Areas of work

  1. Child Labour

    Cooperatives, as democratic member-led businesses, help bring about changes in the way work is organized and how wealth is distributed – both important steps in helping bring about an end to child labour.

  2. Formalization of the Informal Economy

    Workers in the informal economy are mostly unprotected, with no formal recognition. They operate as individuals or in small groups, have no access to financial services, nor do they have representation or voice. Cooperatives enable formalization by transforming what are often marginal survival activities into legally protected work, fully integrated into the mainstream economy.

  3. Future of Work

    The world of work is undergoing major processes of change, and cooperation, through cooperative and other forms of social and solidarity economy enterprises, is emerging with viable and sustainable responses to these transformations.

  4. Gender Equality

    Rooted in values of self-help, equality, and equity, as well as economic growth through cooperation and democratic processes, cooperatives are well-positioned to promote gender equality and women’s participation.

  5. Green Agenda

    Climate change is affecting the world of work in various ways, with some new jobs being created and transformed (e.g. renewable energy), while other jobs are being lost or replaced. Given these changes, cooperatives are emerging as economic actors in climate change adaptation (e.g. mutual insurance for crops; agricultural cooperatives supporting diversification of crops or improved watershed management) as well as mitigation (e.g. renewable energy cooperatives, forestry and agroforestry cooperatives) across countries.

  6. Legislation and Policy

    International labour standards are an essential component in the international framework for ensuring that the growth of the global economy provides benefits to all. ILO’s Promotion of Cooperatives Recommendation, 2002 (No. 193) is an instrument that aims to guide ILO member States in the design and implementation of favourable cooperative development policies and legislation.

  7. Migrants and Refugees

    Cooperatives are well-placed to provide a part of the response to both refugee and labour migration situations, and in recent years they have been used to deliver on refugee situations across the world.

  8. Rural Economy

    Cooperatives in rural areas can play an important role in the promotion of rural entrepreneurship, service provision and social protection. They are often considered as schools of democracy, promoting representation and voice for rural producers and workers.

  9. Social and Solidarity Economy

    Recent global economic and political instability has served to underline the shortcomings of our current development system and further confirm the necessity for an alternate or complementary development paradigm. The social and solidarity economy (SSE) is a viable solution to rebalancing economic, social and environmental objectives.

  10. Statistics on Cooperatives

    Statistics on cooperatives are essential to quantify the impact of cooperatives on their members and the economy as a whole. Currently reliable and comparable statistics on cooperatives are not available.

  11. Sustainable Development Goals

    Cooperatives, as sustainable enterprises owned and managed by their members, and based on values and principles, are recognized as means of implementation for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) along with other private sector enterprises.

  12. Worker Cooperatives 

    Worker cooperatives are emerging as an organizational model responding to the changes within the world of work. They have a specific democratic governance structure of member-worker-owners, where decisions are made by those directly involved in the enterprise.

  13. Youth Employment

    Across the world young women and men face real and increasing difficulty in finding decent work opportunities. At a time when young people are disproportionately affected by unemployment and the lack of decent work, cooperatives can create work opportunities and better working conditions for them.