ILO activities are guided by the international standard on cooperatives, the ILO Recommendation on the Promotion of Cooperatives, 2002 (R.193). ILO's Cooperatives Unit (COOP) serves ILO constituents and cooperative organizations 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 cooperatives of taxation policies, labour law, accounting standards, and competition law among others.
Partnerships for cooperative promotionThe ILO works in partnership with the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA), the representative world body of cooperatives and is a member of the Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives (COPAC), an interagency committee which promotes sustainable cooperative development. It also collaborates with cooperative development agencies and training institutions.
A cooperative is defined as an "autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise."ILO Recommendation 193
14-15 December 2014
On December 14 and 15, representatives from governments, workers' organisations, informal domestic worker networks, and national and international experts on workers’ self-organisation gather in Amman, Jordan, to discuss and explore potential organizing services for domestic workers, including cooperatives, in Arab States.
Call for papers for the ICA-ILO International Research Conference Cooperatives and the World of Work, to be held in Antalya, Turkey, on 10-11 November, 2015.
Cooperatives and the Sustainable Development Goals: A contribution to the post-2015 development debate
This paper highlights the contribution of cooperatives to sustainable development with a view to stimulating discussion on the role of cooperatives in the design and implementation of SDGs.
ILO Statement to the Second Committee of 69th UN General Assembly on Agriculture Development, Food Security and Nutrition
28 October 2014
Around the world cooperatives, as principled and value-driven organizations, have a huge impact on rural life. They achieve this through a diverse range of large and small cooperatives ranging from agriculture and horticulture to energy; forestry to finance; social services and community development to transport, tourism, mining and many more.
12 November 2014
"I am struck by the energy, vision and accomplishments of the membership-based organizations of workers in the informal economy, largely led by women", writes Simel Esim, the manager of ILO COOP, on the occasion of WIEGO's General Assembly, in her blog entry.
21 October 2014
This new working paper by ILO’s Sectoral Activities Department and the Cooperatives Unit explores the role and potential of cooperatives and other social and solidarity economy organizations in coping with the challenges of e-waste, and in contributing to more and better jobs in e-waste recycling.
International Summit of Cooperatives
ILO: "Cooperatives can and must play a significant role as value driven enterprises expanding into new and innovative areas"
07 October 2014
Keynote address by Sandra Polaski, ILO Deputy Director General for Policy, at the International Summit of Cooperatives Session on Cooperatives and Employment. Quebec, Canada.
Cooperatives and post-2015 conference in Brussels
28 September 2014
In her presentation, Simel Esim, Head of the ILO’s Cooperatives Unit, underlined the key role cooperatives could play in the post-2015 development agenda.
Cooperatives and Trade Unions
A new ILO publication presents a series of lessons learned by trade unions and cooperatives in their efforts to prevent the closing of enterprises through buyouts. It provides examples of success stories and documents the enabling conditions that led to success.
06 October 2014
This issue of the COOP News includes articles on various events, projects, trainings and meetings related to the work of the ILO's COOP Unit between April and August, 2014.
06 October 2014
The ILO’s Recommendation 193 on the Promotion of Cooperatives was adopted in 2002 and provides an internationally agreed template for national policy. This second edition has been updated and revised and will help cooperatives, governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations to help to make the cooperative model to become the option for achieving sustainable development.
Cooperatives and the World of Work
ILO COOP has started a new series on cooperatives and the world of work. This brief on domestic workers' cooperatives is the second in the series.
Cooperatives and the World of Work
ILO COOP has started a new series on cooperatives and the world of work. This brief on cooperative advantage for women’s empowerment and gender equality is the first in the series.
30 July 2014
Registration for My.COOP Training of Trainers distance learning programme in English, French and Spanish is now open!
02 September 2014
On the occasion of the International Symposium “Cooperatives and the Sustainable Development Goals: Focus on Africa” in Berlin, ILO Cooperative Unit (COOP) Chief Simel Esim explains why cooperatives are vital to reaching the goals of the United Nations’ post-2015 development agenda.
Gobierno del Perú muestra su compromiso con la institucionalización de la Metodología de My.COOP, iniciada por la OIT, Agriterra, KIT y otros socios en el 2009.
This policy brief presents concrete strategies to improve the challenging situation that workers face in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) by exploring the full potential of agricultural cooperative enterprises in the West Bank.
FES/ILO/DGRV International Symposium on Cooperatives and the Sustainable Development Goals: Focus on Africa
02 September 2014
This event aims at informing the development community in Germany of the latest trends with regard to the role cooperative enterprises can play as builders of economic, social and environmental sustainability.
The Summit speaks with Sandra Polaski, Deputy Director-General at the ILO, about the ILO’s Global Employment Agenda, the reasons behind the success of cooperatives in the area of job creation and the contribution of cooperatives to the 2015 UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Listen to the RadioLabour report on cooperatives fighting child labour, featuring Simon Steyne, the head of the Social Dialogue and Partnerships unit of the ILO's International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour - IPEC.
Cooperatives and the Sustainable Development Goals: A Contribution to the Post-2015 Development Debate
08 April 2014
This brief summarizes the main findings of a forthcoming report of the same title, by Frederick O. Wanyama of Maseno University in Kenya, prepared as part of ILO’s contribution to the initiative on the contribution of cooperatives to sustainable development.
14 July 2014
The coop economy, worth around US$2.5 trillion, plays its part in helping to eliminate child labour – a problem that, although in decline, still affects 168 million children worldwide.
Cooperative movement engagement in sustainable development and the post-2015 process: Survey findings
27 June 2014
In order to bring cooperative voices into the discussion around the post-2015 development agenda, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) have launched an initiative on the contribution of cooperatives to sustainable development. This brief reports on the results of an online survey that investigated the current and potential contributions of cooperatives to sustainable development.
International Labour Conference
Cooperatives provide their members with the adequate tools enabling the transition towards the formal economy
03 June 2014
Secretary General of CICOPA, Bruno Roelants, is representing the International Co-operative Alliance at the 103rd Session of the International Labour Conference in Geneva. Click to read Mr. Roelants' address to the ILC Committee on facilitating transitions from the informal to the formal economy.
22 May 2014
All over the world, trade unions and cooperatives are rediscovering each other and joining forces to save companies and jobs.
This issue of the COOP News includes articles on various events, projects, trainings and meetings related to the work of the ILO's COOP Unit between January and March, 2014.
International Journal of Labour Research
01 April 2014
In May 2013, ACTRAV and the ILO Cooperatives Unit held a seminar on the topic of relations between trade unions and worker cooperatives. The goal was to re-examine the relationship between the two movements by taking stock of recent initiatives around the world. To be sure, the relationship between trade unions and cooperatives is as long as the history of trade unions. In fact, it is fair to say that the first associations of workers that emerged in Europe looked more like cooperatives than trade unions.
20 December 2013
This publication is a collection of case studies on cooperatives in energy production, distribution and consumption as a contribution to the on-going search for ways in which the goal of sustainable Energy for All can be turned into a reality.
10 December 2013
Opening remarks by Maurizio Bussi, the Director of the ILO's Decent Work Technical Support Team for East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific at the First Asia-Pacific Co-operative Registrars' Conference, 10-12 December 2013, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Provides guidance to policy and lawmakers as well as other stakeholders to update existing and draft new cooperative legislation. Now also available in French and Spanish, with Arabic and Russian versions to follow shortly!
20 March 2013
This report reviews the performance of financial cooperatives, looking in particular at the aftermath of the 2007-2008 crisis and the continuing long austerity period. It explains why financial cooperatives have proven to be more resilient pointing to the specificities of the cooperative model of enterprise. Now available in English, French, Spanish and Korean.
13 November 2013
Given the values and principles cooperative enterprises embody and as a resilient business model which has been shown to operate successfully in all sectors, they can play a vital role in overcoming HIV and AIDS.
19 September 2013
Cooperative enterprises have improved the lives of women and men migrant workers and their families for decades. Migrants find income and jobs, access affordable goods and services and find empowerment through cooperative enterprises, participating in the cooperative movement. Moreover, cooperative enterprises are facilitating economic, social and cultural integration or re-integration of migrant workers in both destination and home countries.
08 July 2013
On 8 July, experts gathered for a panel discussion at the UN in New York to examine ways in which cooperatives could serve as engines of economic recovery and growth while providing greater opportunities for social inclusion.
10 June 2013
A non-profit organization set up in response to the devastation caused by cyclone Nargis employs women to run small businesses that benefit poor communities.
14 May 2013
A recent seminar organized by the ILO’s Bureau for Workers’ Activities and the ILO’s Cooperative Branch brought together researchers and practitioners from around the world to talk about some of the issues and experiences that cooperatives are facing today.
06 May 2013
06 May 2013
Cooperatives and social enterprises can help expand decent work and job opportunities, says ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder.
12 April 2013
A new ILO book says that financial cooperatives fared better than the big investor-owned banks during the economic crisis.
This issue brief produced during the International Year of Cooperatives 2012 highlights how and why the cooperative form of enterprise can cater to the economic and social needs of persons with disabilities.
Information brief on cooperatives
- The Benefits of Women-Led Co-ops in Arab States
- Co-operative legislation finds a home in more nations
- Simel Esim on the power of cooperatives
- Myths, death and insurance
- In Kenya, working hand in hand with the ILO to create cooperatives and jobs
- A Model for Small-Scale Farmers in Zanzibar
- Empowering women through their own SACCOS
- Providing security through SACCOs in Ethiopia
- Turning waste fruit into a profitable business
- Celebrating International Co-operative Day
- Financial co-operatives: A safe bet in a crisis
- ILO report highlights the resilience of financial co-operatives during crisis
- ILO highlights co-ops' important role in Japan’s recovery from natural disasters
- Co-ops help to promote gender equality, says Simel Esim
- Simel Esim on the importance of getting the youth in co-ops
- What world do we want as cooperators? And is the work done?
- Dunsany Declaration feeds into the ICA's Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade
- Simel Esim speaks of the ILO’s co-operative branch key projects
- ILO Director-General explains why co-ops are key to feeding the world
- Two UN agencies support co-ops role in alleviating youth unemployment crisis
- 1,000 co-operators celebrate Global Worker Co-op Day
- Co-operative Youth Forum: Empowerment, Employment and Engagement
11 December 2012
Provides guidance on how to draft cooperative law.
01 January 2007
This handbook lists the essential things to know about cooperatives for all those who are interested as members, future members, politicians or staff of national or international institutions in charge of the promotion and development of cooperatives. In simple, understandable language, the handbook deals in turn with the characteristic features of cooperatives, cooperative enterprise as a whole, the promotion of cooperatives and the close ties that exist between the ILO and cooperatives.
Let’s organize! : a SYNDICOOP handbook for trade unions and cooperatives about organizing workers in the informal economy
01 January 2006
This SYNDICOOP Handbook is designed to help replicate the approach by serving as a resource for trade union and cooperative organizers and trainers. It was finalized by members of the International Steering Committee of the SYNDICOOP Programme, mainly comprising representatives from the International Confederation of Trade Unions (ICFTU now ITUC), the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) and ILO together with National Steering Committee members from all four programme countries as well as project staff.