Cooperatives: Resilient to crises, key to sustainable growth

In a message marking International Day of Cooperatives, ILO Director-General Juan Somavia salutes the approximately one billion people worldwide who are involved in cooperatives.

News | 06 July 2012
GENEVA (ILO News) – Cooperatives can play a key role in confronting the growing inequality, unemployment, social exclusion and environmental challenges created by the current growth and globalization model, ILO Director-General Juan Somavia has said.

“The resilience of cooperatives, including in times of crisis, testifies to the sustainability and adaptability of the cooperative enterprise,” said Mr Somavia in a statement for International Day of Cooperatives.

“Guided by the compass of social justice, cooperatives are vehicles for promoting decent work and decent lives for all. As democratic, value-driven and locally-controlled organizations, they foster social inclusion,” he added.

More than 100 million people are directly employed in cooperatives around the world, while the total number of members reaches around one billion.

Facts and figures on cooperatives
  • Serve 1 billion members worldwide
  • Financial cooperatives serve over 857 million people – 13 per cent of the world population.
  • Provide 100 million jobs around the globe
  • Ensure the livelihoods of 50 per cent of the world’s population
  • Produce 50 per cent of global agriculture output
  • The top 300 cooperatives generate USD 1.6 trillion
Mr Somavia said cooperatives can help disadvantaged groups such as indigenous people, refugees, migrants and women in general to gain voice, to mobilize in pursuit of their economic interests and to secure social protection.

This year’s International Day of Cooperatives coincides with the 10th anniversary of the ILO Promotion of Cooperatives Recommendation, which was a major keystone for promoting cooperatives worldwide.

“I urge all who wish to translate the cooperative ideal into action to make good use of this Recommendation,” said Mr. Somavia, adding that the recent Rio+20 Summit had reaffirmed “the role of cooperatives in contributing to social inclusion and poverty reduction”.