As business organization, cooperatives contribute to economic development, generating more than 100 million jobs and securing the livelihoods of nearly a quarter the world’s population. Cooperatives provide an important channel for bridging market values and human values.

Within the UN system, the ILO is responsible for the largest and most diversified programme for the promotion of cooperatives. Viable and self-reliant cooperatives formed by producers, consumers, workers and business people worldwide have demonstrated their enormous potential for creating and consolidating employment opportunities, empowering people, providing protection and alleviating poverty. The ILO technical assistance programme for cooperative development focuses on policy and legal advice, capacity-building through human resource development, poverty alleviation through self-help, alternative delivery mechanisms for social services, and a special regional programme for indigenous and tribal peoples.