ILO & COPAC join forces with stakeholders to improve statistics on cooperatives

The COPAC Technical Working Group on Statistics on Cooperatives brought together over 20 producers and users of statistics on cooperatives from around the world to discuss a conceptual framework for measuring cooperatives. The Technical Working Group supports a multi-stakeholder initiative to improve the quality of statistics on cooperatives, including by working towards a harmonised conceptual framework, definition and methodology for generating comparable statistics on cooperatives.

Participants to the Technical Working Group meeting.
Building on previous meetings and communications among its members, the COPAC Technical Working Group on Cooperative Statistics (TWG) convened its first meeting in Geneva on 11-12 May, 2017. The meeting, hosted by ILO, current chair of COPAC, brought experts together to discuss the issue, with a particular focus on contributing to the discussion on the topic at the 20th International Conference of Labour Statisticians (ICLS) in October 2018. Among the participants were representatives of National Statistical Offices of the Republic of Korea and Iran, as well as other producers and users of cooperative statistics from Tanzania, the Philippines, Italy, France, Costa Rica, Canada, and the USA. 

The ICLS in 2013 adopted a Resolution concerning further work on statistics of cooperatives, calling for further development work in this field, particularly as cooperatives are often poorly represented in national statistics. As a follow-up to this Resolution, the 2018 session of ICLS will discuss the issue of statistics on cooperatives in detail for the first time in its history. The COPAC Technical Working Group will provide technical contributions for the discussion at the ICLS. The guidelines that will be presented to the ICLS will focus on collecting reliable and comparable statistics on cooperatives, in order to shed light on the contributions of cooperatives to employment and economies across the world.

The meeting took place in the ILO Headquarters in Geneva
The main purpose of the TWG meeting was to discuss a proposed conceptual framework for the measuring cooperatives, and to suggest steps towards its practical implementation at the country level. The framework, developed by Professor Marie J. Bouchard and her team from the Université de Quebec à Montréal, reviews the most important statistical studies on cooperatives, analyses concepts and methodologies for identifying and classifying cooperatives, and propose options for defining and classifying cooperatives for statistical purposes. Over the two days, the discussion focussed on, among other topics, the operational definition of cooperatives, work in cooperatives, membership, value-added, and planning for further work, particularly by bringing in perspectives of producers and users of statistics on cooperatives.

At the end of an intensive two-day meeting, Mr Vic Van Vuuren, the Director of the ILO’s Enterprises Department and the chair of COPAC, reinforced the driving purpose of improving statistics on cooperatives: to improve the lives of people suffering from poverty and inequality by helping cooperatives reach their full potential. Statistics are an ammunition to strengthen the case for cooperation.