Honorable Park Won-soon, Mayor of Seoul Metropolitan City,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am pleased to join with all of you in celebrating Korean Cooperatives Week – and the International Day of Cooperatives.
I know that you are working hard to fulfill the vision of Seoul as a “City of Cooperatives” and I wish you all the best in this important effort.
* * *
Today we celebrate how cooperatives build a better world.
Cooperatives advance sustainable development and social integration.
They create jobs, empower their members and strengthen communities.
They promote food security and enhance opportunities for small agricultural producers.
They are better tuned to local needs.
By pooling resources, they improve access to information, finance and technology.
And their underlying values of self-help, equality and solidarity offer a guidepost in challenging economic times.
Cooperatives are also critical in supporting indigenous communities, and in offering productive employment opportunities for women, youth, persons with disabilities, older persons and others who face discrimination and marginalization.
The global financial and economic crisis has also demonstrated the resilience of alternative financial institutions such as credit unions and cooperative banks.
In this International Year of Cooperatives, I encourage all stakeholders to continue building awareness and pursuing policies to strengthen cooperatives everywhere. By contributing to human dignity and global solidarity, cooperatives truly do “build a better world.”