Ms. Esim said that the ILO and ICA AP office, which has 109 member organizations from 32 countries in the region, collaborated since the early 1960s on a range of issues and in different ways. She highlighted:
- ILO’s CoopTrade project in Asia in the late 1970s that promoted trade between cooperatives within Asia and with Europe
- In the 1980s and 1990s ILO’s Methods and Techniques of Co-operative Management (MATCOM) Training Packages were adapted for cooperative staff across Asia
- ILO COOP and ICA Asia Pacific regional office worked together in developing a Leadership Training Manual for Women Leaders of Co-operatives, launched in 2005. This manual has seen numerous revisions to this day.
- In 2000s ILO’s Interregional Programme to Support Self-Reliance of Indigenous and Tribal Communities through Cooperatives and Other Self-Help Organizations (INDISCO) worked in the South East Asia region in collaboration with the ICA AP member cooperative organizations.
She mentioned jointly organized events such as the International Conference on Cooperatives in the Changing World of Work in Kerala in 2018 and on women cooperative development in collaboration with SEWA Cooperative Federation in Gujarat in 2019 helped further understanding and cooperation between the ILO and ICA AP region.
She observed how during the centenary of ILO COOP Unit in 2020, the interviews with cooperative leaders, researchers and practitioners from the Asia Pacific region provided great insights on the diversity of the cooperative movements in the region and how they have been adapting and advancing responses to challenges they face in the changing world of work today.
Ms Esim highlighted how cooperative organizations in the region have been responding to the needs of their members and communities in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic through extending information, goods and services, but also advocating with policy makers.
In concluding her congratulatory remarks, she extended an invitation to all members of the ICA AP region to join the ILO COOP centenary celebrations on November 16 and 17 through a two day symposium on cooperating for social justice and decent work.