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The COVID-19 pandemic and climate emergency have both revealed the fragility of our societies and our planet. These dual crises are disproportionately affecting the world’s most vulnerable countries and people, and deepening many social and economic rifts. They also make clear the need to strengthen global cooperation and solidarity.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres

Let's cooperate and invite everyone to fight for climate action

No country is immune from it. Greenhouse gas emissions are more than 50 percent higher than it was in 1990, and global warming is causing long-lasting changes to our climate system which threatens irreversible consequences if we do not act. Cooperatives for Climate Action was chosen as this year's theme to address this, and to support Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13 on Climate Action. Climate change severely impacts people’s livelihoods around the world, especially the most disadvantaged groups such as small-scale farmers, women, youth, indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities, who have to cope with extreme natural disasters and degradation of natural resources. This year we will focus on the contribution of cooperatives to combating climate change.

The International Day of Cooperatives is an annual celebration of the cooperative movement that takes place on the first Saturday of July since 1923. Since 1995, the United Nations and the International Cooperative Alliance have been setting the theme for the celebration of the Day. The aim of this celebration is to increase awareness of cooperatives. The event underscores the contributions of the cooperative movement to resolving the major problems addressed by the United Nations and to strengthening and extending the partnerships between the international cooperative movement and other actors.

Read on to see what we’re doing: Join us. Share. Spread the word! #Coops4ClimateAction.

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Brief History

The earliest record of a co-operative comes from Scotland in March 14 1761. In 1844 a group of 28 artisans working in the cotton mills in north of England established the first modern co-operative business.

Background

The Co-operatives Movement

Co-operatives have been acknowledged as associations and enterprises through which citizens can effectively improve their lives while contributing to the economic, social, cultural and political advancement of their community and nation. The co-operative movement has been also recognized as a distinct and major stakeholder in both national and international affairs.

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.

The cooperative movement is highly democratic, locally autonomous, but internationally integrated, and a form of organization of associations and enterprises whereby citizens themselves rely on self-help and their own responsibility to meet goals that include not only economic, but also social and environmental objectives, such as overcoming poverty, securing productive employment and encouraging social integration.

Facts & Figures

  • More than 12% of humanity is part of any of the 3 million cooperatives in the world;
  • The largest 300 cooperatives and mutuals report a total turnover of 2,034.98 billion USD;
  • Cooperatives employ 280 million people across the globe (10% of the world’s employed population).

2020 Official Logo

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Events

Hundreds of cooperative events occur annually around the world. Check the full list of Upcoming Events in the period 2020-2021.

logo of ICA for 125 anniversary

The International Cooperative Alliance unites, represents and serves cooperatives worldwide. Founded in 1895, it is one of the oldest non-governmental organizations and one of the largest ones measured by the number of people represented: 1,2 billion cooperative members on the planet. The Alliance works with global and regional governments and organizations to create the legislative environments that allow cooperatives to form and grow. More>>

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  • Voluntary and Open Membership
  •  Democratic Member Control
  •  Member Economic Participation
  •  Autonomy and Independence
  •  Education, Training, and Information
  • Cooperation among Cooperatives
  • Concern for Community

International days are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool. We also mark other UN observances.