Speakers discuss how equality drives sustainable development at International Day of Cooperatives.

Choose cooperatives, choose equality: Paths to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

“Many of the global challenges we’re facing derive from a business model that puts financial return ahead of human need—that values short-term gain over long-term sustainability. That’s why the cooperative model is uniquely suited to achieving sustainable development and its goals.”

These were among the opening remarks of Tamara Vrooman, CEO of Vancity, kicking off discussions on 8th July during an event at UN headquarters in New York themed “Choose cooperatives, choose equality: Paths to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals”.

The event, organised by COPAC, marked the UN observance of the 2015 International Day of Cooperatives. Speakers and participants explored how cooperatives contribute to sustainable development through equality.

In addition to Mrs Vrooman’s remarks, participants heard statements from representatives of COPAC member organisations, including Daniela Bas (Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development of UNDESA), Sharon Brennen-Haylock (Director of the FAO’s Liaison Office with the United Nations) and Kevin Cassidy (Senior Communications and External Relations Officer of the ILO Office for the United Nations).

Representatives of UN Member States spoke out in support of cooperatives at the event. Emilia Gatto (Minister Plenipotentiary of the Permanent Representation of Italy to the UN) and Ulzii Vangansuren (Counsellor and chargé d’affaires of the Permanent Representation of Mongolia to the UN) gave statements on the important role of cooperatives in achieving sustainable development in their own countries.

The cooperative perspective was presented by Dr Esther Gicheru (Director of the Institute for Co-operative Development, Research and Extension at the Co-operative University College of Kenya), who detailed the positive social, economic and environmental impacts of cooperatives in Kenya.

To elucidate the many ways in which cooperatives contribute to gender equality and women’s empowerment and how to enhance thier work, COPAC is collaborating with researchers on a literature review, sector analysis and full report on the topic.

Kicking off this research at the event was researcher Dr Nadya Weber, who presented a COPAC policy brief on the subject of gender in cooperatives.

The UN observance was attended by more than 40 participants.

Download the COPAC’s Cooperatives, Women and Gender Equality policy brief.

Download the event programme.

Download the remarks and presentations of:

  • Tamara Vrooman (Vancity)
  • Sharon Brennen-Haylock (FAO)
  • Dr Esther Gicheru (Co-operative University College of Kenya)
  • Dr Nadya Weber (Independent Researcher for COPAC)

Watch the event.

See articles about the event by UNDESA and The Co-operative News.