at this event.
Mr. Sha, who is also the Secretary-General of Rio+20, highlighted the role cooperatives play for the environment. “One of the two themes of Rio+20 is a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication. Cooperatives have an important role to play in the transition to a green economy. They offer a business model with comparative advantage in creating socially inclusive… and environmentally sound… economic practices,” he said.
The official ceremony was thereafter held in the General Assembly Hall including remarks by the President of the General Assembly Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Gordon Brown.
Following today’s events, prepared by UN DESA in collaboration with the Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives, the spotlight will remain on the invaluable involvement of cooperatives worldwide, putting people at the heart of business.