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COPAC shares with UN ambassadors how cooperatives end poverty

In a high-level luncheon at the United Nations in New York, more than 40 guests representing COPAC member organizations, Member States, UN agencies and cooperatives met to discuss the ways in which cooperatives eradicate poverty and what governments and the international community can do to help them flourish.

COPAC co-hosted the event with the Permanent Mission of Mongolia, which has steadfastly promoted cooperatives as an essential voice in the sustainable development conversation.

The event was opened and moderated by His Excellency Mr. Sukhbold Sukhee, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Permanent Representative of Mongolia to the United Nations. The Ambassador introduced the event by discussing the cooperative identity, how cooperatives are unique as people-focused enterprises and how the UN has endeavored to support cooperatives.

Vinicius Carvalho Pinheiro, Special Representative to the United Nations and Director of the International Labour Organization Office for the United Nations, then shared how cooperatives are contributing to fair and decent work. He highlighted the important initiative that COPAC is undertaking to improve statistics on cooperatives, as data is crucial to fully understanding cooperatives’ impact on poverty, and announced the 2018 theme for the International Day of Cooperatives (IDC). He closed by inviting guests to participate in the social media campaign to select the accompanying IDC slogan.

Daniela Bas, Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD) for the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), described the human focus of cooperatives and the UN’s increasing support for the cooperative movement. She placed the discussion in the context of the ongoing negotiations of the 56th Commission for Social Development.

From the cooperative perspective, guests heard from Ariel Guarco, President of the International Co-operative Alliance, about the economic and social force of cooperatives and the commitment of cooperatives to the 2030 Agenda, as evidenced by the Coops for 2030 campaign.

Nandini Azad, President of the Indian Cooperative Network for Women, shared her organization’s experience with helping rural women in the informal economy transition out of poverty, secure their livelihoods and seek lifetime development opportunities. She urged the cooperative movement to lead by example by promoting more women to leadership positions.

Lamont Spence and Iris Negron of Cooperative Home Care Associates in New York demonstrated how their cooperative is improving the lives of its members and workers by ensuring a sustainable, democratic business that invests in the future of its community.

John Mulangeni Nkosi of the Malawi Federation of Cooperatives spoke about how cooperatives make a difference in Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world. He described cooperatives as a solution to end poverty, and encouraged guests to take action to support them with only 12 years to go in the 2030 Agenda framework.

The interactive discussion animated by Ambassador Sukhee saw remarks of support from Vietnam, Bulgaria, New Zealand, Ecuador and Canada and national perspectives on the state and tradition of the cooperative movements in those countries.

In her closing remarks, Carla Mucavi, Director of the FAO Liaison Office with the United Nations, made a call to action to all guests in attendance to continue the conversation through increased collaboration, future knowledge sharing and events, awareness raising and consolidated efforts to improve the quality of cooperative data. She also encouraged the cooperative movement to continue strengthening its efforts to create opportunities for women and youth.

For more details, please consult the programme for the luncheon.