International Day of Cooperatives

International Day of Cooperatives is celebrated on the first Saturday of July every year. It was first celebrated under the auspices of the United Nations in 2005, though its history as a day celebrated by the international cooperative movement and the International Co-operative Alliance goes back 1923. The aim of the International Day is to increase awareness on cooperatives and promote the movement's successes and ideals of international solidarity, economic efficiency, equality, and world peace. The International Day also aims to strengthen and extend partnerships between the international cooperative movement and other actors, including governments, at local, national and international levels.

Each year the theme of the International Day of Cooperatives is determined by the Committee on the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives (COPAC), of which the ILO is a member and a current chair (since March 2017). The theme for the 2017 International Day is inclusion, with the slogan of “Cooperatives ensure no one is left behind”.

ILO’s Director-General has provided statements for the International Day of Cooperatives between 2010 and 2017. ILO officials have also participated in activities around the International Day of Cooperatives. Below are some links for these statements and activities.

2019

In commemoration of the ILO’s centenary, the theme of the 2019 International Day of Cooperatives is "cooperatives for decent work" as determined by COPAC. This theme is also closely linked to SDG8.

  • Video message from ILO Director-General Guy Ryder for the International Day of Cooperatives 2019 – 6 July 2019

Message from ILO's Director-General Guy Ryder for International Cooperative Day 2019

The 2019 International Day of Cooperatives will be celebrated on Saturday 6 July. This year, in commemoration of the ILO’s centenary, the theme is "cooperatives for decent work" which is closely linked to SDG8. On this occasion ILO Director-General Guy Ryder has issued a video message.

TEXT OF VIDEO MESSAGE

This year’s International Day of Cooperatives is focused on the theme, “Cooperatives for decent work”.

Decent work sums up the aspirations of people to live their working lives in conditions of freedom, equality, security and dignity. It is the precondition for social justice, the core of the ILO mandate since its foundation in 1919.

So, this year’s theme is particularly timely as the ILO celebrates its Centenary. During its one hundred years of service the ILO has given employers, workers and governments an equal voice in setting labour standards and labour policies. This has resulted on limits to working hours, progress towards ending child and forced labour, and more inclusive workplaces including for people with disabilities. It has helped to close the gender pay gap and aims to stop violence against women and men at work. And today the ILO is striving to lead the way to not only shape but to achieve the future of work we all want.

Over that century, cooperatives have been an important partner of the ILO in achieving a decent, “human-centred" work agenda for a fair, secure and inclusive future of work. The first ILO Director-General, Albert Thomas, was from the cooperative movement himself. Recognizing the importance of cooperatives, he established a Cooperative Service in the ILO in 1920. And co-operators are mentioned in Article 12 explicitly of the constitution of the ILO.

As the representative of cooperatives worldwide the International Cooperative Alliance holds a general consultative status at the ILO. Cooperatives offer a resilient, democratic and sustainable model of doing business in all sectors of the economy. The ILO’s Recommendation No. 193 on the Promotion of Co-operatives adopted in 2002 also provides a very solid basis for national policies on cooperatives. More recently cooperatives were recognized as a tool in the pathway towards formalising the informal economy, this in the ILO Transition from the Informal to the Formal Economy Recommendation No. 204, which we adopted in 2015, and it’s also recognized in the final report of the Global Commission on the Future of Work which was published in January of this centenary year.

So today, there are growing calls for new models of development and an increasing number of enterprises have come up with innovative solutions to improve the organisation of work and production. And cooperatives are increasingly recognised as key drivers in this diverse ecosystem.

The ILO therefore welcomes a commitment made by the international cooperative movement towards the promotion of a decent working environment and particularly zero tolerance for any form of harassment through your “Declaration on Decent Work and Against Harassment”. Good practices can be found in cooperatives all over the world showing how they address decent work deficits in their own operations and across the value chains in which they operate. Forward-thinking cooperatives are taking concrete measures toward social justice, equality and non-discrimination, and are putting systems in place to track their contribution to decent work. And the new guidelines concerning the statistics of cooperatives which were adopted at the International Conference of Labour Statisticians last year provides a solid framework to develop such systems.

As we embark upon the second century of the ILO, it is clear that our mandate to promote social justice and decent work has never been more relevant, and that it continues to endure.

In these times of unprecedented change and exceptional challenges in the world of work we look forward to continued partnership with the cooperative movement to achieve a stable, just future of work for everybody. I wish you good luck.


  • Video clip on cooperatives and decent work created for the International Day of Cooperatives, 2019

2018

2017

2016

"An old idea, but more relevant than ever in today’s world" . Message by ILO's Director-General Guy Ryder for International Day of Cooperatives 2016 – 1 July 2016

2015

“Choose cooperatives, choose equality" . Message by ILO's Director-General Guy Ryder for International Day of Cooperatives 2015 – 4 July 2015

2014

“Cooperatives for sustainable development" . Message by ILO's Director-General Guy Ryder for International Day of Cooperatives 2014 – 5 July 2014

2013

“Cooperative Enterprise Remains Strong in Times of Crisis” . Message by ILO's Director-General Guy Ryder for International Day of Cooperatives 2013 – 5 July 2013

2012

"Cooperative enterprises build a better world" . Statement by Juan Somavia, Director-General of the International Labour Office on the occasion of International Day of Cooperatives – 6 July 2012

2011

“Youth, the future of cooperative enterprise” . Statement by Juan Somavia, Director-General of the International Labour Office on the occasion of International Day of Cooperatives – 2 July 2011

2010

“Cooperative enterprise empowers women” . Statement by Juan Somavia, Director-General of the International Labour Office on the occasion of International Day of Cooperatives – 3 July 2010