At a time when income inequality is rising around the world, it is good to be reminded that solutions to inequality do exist. The co-operative model is foremost among these solutions, since it contains aspects of sustainable development at its core and is based on ethical values and principles.

2017 theme: Co-operatives ensure no-one is left behind

Co-operatives' open membership model affords access to wealth creation and poverty elimination. This results from the co-operative principle of members' economic participation: 'Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their co-operative.' Because co-operatives are people-centred, not capital-centred , they do not perpetuate, nor accelerate capital concentration and they distribute wealth in a more fair way.

Co-operatives also foster external equality. As they are community-based, they are committed to the sustainable development of their communities - environmentally, socially and economically. This commitment can be seen in their support for community activities, local sourcing of supplies to benefit the local economy, and in decision-making that considers the impact on their communities.

Despite their local community focus, co-operatives also aspire to bring the benefits of their economic and social model to all people in the world. Globalization should be governed by a set of values such as those of the co-operative movement; otherwise, it creates more inequality and excesses that render it unsustainable.