The United Nations is to officially launch the International Year of Co-operatives at its New York City headquarters on Monday.
Members of states from around the world will hear about the co-operative movement throughout the day to encourage as many countries as possible to support the year.
The events begin with a roundtable discussion involving some of the world’s co-operative leaders, Maria Aranzazu Laskurain, Secretary General of Mondragon; LiChengyu, President of the All China Federation of Supply and Marketing Co-operatives and Piet Moerland, Chairman of Rabobank.
After the roundtable, International Co-operative Alliance President Dame Pauline Green will deliver an address to the United Nations General Assembly, which will be live streamed on this website from 3pm (Eastern Standard Time / 7pm UK / Tuesday 6am Sydney). In her speech, she will emphasise the important role that co-operatives play in global sustainable development and financial stability.
Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will also pledge his support for co-operatives in an address to the Assembly. Mr Brown, a supporter of credit unions and the co-operative model, was also the first serving Prime Minister to be a member of the Co-operative Party in the British Parliament.
Dr. Asha-Rose Migiro will speak on behalf on the UN’s Secretary-General, alongside Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, President of the General Assembly.
More than 150 CEOs and Presidents of some of the world’s largest co-operatives will gather for the launch and to consider how to create the conditions that ignite the growth of co-operative enterprise throughout the decade.
Throughout the morning the roundtable discussions will consider how ‘Co-operative Enterprises Build a Better World’, which is the theme of the International Year. The round-table will discuss the impact of co-operatives in development with specific focus on food security, financial and economic stability, and environmental sustainability, while highlighting the uniqueness and resilience of the co-operative enterprise model as driving their strong role in these areas.
It will also touch on their role in peacebuilding and creating bridges of communication in areas of conflict and discuss the roles of stakeholders in developing the internal capacity and policy space for strengthening co-operatives.
Dame Pauline said: “What’s ironic about co-operatives is that they are everywhere. They are part of everyone’s daily life, but until you stop and look at their scope and effectiveness you don’t realize that this values-based business model is what people have been yearning for and what governments need in order to support and solve many of these international crises that we face today.
“In these economic hard times when financial institutions are failing, credit unions and banking co-operatives have been able to weather the storms. For the world’s economies and the public that invests their money, this is of critical importance.”
The day will also see the launch of the latest Global 300 report, prepared by the ICA, which will show the world’s largest 300 co-operatives generate revenues of USD 1.6 trillion —equal to the GDP of the world’s ninth largest economy.
On the following day, leaders of some of the world’s largest co-operatives will meet at the ICA Leadership Forum in New York to identify the conditions needed to incite dramatic growth and make co-operativeenterprise the fastest-growing business model by the end of the decade. Hosted by Dame Pauline, delegates will receive keynote presentations from Peter Marks, CEO of the Co-operative Group, UK and Monique Leroux, President and CEO of Desjardins Group, Canada.
In conversation with Co-operatives UK, Dame Pauline also shared her excitement about the event. In a video, she said: “I’m hugely excited, that place that has seen so many great speakers, so many hugely important events. Crucial issues being solved. To be standing there in that room that has such significance after the last war and to be able to speak in that place is something that is massively emotional and a powerful thing to do. Thank you to the co-op movement for giving me the chance.
“The significance of going to the General Assembly and speaking at the podium is tremendous. It’s a great personal privilege for me, but I’m very conscious that I’m representing the worldwide movement. Putting forward the case for co-operation. It’s a huge opportunity.”