Cooperatives advancing youth employment for sustainable development

News | 18 November 2016
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. They can help young people both to find work and to gain work experience, as well as offer opportunities for professional and vocational training.

On 16 and 17 November, UNDESA Division for Social Policy and Development organized an Expert Group Meeting on the role of cooperatives in promoting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Cooperatives are recognized in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as means of implementation along with other private sector actors including microenterprises and multinationals. The 20 experts who participated in the meeting at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, were invited to answer the following questions through their presentations:
  •  What are the economic, social, and environmental contributions, potential and achievements of coops in relation to the SDGs?
  •  What strengths do cooperatives bring to the partnerships for implementing the SDGs?
  •  What are the resources of the cooperatives that can help in achieving the SDGs at the national level, especially in the least developed countries?
  •  What are the challenges facing cooperatives in implementing the SDGs and what are ways to overcome them?
The ILO contributed to the meeting with a presentation on the role of cooperative enterprises in advancing youth employment towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The presentation, by the Head of Cooperatives Unit, Ms. Simel Esim, started by outlining the role of the ILO in advancing decent work in the context of SDG 8 on decent work and economic growth. It then discussed the related indicators on youth employment, and provided pathways through which cooperatives can and do contribute to youth employment. Examples from ILO initiatives were presented, followed by suggestions for the ways forward in scaling up the role of cooperatives in creating more and better employment opportunities for young women and men. In follow up to the presentation, the discussion concentrated around the sectors and types of cooperatives which are most conducive to youth employment, challenges around cooperative statistics and ways to encourage existing cooperatives to reach out to youth to ensure their participation.