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Cooperatives and the

Sustainable Development Goals

A Contribution to the Post-2015 Development Debate
A Policy Brief

The International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) is an independent, non-governmental
organization established in 1895 to unite, represent and serve cooperatives worldwide. It
provides a global voice and forum for knowledge, expertise and coordinated action for and
about cooperatives. Alliance members are international and national cooperative organizations
from all sectors of the economy, including agriculture, industry, services, banking, retail,
fisheries, health, housing, and insurance. The Alliance has members from one hundred
countries, representing one billion individuals worldwide.

The International Labour Organization (ILO), a specialised agency of the United Nations,
aims to promote rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities, enhance social
protection and strengthen dialogue on work-related issues. The ILO views cooperatives as
important in improving the living and working conditions of women and men globally as
well as making essential infrastructure and services available even in areas neglected by the
state and investor-driven enterprises. The Cooperatives Unit of the ILO serves ILO constituents
and cooperative organizations and collaborates with cooperative development agencies and
training institutions in four priority areas:

Raising public awareness on cooperatives through evidence

based advocacy and sensitization to cooperative values and principles;

Ensuring the competitiveness of cooperatives by developing

tailored tools to cooperative stakeholders including management training,
audit manuals and assistance programmes;

Promoting the inclusion of teaching of cooperative principles

and practices at all levels of the national education and training systems; and

Providing advice on cooperative policy and cooperative law,

including participatory policy and law making and the impact on coopera-
tives of taxation policies, labour law, accounting standards, and competition
law among others.
Part One
COOPERATIVES AND THE POST-2015 DEBATE..........................................................................4

Part Two
1) Poverty Reduction ................................................................................................................6
2) Gender Equality .....................................................................................................................7
3) Quality Education and Lifelong Learning .....................................................................8
4) Health ........................................................................................................................................8
5) Food Security and Good Nutrition .................................................................................9
6) Access to Water and Sanitation ...................................................................................... 10
7) Sustainable Energy .............................................................................................................. 10
8) Employment Creation, Livelihoods and Equitable Growth ...................................11
9) Sustainable Natural Resource Management ...............................................................12
10) Good Governance ............................................................................................................... 13
11) Promotion of Stable and Peaceful Societies ................................................................14
12) Cooperatives and Global Enabling Environment and Long-term Finance........15

Part Three
COOPERATIVES HAVE A KEY ROLE TO PLAY .........................................................................16

Endnotes .................................................................................................................................................18
Further Reading .....................................................................................................................................19

As we approach the Millennium Development

Cooperative Principles
Goals (MDGs) target date of 2015, global, regional,
national and online thematic consultations have
been taking place to frame the post-2015 global 1. Voluntary and Open Membership
development agenda. A consensus on goals, targets 2. Democratic Member Control
and indicators for sustainable development will 3. Members Economic Participation
have to be reached before the end of 2015. The big 4. Autonomy and Independence
questions revolve around the ways the international 5. Education, Training and Information
community will respond to the pressing issues of 6. Cooperation among Cooperatives
economic development, environmental protection 7. Concern for Community
and social equity in a sustainable manner.
In total, about one billion people are involved in
cooperatives in some way, either as members/
Hence, cooperatives are well-placed to contribute
customers, as employees/participants, or both.
to sustainable developments triple bottom line of
Cooperatives employ at least 100 million people
economic, social and environmental objectives plus
worldwide. It has been estimated that the
the governance agenda, not least because they are
livelihoods of nearly half the worlds population
enterprises that endeavour to meet the economic
are secured by cooperative enterprises. The worlds
progress of members while satisfying their socio-
300 largest cooperative enterprises have collective
cultural interests and protecting the environment.
revenues of USD 1.6 trillion, which are comparable
They offer an alternative model for social enterprise,
to the GDP of the worlds ninth largest economy-
with contributions to sustainable development well
beyond job creation. Since cooperatives share in
As value-based and principle driven organizations, GDP and total enterprises is currently relatively small
cooperative enterprises are by nature a sustainable in most countries, their promotion and expansion
and participatory form of business. They place could be an important instrument for achieving the
emphasis on job security and improved working Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
conditions, pay competitive wages, promote
This brief highlights the contribution of
additional income through profit-sharing and
cooperatives to sustainable development and
distribution of dividends, and support community
stimulates discussion on the role of cooperatives
facilities and services such as health clinics and
in the design and implementation of the SDGs that
schools. Cooperatives foster democratic knowledge
will succeed the Millennium Development Goals.
and practices and social inclusion. They have also
shown resilience in the face of the economic and
financial crises.

The detailed content of the SDGs is already
being discussed and debated by international What is a cooperative?
organizations, states and civil society organizations;
yet cooperatives themselves have only recently A cooperative is defined as an autonomous
become active. Consequently, the voices of association of people united voluntarily to
cooperatives and the cooperative movement meet their common economic, social and
as a whole are not being heard clearly and their cultural needs and aspirations through
involvement in the process of developing SDGs has jointly-owned and democratically-controlled
not reached its full potential. This is in spite of the fact enterprises.
that the 2012 Rio+20 United Nations Conference on
Sustainable Development recognized the potential Source: ILO (2002), Recommendation 193 Concerning the
Promotion of Cooperatives, Geneva: ILO (Available at: http://www.
role of cooperatives in the realization of sustainable


One possible reason for the invisibility of the While more than half the respondents in an ILO
cooperative option in the debate is a lack of survey of the cooperative movement indicated
understanding of the actual and potential that they have participated in the post-2015
contribution of cooperatives to sustainable consultations, the involvement of cooperatives in
development, partly due to the disparate the design of the post-2015 development agenda
nature of literature on this subject. This review has been hampered for a variety of reasons.
is an attempt to begin to fill this gap.
The full report shows that though cooperatives One reason reported is that cooperatives
tend to be more preoccupied with local issues
were not actively engaged in the design and than the national, regional and international
implementation of MDGs, they made significant ones. Since their basic concern is to serve
contributions to the realization of these goals. their members individual and communal
Since the post-2015 development agenda concerns, their voice and presence tends to
substantially builds on the gains of MDGs, the fade with any focus towards the national,
contribution of cooperatives to such gains regional and international scenes.
reaffirms their relevance in the on-going debate
on the post-2015 development agenda. This is Another important reason given however,
was that the cooperative movement was
not just in the interest of continuity, but also not invited to or included in the post-2015
for the sake of sharing experiences learned in development agenda consultations, or
the process of working towards the realization did not know about them.3 More recently,
of MDGs that may help avoid past mistakes in international cooperative and mutual
designing the future development agenda. movement leaders have been more actively
Cooperatives and the cooperative movement engaging in the UN processes around the
post-2015 development framework.
have a wealth of experiences to share that will
help the design and implementation of the

With more active and strategic involvement of the cooperative movement globally, there are
opportunities to make cooperative issues acknowledged, and their voices heard in the post-2015
debate, and reflected in the SDGs.

Povert y r eduction
Cooperatives are highly relevant and important
in the realization of the proposed sustainable There is a widely held consensus among many
development goals. actors, including the United Nations (UN), the
International Labour Organization (ILO), and
This brief highlights the actual contribution of
the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA),
cooperatives to the twelve SDGs proposed by the
that the cooperative enterprise is the type of
High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons in the Post-
organization that is most suited to addressing all
2015 Development Agenda in their report of 2013.
dimensions of reducing poverty and exclusion.
Though the specific goals, targets and indicators
The way cooperatives help reduce poverty is
will not be agreed upon until September 2015 as
important - they identify economic opportunities
part of the ongoing process, these twelve proposed
for their members; empower the disadvantaged
goals reflect the range of themes that will likely be
to defend their interests; provide security to the
covered by the SDGs.
poor by allowing them to convert individual
The Illustrative Sustainable Development risks into collective risks; and mediate member
Goals, as proposed by the High-level access to assets that they utilize to earn a living.
Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post- For instance, while savings and credit cooperatives
2015 Development Agenda (SACCOs) facilitate their members access to
financial capital, agricultural cooperatives help
1. End poverty
farmers access the inputs required to grow crops
2. Empower girls and women and achieve gender
and keep livestock, and help them process,
3. Provide quality education and lifelong learning
transport and market their produce. Similarly,
4. Ensure healthy lives consumer cooperatives make it possible for their
5. Ensure food security and good nutrition members and the society at large to access good
6. Achieve universal access to water and sanitation quality household supplies like food, clothing, and
7. Secure sustainable energy other products at affordable prices. Such services
8. Create jobs, sustainable livelihoods and help pull members out of poverty.
equitable growth
9. Manage natural resource assets sustainably Agricultural cooperatives are well recognized
10. Ensure good governance and effective for their poverty reduction efforts: In Tanzania,
institutions improved cooperative marketing of agricultural
11. Ensure stable and peaceful societies products like milk and coffee has meant that
12. Create a global enabling environment cooperative members can afford fees for education
and catalyse long-term finance of their children; in Egypt, 4 million farmers derive
income from selling agricultural produce through
Source: HLP (2013), A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty
and Transform Economies through Sustainable Development, agricultural marketing cooperatives;4 and in
New York: United Nations (Available at: http://www., Ethiopia, 900,000 people in the agricultural sector
accessed on 15th November, 2013).
are estimated to generate most of their income
through cooperatives.5

SACCOs also contribute to poverty reduction: In Womens presence on financial cooperative
Kenya, development loans have been used to buy boards in East Africa ranges from 24 per cent
land, build houses, invest in businesses and farming, (Kenya) to 65 per cent (Tanzania).9 In the occupied
and buy household furniture; in Ghana, members Palestinian territory, despite a history of low
frequently obtain loans from the University of womens participation in cooperatives, the Union of
Ghana Cooperative Credit Union to support Cooperative Associations for Savings and Credit has
informal businesses that supplement their wage a large majority of women as its members.
income; in Rwanda, members of a cooperative and
Women also form their own cooperatives. The agro-
trade union for motorcycle taxi drivers used loans
tourism womens cooperative To Kastri in Greece,
to buy their own motorcycles, instead of paying
and the Benkadi womens cooperative in Mali,
extortionate daily rental fees; and in Tanzania
formed in response to difficulties in getting good
and Sri Lanka, multi-purpose and SACCOs enable
prices on their produce and access to capital. In
members to receive small loans to support their
India, womens cooperatives offer self-employment
own self-employment through retail shopkeeping,
opportunities that can contribute to womens
farming or keeping livestock, and provide working
social inclusion and empowerment, and in the Arab
capital and loans to grow small businesses.
states, they provide a platform to expand womens
Cooperatives also contribute to poverty reduction access to economic opportunities and public life.
by providing employment, livelihoods and wide Women have also been empowered to take up
variety of services, as discussed below. leadership roles, set up their own management
committees and organize welfare activities through
Gender equalit y
cooperatives in both Tanzania and Sri Lanka.
Cooperatives are contributing towards Challenges do exist nonetheless: Women tend
gender equality by expanding womens to be marginally represented in traditional cash/
opportunities to participate in local economies export crop-related cooperatives e.g. coffee, cocoa,
and societies in many parts of the world. cotton, tobacco, in which crop ownership is mostly
In consumer cooperatives, most members are male. Women are more numerous and rising in
women, e.g. in Japan, women constitute 95 per numbers in subsectors such as fruits, spices, cereals
cent of membership and have gained a place in the and dairy, where land ownership is less critical
governance structure of their cooperatives.6 and capital requirements lower. Inlarger financial
Women are also showing a strong presence in cooperatives women tend to bein minority, while
worker cooperatives. In the Spanish Confederation in smaller saving and credit cooperatives with
of Worker Cooperatives (COCETA), 49 per cent of microfinance schemes, such as Bangladesh or
members are women, with 39 per cent having Philippines, womenare more likelyto be in majority.
directorial positions, compared with 6 per cent in Occupational gender division of labour naturally
non-worker owned enterprises.7 In Italy, 95 per cent reflects itself in cooperatives providing services
of members in the workers cooperatives in the to workers in these sectors. For instance women
fashion industry are women.8 are likely to be in majority in service cooperatives
In East Africa, womens participation in cooperatives for teachers, while majority of the members of
is rising. In the financial cooperative sector, data cooperatives serving transport workers are men.
from Tanzania indicates that womens membership Womens cooperatives in general tend to be smaller
has more than quadrupled since 2005, bringing in capital, membership and volume of business and
womens share to 43 per cent. In Uganda, womens less well-connected to cooperative movements
participation in agricultural cooperatives is and their support structures. Gender inequalities
increasing faster than mens. in literacy levels, skills, land ownership, and access
to credit and information are contributing factors
limiting womens engagement in cooperatives.

Qualit y education a nd Health
lifelong lear ning

Cooperatives support access to quality education Cooperatives ensure healthy lives by creating
and life-long learning opportunities by providing the infrastructure for delivering healthcare
the means for financing education; supporting services; financing healthcare and providing
teachers and schools; establishing their own schools home-based healthcare services to people
to provide quality education to both youth and living with HIV/AIDS, among others.
adults; and serving as centres for lifelong learning.
Healthcare cooperatives include workers
Cooperatives play a significant role in facilitating cooperatives that provide health services, patient
access to education by increasing household or community cooperatives that are user-owned,
incomes, which translates into the ability to meet and hybrid multi-stakeholder cooperatives. They
educational costs. Cooperatives can also be a direct can provide anything from homecare to full-
source of educational finance: In Kenya, for example, scale hospital care. The International Health
the main type of back office loan offered by most Cooperative Alliance estimates that there are
SACCOs is for paying school fees, and this trend more than 100 million households worldwide
has been documented similarly in other African that are served by health cooperatives.
countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, Cape Verde, and Across Canada there are more than 100 healthcare
Uganda. cooperatives providing mainly home care to more
than a million people spanning its eight provinces.
Where local governments have been unable to SaludCoop in Colombia is a healthcare cooperative,
provide school infrastructure, cooperatives have and the second largest national employer, serving
often filled the gap to build and support local 25 per cent of the population. In Japan, more than
schools. In Ghana and Ethiopia, rebates from fair 125 medical cooperatives serve nearly 3 million
trade have been used by multi-purpose cooperatives patients.10
to finance social projects, including construction of
classrooms and improving infrastructure in primary
schools. Support in other cases has included Pharmacy cooperatives give mem-
bers access to genuine and affordable
developing financial skills of youth and encouraging medicines
saving habits, scholarships to members children to
attend school and higher education, organizing In Turkey at the end of the 1970s, drug suppliers
educational competitions, funding equipment and depended on imports but wholesalers would
stationery, and maintaining libraries. only accept payments in foreign currency,
leading to many pharmacies going out of
Cooperatives are increasingly getting involved in
direct provision of quality education by setting business, rising prices, and counterfeit medicines.
up their own schools, enabling students to access The Association of Pharmacists Cooperatives
secondary education in remote areas of Tanzania, created in 1989 has enabled small pharmacies to
for example. In the UK, the Manchester-based Co- benefit from the collective purchasing power of
operative College has established democratically cooperatives to supply genuine and affordable
driven cooperative trust schools, with a strong medicines. This network of 13,000 pharmacies all
commitment to social justice and moral purpose. over Turkey provides jobs to 40,000 people and is
known for its high quality services.
Lifelong learning is provided to members through
skills training and knowledge development by Source: ILO (2012), Healing Pharmacies (Available at: http://www.
many cooperatives, as well as literacy and numeracy lang--en/index.htm, accessed on 23rd) November, 2013).
for never-schooled members.

In Sri Lanka, health cooperatives are often spin-offs Agricultural cooperatives help farmers overcome
to provide healthcare to members of consumer and these obstacles by offering their members a
agricultural cooperatives.11 In the United States, health variety of services such as group purchasing and
care cooperatives operate hospitals and clinics, marketing, input shops for collective purchases, and
such as the Group Health Cooperative of Puget warehouse receipt systems for collective access to
Sound with 650,000 members, 30 medical facilities, credit and market outlet. Cooperatives build small
and 9500 employees, including 1000 physicians.12 producers skills, provide them with knowledge and
In Nepal, cooperatives offer members primary information, and help them to innovate and adapt
health care services at a low annual family fee. to changing markets. Importantly, they facilitate
Pharmacy cooperatives in Turkey give members farmers participation in decision-making processes
access to genuine and affordable medicines. and help small producers voice their concerns and
interests, and increase their negotiating power
Financing healthcare is an important role of
to influence policy making processes. In the food
cooperatives: In the US, healthcare cooperatives
supply chain, consumer cooperatives facilitate
are among the most popular types of healthcare
access to safe food.
insurance, owned by the policyholders.
Cooperatives that do business under the fair trade Cooperatives have helped preserve indigenous
label in Africa, such as the Oromia Coffee Farmers food crops, such as indigenous potatoes in
Cooperative Union in Ethiopia, Kuapa Kokoo Ltd. in Argentina, increasing food security. Diversification
Ghana, and Heiveld Cooperative Society in South of household food supply, for example by dairy
Africa, often use fair trade rebates to provide public cooperatives, has improved nutrition as well as
health and healthcare services in remote areas. incomes.
HIV/AIDS home-based care services are provided
by cooperatives in Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania,
Lesotho and Swaziland, as well as parts of Asia. Diversification of household food
supply by dairy cooperatives can
Food secur it y a nd good improve nutrition as well as incomes
nutr ition
Members of the Societe des Eleveur de Vache Laitier
Cooperatives contribute to food security by helping de Foumbot (COOVALAIF) in western Cameroon
small farmers, fisher folk, livestock keepers, forest increased family consumption of fresh milk, supplied
holders and other producers to solve numerous hundreds of litres of milk to the cooperative every
challenges that confront them in their endeavours
day for marketing, and used cow dung to increase
to produce food. Farming and agriculture is where
maize, bean and potato yields. Annual household
the cooperative business model is most widely
income increased from USD430 in 2008 to USD3,000
utilised. Cooperatives together have an estimated
in 2012, with extra income used to pay school
32 per cent of the global market share in the
agricultural sector.13 fees for children, for family emergencies, and to
diversify into poultry and goat farming. The share
Challenges faced by small agricultural producers of households with year-round access to quality
include remoteness and lack of access to information food increased from 14 to 76 per cent over the same
about food prices on national and international
markets; access to high-quality inputs and variable
Source: Heifer International (2012), Dairy Farmer Cooperative
costs of buying seeds and fertilizer; access to loans Contributes to Food Security in Cameroon (Available at:
to buy these inputs; and lack of transport and other October/dairy-farmers-cooperative-contributes-to-food-
infrastructure in rural areas. security-in-cameroon.html).

Access to water a nd sa nitation municipality and the union of housing construction
cooperatives has supplied housing for 200,000 low
Cooperatives are increasingly becoming major
and middle income people, and kept down sales
actors in facilitating access to clean water and
and rental prices in the Ankara housing market.18 In
sanitation services to make up for the failures of
Africa, too, the National Housing Cooperative Union
both the public and private sectors.
(NACHU) in Kenya has been at the core of the Slum
Cooperatives have provided alternative ways for Up-grading Programme, organizing slum dwellers
urban communities to get clean water and safe into cooperatives and helping them acquire decent
sewerage services. SAGUAPAC in the Bolivian city houses.19
of Santa Cruz, for example, is the largest urban
Sustainable energy
water cooperative in the world, with 183,000 water
connections serving 1.2 million people, three- Energy cooperatives are contributing to
quarters of the citys population, with one of the the achievement of the sustainable energy
purest water quality measures in Latin America.14 goals of energy access, energy efficiency, and
In the Philippines, water shortages due to El Nio, reduced emissions. Cooperatives are visible in
managerial problems and financial losses due facilitating access to sustainable energy, where
to corruption and politicking led the Municipal they are playing a significant role in generating
Council of Binangonan city to allow cooperatives to electricity and distributing it to consumers. They
provide water services. Water cooperatives set up are also leading the way to the adoption of new
water delivery systems in their neighborhoods. and renewable energies like solar and wind power
in many parts of the world.
Water cooperatives also provide remote locations
that would otherwise have no service. In the Best known are the rural electrification cooperatives
panchayat of Olavanna in India, acute drinking water that have provided electricity to rural populations
shortages in the 1990s led to the establishment of in many countries, both developing and developed.
70 drinking water cooperative societies by 2012, In the US, these consumer-owned utilities purchase
providing water to more than 14,000 households electric power at wholesale prices and deliver it
in the region.15 In Africa, cooperatives in Ghana, directly to the consumer. There are 864 distribution
Ethiopia and South Africa have used fair trade cooperatives delivering 10 per cent of the nations
rebates to drill boreholes and establish local total kilowatt-hours of electricity and serving
groups for maintenance. In the US, cooperatives 12 per cent of electricity consumers, 42 million
are the most common organizational form of water people - mainly in rural areas where the return on
provision in small suburban and rural communities, expensive infrastructure investment was not high
formed to provide safe, reliable, and sustainable enough to attract investor-owned utilities. For this
water service at reasonable cost. There are about reason, cooperatives own and maintain 42 per cent
3,300 water cooperatives in the US, providing water of the nations electric distribution lines, covering
for drinking, fire protection, landscape irrigation, 75 per cent of the land mass. Sixty-six generation
and wastewater services.16 and transmission cooperatives were also formed to
pool purchasing power for wholesale electricity.20
Sanitation has also been addressed by cooperatives,
In Bangladesh, with assistance by the US electricity
as part of providing shelter and upgrading slums. In
cooperative movement, a Rural Electrification Board
India, the National Cooperative Housing Federation
has set up more than 70 rural electric cooperatives,
(NCHF) has mobilised the urban poor in more than
and installed more than 219,000 km of distribution
92,000 housing cooperatives, with a membership of
lines connecting 47,650 villages and 30 million
over 6.5 million people, constructing and financing
people to the grid, including 170,000 rural irrigation
2.5 million housing units, 75 per cent for low income
pumping stations.21
families.17 In Ankara, Turkey, an alliance between the

Generation of renewable energies has also been
Employment in cooperatives in select-
taken up by cooperatives. In the UK, a cooperative ed countries
is selling charcoal and briquettes made from Country Number of jobs
recycled materials, using an anaerobic digester to
United States 2 million
power the factory. More than 30 renewable energy
France 1 million
cooperatives were registered in the UK between
Italy 1,1 million
2008 and 2012, including solar power cooperatives
in London and Bristol. According to the German Brazil 274,000

Cooperative and Raiffeisen Confederation (DGRV), Argentina 290,000

158 out of 250 new cooperatives formed in Kenya 250,000
2011 in the energy sector operate in renewable Indonesia 300,000
energy, and between 2006 and 2011, 430 new
India 100,000 dairy cooperatives employ 12 million
energy cooperatives were formed.22 Cooperatives women
Europe has set up a working group on energy and Colombia Nearly 700,000 through direct employment
and as worker-owners in workers cooperatives
environment to promote the role of cooperatives in
renewable energy. Source: ICA (2014), Co-operative Facts & Figures (Available at:

In developing countries, success stories include a

biomass-based power cooperative in Karnataka, Globally more than 100 million jobs exist in
India. A major challenge facing energy cooperatives cooperatives, as cited by the ICA.24 Together with
is the high capital outlay required, so public-private small and medium-sized enterprises, cooperatives
partnerships need to be explored. are the most significant sources of new
employment.25 While global data on cooperatives
Employment cr eation, contributions to creating employment needs
livelihoods a nd equitable improvement, available country evidence is quite
grow th compelling.
Cooperatives play a significant role in employment Recent evidence has found that employment in
creation and income generation. employee-owned enterprises is less likely to be
negatively affected by cyclical downturns and that
Cooperative enterprises impact on these enterprises had greater levels of employment
employment: continuity over the recent economic downturn.26 A
They employ people directly; UK study found that employee-owned businesses
Indirectly they promote employment and were more likely to adopt longer-term horizons
self-employment through creating marketing when investing in their business, invested more in
opportunities and improving marketing human capital, and had a stronger focus on organic
conditions; and
They influence non-members whose
professional activities are closely related A recent book on capital and the debt trap examined
to transactions with cooperatives (such as
four case studies of large cooperatives that showed
tradesmen or input suppliers).
that enterprises organized and behaved according
Source: Develtere, P., I. Pollet & F. Wanyama (eds.) (2008),
Cooperating out of Poverty: The Renaissance of the African to cooperative principles - by which democratic
Cooperative Movement, Geneva: ILO. control goes together with joint ownership - have
weathered the brunt of the crisis, and have even
increased employment.28

The study suggests some reasons for this success: agricultural sector demonstrates how agricultural
producers organized in cooperatives see better
In the short term, cooperatives are member-based
so rather than shedding labour, they think of new incomes, more savings and reduced input costs,
activities (productivity, exports, restructuring). relative to those who are not.31
Members are aware of an imminent crisis and can
An important consideration is how the employment
prepare for it, due to democratic structures and
creation impact of cooperatives can be scaled up to
information sharing in real time.
generate new employment opportunities in those
Since decision-making is participatory and
income gaps are small among members, areas where public and private sector initiatives are
cooperatives are more able to take hard decisions weak or absent.
that are seen as legitimate. Sustainable natur al r esource
Safety and support funds guard against shocks, m a nagement
and common reserves that cannot be withdrawn,
guaranteeing financial stability. Cooperatives contribute to the sustainable
In the long term, cooperatives build pension and management of natural resources in a variety
education mechanisms for members and target of ways: They ensure that natural resources
community needs with a long-term vision. are not depleted. Cooperatives have provided
Restructuring and entering new activities are fora for local people to find solutions to
standard practice for cooperatives. environmental change by defining their
An increasing body of evidence suggests that property and user rights, managing natural
employee-owned businesses also outperform non- resources, and diversifying their economic
worker-owned enterprises in normal times, with activities to embrace green economic ventures.
higher financial returns and greater productivity.29 In Indonesia, for example, forestry cooperatives
Research in the US has found a consistent positive promote sustainable use of tropical hardwood and
relationship between employee-ownership and have received Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
labour productivity. Past research across a number certification for the international furniture market,
of countries within a range of different sectors overcoming monopoly of wood buyers and earning
suggests that employee-owned businesses provide a sustainable living.32
higher financial returns, greater productivity levels,
and higher levels of employment stability.30 Many cooperatives encourage more responsible
patterns of consumption and social and economic
Other contributions to livelihoods and equitable accountability values as normative practices
growth, documented for cooperatives, include in their model of doing business.33 Sustainable
income security, jobs for rural communities, agricultural cooperatives diversify their activities to
strengthening farmers position in the value chain, include water management, tourism, production of
employment in diverse sectors of the economy, quality regional foods and organic farming. They
spillover effects on employment, provision of respond to the crisis of high-tech agriculture and
infrastructure and other services, and social environmental regulation in the Netherlands. In
inclusion. Evidence from around the world shows Italy, social cooperatives provide maintenance of
the contributions cooperatives have made in public green spaces, urban waste collection, urban
promoting decent work and providing income sanitation, installation of solar panels, and waste
security, especially among those previously prevention and reuse.34
excluded. Research on the dairy industry in India
indicates that cooperative members enjoy higher In developing countries, thousands of waste-pickers
and more secure incomes than non-members work in poor conditions and contribute significantly
within the industry, particularly at the primary level to cleaning up the environment but lose profit to
of production. Similarly, recent research in Ethiopias middlemen who sell recyclables to industry. Waste-
pickers have established cooperatives in Colombia,

Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, the Philippines, India accountability, participation, responsiveness to the
and Indonesia, among other countries, to increase peoples needs, and respect for the rule of law, are
incomes and dignify their activities.35 also features of the cooperative identity. Deeply
rooted in the community they operate, cooperatives
Environmental agricultural can empower people by enabling even the poorest
cooperatives in the Netherlands segments of the population to participate in
economic progress. Furthermore, by creating a
The Netherlands has more than 125
platform for local development initiatives, they
environmental agricultural cooperatives. They
bring together a range of community institutions
allow Dutch conservation agencies to develop
to foster opportunities for decent work and
environmental management contracts with
social inclusion.37 Cooperatives can be schools
groups of land managers, so that landscapes
for practicing democracy first hand through
can be worked whole instead of piecemeal. In
participation and control.38
the Fryslan Woodlands in the early 1990s for
example, farmers were concerned that small- Second, cooperatives and cooperative members,
scale farming could not remain viable with in their dual role as stakeholders and owners or
pressure for dairy farming with low production controllers, can provide an important voice in the
costs and reducing farm sizes. They faced global debate on governance and transparency.
increasing environmental rules and regulations Strong and legitimate governance institutions,
on soil pollution. Environmental cooperatives including social enterprises like cooperatives, are
became a means for farmers to self-regulate needed to ensure that the benefits of development
and develop locally effective means to realize are equally shared and sustainable over time.
environmental objectives in their farming. In Britain, for example, the retail cooperative
Source: Renting, H. and J. D. Van der Ploeg (2001), Reconnecting
movement has been concerned with social as well
nature, farming and Society: environmental cooperatives in as economic aims since its origins. In more recent
the Netherlands as institutional arrangements for creating
coherence. Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning 3: p. times, it has been an early supporter of the Fair
Trade movement and of ethical banking. Some of
Good gover na nce the first adopters of the new Fair Tax Mark, to be
awarded to companies that meet their corporate tax
Responsible and effective governance has been
obligations fully and transparently, have included
identified in the post-2015 process as an enabler for
cooperatives and social enterprises.39
socio-economic transformation and the eradication
of structural inequality, as well as an end in itself. Blueprint for a Cooperative Decade:
The new development agenda provides the
Governance is key
opportunity for societies to shift to a more just
world, where resources are shared more equitably
Collectively members own their co-operative,
and people have a greater say in the decisions that
and through democratic arrangements they
affect their lives.36 Cooperatives have an important
role to play in this process. participate in its governance. Individually
they have a right to information, a voice, and
First, one of the principles of cooperatives is representation There is good evidence to
democratic member control. The equal voting suggest that providing consumers and workers
rights of cooperative enterprises, on the basis of with a voice inside organisations produces
one member, one vote, impart the necessary and
better, more intelligent and responsive forms of
legitimate representativeness to make them key
actors in the social dialogue process especially in rural
and informal economy settings. Good governance Source: ICA (2013), Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade,
(Available at
characteristics such as transparency, responsibility, publication/blueprint-co-operative-decade-february-2013.

This does not mean that cooperatives automatically In times of crisis, when there is an urgency to
have good governance. Implementing the establish more solid economic and financial
democratic decision-making model has sometimes systems, cooperative enterprises tend to re-emerge
been a challenge for cooperatives, with issues such as relevant solutions that are durable, and timely.
as poorly defined property rights and membership
In crisis, cooperatives can have transformative
apathy. Governance challenges are being countered
potential in revitalizing struggling sectors, recovery
by innovative responses, such as formulating codes
of crisis-stricken local economies, increasing returns
of conduct for management boards in cooperatives.
to producers and service providers across value
Case studies by the ILOs COOPAFRICA technical chains, formalizing informal employment, and
cooperation programme confirmed that the generating employment for women and youth in
institutional set-up of the cooperative model rural and urban areas. There are also new forms of
with its general assemblies, elected boards cooperatives being formed to respond to different
of directors, management committees and crises, for instance social care cooperatives that are
different controlling agencies is well-suited to make being formed in responding to the care needs of
collective decision-making low in conflict and to a ageing populations, or care cooperatives formed to
certain extent more predictable. Nonetheless, this take care of orphans after earthquakes.43
often implies member education, deliberations
Womens cooperatives have been especially active
and internal debate, as shown in the COOPAFRICA
as brokers of peace and development:
case study on fast-growing Rooibos cooperatives
in South Africa.40 The ILOs Recommendation 193 Womens cooperatives in Nepal, emerging
provides an international standard that has helped from a ten-year Maoist insurgency in
with re-vamping new cooperative laws and policies 2006, helped women to survive, manage
their livelihood options and look after
in ninety-seven countries around the world.41
their families through the provision of
Promotion of stable a nd credit, counselling and skills development.
peaceful societies In the post-conflict period, womens
cooperatives raised consciousness and
In the aftermath of violent social conflict, political participation and emerged as
voices of justice and peace.44
cooperatives have often emerged as sources of
Communal violence in Gujarat, India has
positive social capital, fostering a strong sense
resulted in massive loss of life, destruction
of community, participation, empowerment of property, loss of livelihoods and
and inclusion among members and restoring particularly grievous perpetration of
interpersonal relationships and peace. In post- sexual violence against women. During
genocide Rwanda, in addition to dealing with the 2002 communal riots, the Self-
structural causes of grievances, cooperatives Employed Womens Association (SEWA)
provided emotional support for members seeking Federation ran relief camps for riot victims
and provided women in the camps with
employment, access to basic health care,
Cooperatives have been known to emerge as a childcare and counselling.45
collective response to crisis, like the economic Cooperatives have contributed to
hardship times around the 1840s in the UK, rebuilding societies after conflict,
exemplified by a womens cooperative in
agricultural depression in 1860s in Germany, the
a Southern Lebanese village that revived
great depression of 1929-1930 in the US or the local and traditional products that faced
unemployment crisis of Europe in the 1970s. This extinction after heavy shelling in 2006, and
does not, however, mean that cooperatives only helped rebuild the memory of the village.46
succeed in times of crisis.

Cooper atives a nd global Cooperatives contributed to the stabilization of the
enabling en vironment a nd global financial system, which foundered in 2007
long-ter m fina nce on the growing use of debt and leverage. They
survived and fared relatively well in this instability
Cooperatives contribute to the creation of a global largely because of their ability to control their debt.
enabling environment by closing the trade gap Cooperative members own and control the capital
between the developed and developing world; by of the cooperative. Their customer-owned
stabilizing financial systems during crises; and by business model makes them resilient in a downturn.
providing the base for financial deepening around Diverse studies show that cooperative principles
the world. of democratic control and joint ownership have
Cooperatives have played a role in creating a enabled cooperatives to weather the crisis and
global enabling environment by bridging the trade grow.47
barriers betwe e n d e ve l o p e d a n d d e ve loping Financial cooperatives can provide some
countries through fair trade and other forms of of the best means for financial deepening,
alternative trade that alter the imbalanced trade and the financial basis for other kinds of
relationship. Linking cooperatives in the south to development activities in many parts of the
markets in the north also enables rebates for ethical world. In many cases, they are the only formal
production and marketing of products being used financial organizations available, particularly in
to support social development projects in local remote rural areas, where members can save and
communities in the south. There is a wide and borrow money to develop their own businesses.
growing range of fair trade products exported by Cooperatives also provide micro-insurance in
cooperatives, including coffee, tea, handicrafts, different forms contributing to financial stability.
cocoa, sugar, bananas, honey, wine and flowers.

Cooperatives are Major Exporters

In Nicaragua, Promotora de Desarollo Cooperativo de Las Segovias (PRODECOOP) includes 45
cooperatives with more than 2,420 families, each farming 7 to 12 acres of coffee grown organically
under the shade of the forest canopy. As an export cooperative, it is part of a larger worldwide
fair trade network and assists its members farmers in sustainably producing and marketing their
In West Africa, Kuapa Kokoo in Ghana is a sophisticated multipurpose cooperative with 50,000
farmer members spread across 1650 village societies, supplying 10 per cent of Ghanas cocoa
production. The cooperative began by producing high quality cocoa of internationally acceptable
market standards, and later set up a chocolate company in the UK using their cocoa beans.

Sources: Global Exchange (2011), Fair Trade Coffee Cooperatives (Available at:; Kuapa
Kokoo website (Available at:

Cooperatives are already present in all the areas Cooperatives are contributing towards gender
that the proposed Sustainable Development equality, not just by increasing female membership,
Goals envisage the direction the world will take to but by expanding opportunities for women in
make sustainable development a reality. Although local economies and societies in many parts of the
cooperatives are central to the realization of world. They support access to quality education
sustainable development around the world, and life-long learning opportunities by providing
with their focus on members and local needs, the means for financing education; supporting
they have not always been proactive in national schools; establishing their own schools to provide
and international debates. With little visibility at quality education to both the youth and adults;
national and international levels, the potential and and by serving as centres for lifelong learning.
importance of the contribution that cooperatives Cooperatives ensure healthy lives by creating the
can make to the design and realization of SDGs infrastructure for delivering healthcare services;
seems to have been missed by policy makers financing healthcare and providing home-based
at respective levels. This explains the relatively healthcare services to people living with HIV/AIDS,
limited visibility and attention that cooperatives among others.
have received in the debate on the post-2015
Cooperatives contribute to food security by helping
development agenda.
small farmers, fisher folk, livestock keepers, forest
This debate should not just build on cooperative holders and other producers to solve numerous
experiences, but should also accommodate the challenges that confront them in their endeavours
voices of the cooperative movement. This is to produce food. They are increasingly becoming
particularly important because, as was the case in major actors in facilitating access to clean water
the implementation of the MDGs, the realization and sanitation services to make up for the failures
of the proposed SDGs will most likely require the of both the public and private sectors. Energy
active participation of cooperatives and such cooperatives are contributing to the achievement
participation needs to be elicited at the point of of the sustainable energy goals of energy access,
formulating the goals. energy efficiency, and reduced emissions.

There is a widely held consensus among many Cooperatives play a significant role in
actors, including United Nations agencies like employment creation and income generation,
the International Labour Organization, and the with more than 100 million jobs worldwide.
International Co-operative Alliance, that the Recent evidence has found that cooperatives are
cooperative enterprise is the type of organization more resilient and perform better during financial
that best meets all dimensions of reducing poverty and economic crises.
and exclusion. This is because the way cooperatives
Whereas environmental cooperatives are
help to reduce poverty is important - they identify
spearheading the sustainable management of
economic opportunities for their members;
natural resources for posterity, the cooperative
empower the disadvantaged to defend their
governance model can provide the framework for
interests; provide security to the poor by allowing
equitable participatory processes that guarantee
them to convert individual risks into collective risks;
transparency and accountability, in cooperation
and mediate member access to assets that they
with communities, governments, businesses
utilize to earn a living.
and other stakeholders to realize sustainable

In the aftermath of violent conflict in many places
around the world, cooperatives have often emerged The United Nations should recognize the
as sources of positive social capital, fostering role of cooperatives in the realization of sus-
a strong sense of community, participation, tainable development by including coop-
empowerment and inclusion among its members eratives in the indicators, targets and funding
and restoring interpersonal relationships and mechanisms for the Sustainable Development
peace. Womens cooperatives have been especially Goals.
active as brokers of peace and development.
Cooperatives should be proactive by getting
Finally, cooperatives also contribute to the creation
involved in discussions at all levels (local, na-
of a global enabling environment for sustainable
tional, regional and international) on the post-
development by closing the trade gap between
2015 development agenda in order to secure
the developed and developing world; stabilizing
financial systems during crises; and providing the the opportunity to share their experiences on
base for financial deepening around the world. the realization of sustainable development.

R ecommendations National, regional and international coopera-

tive organizations should enhance their repre-
For all these reasons, cooperatives can be seen sentation and advocacy roles, to improve the
as an inherently sustainable business model, presence and voice of cooperatives in the post-
contributing to the triple bottom line of social,
2015 development agenda and the wider inter-
economic and environmental sustainability. To this
national policy debates.
end, the recommendations are:

ENDNOTES Conditions in Slums (Available at:
1 ICA (2011), Global 300 Report2010: The worlds major co-
operatives and mutual businesses (Available at 18 MOST Clearing House (nd.), Batikent Project Turkey (Available
sites/default/files/attachments/Global300%20Report%202011. at:
19 See, NACHU News, April (Available at:
2 UNGA (2012), The Future We Want. Resolution of the United
Nations General Assembly adopted on 27th July 2012 (Available April%20Newsletter.pdf).
PDF/N1147610.pdf?OpenElement). Mwende, J. (2012), NACHU Unveils Plan to build 416 low-cost
Houses (Available at:
3 ILO (forthcoming), Cooperatives and Sustainable Development: nachu-unveils-plan-to-build-416-low-cost-houses/).
Analysis of Cooperative Voices and Sustainable Development
Survey Report 20 University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives (2013), op. cit.
4 Aal, M. H. A. (2008), The Egyptian Cooperative Movement: 21 ILO (2013 ), Providing Clean Energy and Energy Access
Between State and Market, in PDeveltere, P., Pollet, I. & Wanyama, through Cooperatives, Geneva: ILO. (Available at: http://www.ilo.
F. (eds.), Cooperating out of Poverty: The Renaissance of the org/global/topics/green-jobs/publications/WCMS_233199/lang--
African Cooperative Movement, Geneva: ILO. (Available at: http:// en/index.htm)
22 Bilek, A. (2012), Revitalizing Rural Communities through the
5 Lemma, T. (2008), Growth without Structures: The Cooperative Renewable Energy Cooperative, Washington DC: Heinrich Boll
Movement in Ethiopia, in Develtere, P., Pollet, I. & Wanyama, Stiftung. (Available at:
F. (eds.), Cooperating out of Poverty: The Renaissance of the EnergyCooperatives.pdf).
African Cooperative Movement, Geneva: ILO. (Available at: http:// 23 Develtere, P., Pollet, I. & Wanyama, F. (eds.) (2008), Cooperating
out of Poverty: The Renaissance of the African Cooperative
6 Suzuki, T. (2010), A Brief Chronicle of the Modern Japanese Movement, Geneva: ILO. (Available at:
Consumer Cooperative Movement (Available at: record/412725)
24 ICA. Co-op Facts and Stats (Available at:
7 CICOPA (2011), Building Gender Equality through co-op-facts-and-stats).; ILO (2012), (Available at: http://www.ilo.
Cooperatives (Available at: org/global/about-the-ilo/newsroom/news/WCMS_192935/lang-
gender-equality-through.html). -en/index.htm).; Worldwide study of cooperatives (Available
8 Ibid. cooperatives-2.html).

9 Majurin, E. (2012), How Women fare in East African 25 ILC (2007), The Promotion of Sustainable Enterprises, Report
Cooperatives: the Case of Kenya,Tanzania and Uganda, Dar es VI. Geneva: ILO. (Available at:
Salaam: ILO. (Available at: groups/public/@ed_emp/@emp_ent/documents/publication/
employment/ent/coop/africa/download/woman_eastafrica.pdf). wcms_093969.pdf).

10 MacKay, L. (2007), Health Cooperatives in BC: the Unmet 26 Birchall, J. (2013), Resilience in a Downturn: The Power of
Potential, in British Columbia Medical Journal, Vol. 49, No. 3, pp. Financial Cooperatives, Geneva: ILO (Available at: http://www.ilo.
139-142. org/empent/Publications/WCMS_207768/lang--en/index.htm).

11 Birchall, J. (2004), Cooperatives and the Millennium Howarth, M. (2007), Worker Cooperatives and the Phenomenon
Development Goals, Geneva: ILO. of empresas recuperadas in Argentina: An Analysis of their
Potential for Replication, Geneva: ILO.
12 Oemichen, W. L. (2011), Healthcare Cooperatives and
Consumer-Governed Health Care, A presentation made at the 27 Brown, R. (2014). The performance of employee-owned
Consumer-Owned Private Health Insurance Plans Conference, businesses in Scotland: some preliminary empirical evidence in
April 26. (Available at: Fraser of Allander Institute Economic Commentary: Volume 37,
coopcare/web/CO-OPColoradoPresentationApril2011.pdf). No. 3. (Available at:
13 Bibby, A. (2014), Co-operatives are an inherently more owned_Businesses_in_Scotlandl_-_Ross_Brown_et_al_-_
sustainable form of business (Available at: http://www. March_2014.pdf).
business-sustainability). 28 Bajo, C. S. and B. Roelants (2013), Capital and the Debt Trap:
Learning from Cooperatives in the Global Crisis. Hampshire:
14 (2012), Clean Water, Cooperative Principles Palgrave Macmillan.
(Available at:
principles/). 29 Logue, J. and J. Yates (2005), Productivity in Cooperatives and
Worker-owned Enterprises: Ownership and Participation Make a
15 Sree, K. M. (2012), Water Cooperatives Help Quench Olavannas Difference! Geneva: ILO. (Available at:
Thirst, in The Times of India, May 6th (Available at: http:// OEOCLibrary/Preprints/LogueYatesProductivityInCooperatives AndWorkerOwnedEnterprises2005.pdf ).
cms?referral=PM). 30 Brown, R. (2014), op. cit.

16 University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives (2013), 31 UNDESA (2014), op. cit.
Research on the Economic Impact of Cooperatives (Available at: 32 (2013), A Source for Sustainable Teak (Available
17 Khurana, M.L. (2010), Cooperatives for Improving Living

33 Horwat, R. A. (2009), Environmental Cooperatives and FURTHER READING
Sustainability: Exploring the Cooperative as a Community Tool
to Support Sustainability in Montreal, Canada. Master of Science Birchall, J. (2013), Resilience in a Downturn:
Thesis, Central European University, Budapest The Power of Financial Cooperatives, Geneva:
34 Osti, G. (2012), Green Social Cooperatives in Italy: A Practical ILO. Available at
Way to cover the three Pillars of Sustainability? Sustainability: Sci- Publications/WCMS_207768/lang--en/index.
ence, Practice and Policy, Vol. 8, Issue 1, p. 82-93. htm
35 Medina (2005), Waste Picker Cooperatives in Developing
Countries, Paper prepared for WIEGO/Cornell/SEWA Conference Develtere, P., Pollet, I. & Wanyama, F. (eds.)
on Membership-Based Organizations of the Poor, Ahmedabad, (2008), Cooperating out of Poverty: The
India, January (Available at:
picker-cooperatives-developing-countries).; Renaissance of the African Cooperative
Movement, Geneva: ILO. Available at http://
Tirado-Soto and Zamberlan (2013), Networks of Recyclable Mate-
rial Waste-Pickers Cooperatives: An Alternative for the Solid Waste
Management in the City of Rio de Jeneiro, Waste Management,
33(4): 1004-12. High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the
Post-2015 Development Agenda (2013), A
36 The World We Want (2013), Final Report of the Global The-
matic Consultation on Governance and the Post-2015 Develop- New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty and
ment Framework. (Available at: http://www.worldwewant2015. Transform Economies through Sustainable
org/governance/finalreport). Development, New York: United Nations.
37 ILO (2003), Working out of Poverty. Report of the Director-Gen- Available at
eral, International Labour Conference, 91st session, Geneva. the-report/
38 ICA (2013), Cooperative Identity, Values and Principles (Avail- ICA (2013), Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade.
able at:
values-principles). Brussels: ICA. Available at
39 Bibby, A. (2014) op.cit.
40 Wanyama, F., Develtere, P., & Pollet, I. (2008),
Encountering the Evidence: Cooperatives and Poverty Reduction ICA (2013), Co-operatives and Sustainability:
in Africa, Journal of Cooperative Studies, Vol. 41, No. 3, pp. 16-27. An investigation into the relationship, Brussels:
41 ILO (2002), Recommendation 193 concerning the Promotion ICA. Available at
of Cooperatives, Geneva: ILO (Available at: default/files/attachments/Sustainability%20
42 Sentama, E. (2009), Peacebuilding in Post-Genocide Rwanda:
The Role of Cooperatives in the Restoration of Interpersonal Re- ILO (2002), Recommendation 193 concerning
lationships, PhD Thesis, Gothenburg University, School of Global the Promotion of Cooperatives, Geneva: ILO.
Available at
43 Esim, S. (2013), Witnessing the Cooperative Renaissance in empent/static/coop/pdf/english.pdf
Times of Global Crises presentation made at the Conference on
Health& Gender Equity in a Period of Global Crisis, Galway, Ireland.
November 29. ILO (2013), Providing Clean Energy and Energy
Access through Cooperatives, Geneva: ILO.
44 Douglas, E. (2005), Inside Nepals Revolution, National Geo- Available at
graphic Magazine(Available at: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.
com/ngm/0511/feature3/index.html). green-jobs/publications/WCMS_233199/
45 Ramnarain, S. (2011), Womens Cooperatives and Peace in
India and Nepal. Canadian Cooperative Association (Available Mogrovejo, R., Mora, A. & Vanhuynegem, P.
nas_PDF/WOMEN_CO-OPS_AND_PEACE_IN_INDIA_AND_NE- (2012), El cooperativismo en Amrica Latina:
PAL_2011_CCA.pdf). Una diversidad de contribuciones al desarrollo
46 Esim, S. and M. Omeira (2009), Rural Women Producers and sostenible, La Paz: OIT. Available at http://
Cooperatives in Conflict Settings in Arab States, Paper presented w w
at the FAO-IFAD-ILO Workshop on gaps, trends and current
research in gender dimensions of agricultural and rural employ- WCMS_188087/lang--es/index.htm
ment: differentiated pathways out of poverty, Rome, 31 March-2
April (Available at:
fao_ilo/pdf/Papers/25_March/Esim_Fin.pdf). Layout and Design by Jihea Khil

47 Bajo, C. S. and B. Roelants (2013), op. cit. Cover Image by Claire-Pascale Gentizon

A joint ILO and ICA initiative

Sustainability is recognized as one of the five pillars of the International

Co-operative Alliances (ICA) Blueprint for a Cooperative Decade,
which aims to position cooperatives as builders of economic,
social and environmental sustainability by 2020. The United
Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20)
highlighted decent work as a central goal and driver for sustainable
development and a more environmentally sustainable economy.

In order to bring cooperative voices into the discussion around

the post-2015 development agenda, the International Labour
Organization (ILO) and ICA has launched an initiative on the
contribution of cooperatives to sustainable development. This brief
summarizes the main findings of a forthcoming report of the same
title, by Frederick O. Wanyama of Maseno University in Kenya.

Cooperatives Unit
International Co-operative Alliance Enterprises Department
Co-operative House Europe International Labour Organization
Avenue Milcamps 105 4 route des Morillons
1030 Brussels CH-1211 Geneve 22