The Occupied Palestinian Territory joins the global community in celebrating International Day of Cooperatives

Press release | 06 July 2022

Ramallah and Gaza (ILO News) - The ILO Representative Office in Jerusalem, the General Cooperative Union (GCU), and the Cooperative Work Agency (CWA) held an event to celebrate the International Day of Cooperatives 2022 in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). The hybrid event, titled “Rebuild better together,” was held with the participation of the Palestinian Minister of Labour, ILO officials, leaders of Palestinian cooperatives and civil society, and representatives from the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS).

Under the theme “Cooperatives Build a Better World”, the 100th International Day of Cooperatives showcased the unique contribution of cooperatives to making the world a better place. This year is also the 20th anniversary of the ILO Recommendation 193 on the Promotion of Cooperatives and the 10th anniversary of the UN International Year of Cooperatives.

Palestinian Minister of Labour Dr. Nasri Abu Jaish said: “The cooperative sector is very important in strengthening the steadfastness of Palestinians on their land and enabling them to face all the measures taken by the occupation in terms of the siege on our people in both parts of the country, which gives cooperative work an additional dimension. Achieving this requires concerted efforts to bring about a qualitative leap in cooperative work and to increase its reach to cover all sectors and governorates, especially those threatened by settlement, and to increase the contribution of cooperative work to GDP. The Government will continue to support and strengthen this sector by providing expertise and developing policies and regulatory systems to ensure that it responds to national priorities.”

The event was held under the Cooperative Support Programme for Palestine (CSP-OPT), an ILO programme that works to strengthen Palestinian cooperatives and social entrepreneurship toward advancing decent work and sustainable development in the OPT. The Cooperative Support Programme is a component of the 3-year Programme “Be the Impact,” funded by AICS.

Representative of the ILO in Jerusalem Mr. Mounir Kleibo said: “In order to build back better, we need to reconsider our cooperative identity, and illustrate with good examples the contribution of Palestinian cooperatives to growth and development. We need to activate dialogue on the cooperative sector, and we must document and share success stories with our tripartite partners. We must also strengthen and increase multilateral partnerships with cooperatives, and improve our ways of doing business in line with the values and principles of cooperatives. We must not forget the necessity of embracing supportive technology to create an enabling environment that simulates new generations and urges them to join the cooperative sector.”

The celebratory event provided an overview of the contribution of ILO Recommendation 193 for the past 20 years in guiding legal and policy development for Palestinian cooperatives based on values and principles.
The event included interventions from ILO’s main partners and stakeholders at the international, regional, and national levels, who shared good practices and lessons learned about the role of cooperatives in advancing decent work and sustainable development.

Secretary-General of the General Cooperative Union (GCU) Mr. Izz Edin Abu Taha stressed the "importance of the role entrusted to the GCU and the sectoral federations to enable associations to achieve their ambitions in line with the principles and concepts of cooperation and national priorities, and to meet the members' needs and common economic, social and cultural aspirations." He noted the importance of the role of cooperatives in the social solidarity economy, adding that “supporting this economy is required in order to make breakthroughs in the fight against poverty and to contribute to economic and social development."

The event also provided a platform to discuss the emergence of entities other than cooperatives that are based on similar values and principles and that are part of the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE).
ILO COOP Manager Ms Simel Esim noted that: “The ILO’s 110th International Labour Conference has adopted a resolution and conclusions on decent work and the social and solidarity economy last month. The Conclusions include a universal definition of the SSE that has been agreed upon by ILO’s tripartite Constituents. The ILO is now preparing an Office-wide strategy and workplan based on these conclusions.”

Participants at the event presented practical cases of how cooperatives and other entities in the SSE proved their resilience serving their members, users and wider communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Head of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation Office in Jerusalem Guglielmo Giordano said: “Cooperatives have given small, marginalized groups like farmers the power to compete with large corporations, supporting them with low-cost access to supplies, raw materials, and equipment. The cooperatives also supported farmers in the marketing and sales of products, accessing international markets, and controlling prices. We must also consider the strong power that cooperatives can have for women’s employment in Palestine, as there is still room for increasing women’s fundamental participation and contribution in this sector.”

The event took place over in Ramallah and Gaza simultaneously, and were connected virtually.