The International Year of Cooperatives

The United Nations General Assembly has passed a resolution, proclaiming the year 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives (IYC).  The United States is joining countries around the world to celebrate the benefits cooperatives deliver to the communities that they serve. 

The theme of the International Year of Cooperatives is “Cooperative Enterprises Build a Better World.”  The UN resolution recognizes that the co-operative business model is a major factor of economic and social development, promoting the fullest possible participation in the economic and social development of people in both the developed and developing world, and that, in particular, cooperatives contribute to the eradication of poverty. The resolution also encourages all governments to create a more supportive environment for co-operative development, particularly when it comes to securing finances for capacity-building.

Worldwide, over 800 million people are members of cooperatives.   The economic activity of the largest 300 cooperatives in the world equals the 10th largest national economy. What sets the cooperative model apart from others is that all co-operatives, whether they are small farmers or large consumer-owned entities, share the values of democracy, solidarity, equality, self-help and self responsibility, creating businesses that serve the greater good as opposed to maximizing profit for the very few.

The International Year offers the cooperative community offers an unparalleled opportunity to promote co-ops, to raise public awareness of the contribution they make to social and economic development and to promote the formation and growth of cooperatives.