Currently, ICETT is implementing four main themes in its first working cycle for 2020 – 2021. Working groups have been formed for each theme to collaborate and find innovative ways to stimulate and strengthen cooperative entrepreneurship.
- SDG 8 - Future of Work
- SDG 12 - Human Rights in Value Chains
- World Cooperative Monitor and SDG 13
- Cooperative Identity & Comparative Advantage
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SDG 8: Future of Work
The world of work is undergoing disruptive changes due to current technological advancement. People are laced with fear and foreboding due to forecasts of the number of jobs that could be lost to automation as employers choose to replace people with robots. The combined impact of these challenges will require fundamental transformations at an individual, organisational, and community level to adapt systems of work, innovation, learning, and social protection to the new context. Cooperatives have the opportunity to create an alternative social and economic model that entails a robust entrepreneurial sustainability element and resilience such that technological advances will bring new, more productive, sustainable, and fulfilling ways to work.
Cooperatives play an essential role in bringing income-generation opportunities to society in the developing and emerging economies, especially to marginalized groups such as women, youth, and people living with disabilities. They support and strengthen the economic activities of self-employed producers and entrepreneurs in the informal economy through various forms of shared services. They provide them a formal framework through which their economic activities can be recognised as real businesses, and members can negotiate with public authorities to introduce appropriate social security and protection schemes.
ICETT will work towards looking for opportunities in which cooperatives could substantially contribute to tackling some of the challenges foreseen in the world of work and promote the cooperative model as a creator of quality and decent jobs at the local, national and international levels.
Therefore, this working group’s first objective is to focus its efforts on better understanding the specific contribution of cooperatives to SDG Goal #8: Decent Work and Economic Growth and its evolution.
The second objective is to develop indicators that are not present in SDG Goal #8, and that is more in line with the specific contributions of cooperatives to the future of work. Other activities will include:
- Alternatives to the disruption of digital platforms through alternative models.
- Combat informal work; and
- Democratising the workplace through participatory governance
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SDG 12 - Human Rights in Value Chains
Cooperatives, a people-centered business model that places people before profit, have a natural attribute to human rights. They are based on the values of self-help, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. Cooperative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others. These values are embedded in the cooperative principle of concern for the community.
In human rights practices, cooperative play a significant role in implementing social responsibility. To a large extent, the cooperative movement is the pioneer of developing and implementing corporate social responsibility. Besides, cooperative culture is based on humanitarianism, that encourages respecting people, caring about people, and putting people first. Thus, it is the most proper and effective business model to realize human development and economic and social rights.
They actively participate in the global food system and occupy various positions across the value chain ranging from producers, workers, transport, consumers, and recycling. Their uniqueness from other business models is found in their structure, values, and principles. Cooperatives ensure that their members and stakeholders receive a more significant share of the value of their products. They have driven a fairer distribution of value and control to ensure they achieve most of their main goals in eradicating poverty, hunger, and inequality. However, there is still an untapped opportunity to create a fairer and more sustainable food system and supply chains through innovative approaches in the production and distribution of food to promote equitable societal outcomes.
Since respecting human rights is a shared responsibility, this working group aims to draft a statement for cooperatives on Human Rights in value chains.
ICETT will use the statement to call upon the cooperative movement and other relevant stakeholders, in the spirit of cooperation among cooperatives and concern for community, to align their operations with cooperatives principles and UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights and to protect the fundamental rights of workers in their value chains. It will also serve as a platform to share best practices and point out areas that need to be improved regarding human rights in value chains and advocate for worker’s social protection and rights.
Also, the statement will partly focus on eliminating child labour and all its forms in society. It will call upon cooperatives to engage in community mobilisation and awareness-raising campaigns among their members and within the communities where they operate and provide guidance and community leadership in putting measures for elimination of child labour. This statement will be timely as the UN has declared 2021 the International Year of Elimination of Child Labour.
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World Cooperative Monitor (WCM) and SDG 13
The World Cooperative Monitor (WCM) is a project promoted by the ICA with the scientific support of Euricse aiming at maintaining an up-to-date database on large cooperatives to monitor and demonstrate the impact of the large cooperatives, from both an economic and social perspective. Not only has it been a crucial tool to raise the profile of cooperatives to policymakers and industry professionals, but it has also provided an essential starting point for researchers and academics. This group will use the WCM to support and add value to ICETT.
SDG 13 on Climate Action urges everyone to take action to combat climate change and its impacts. SDG 13 targets specific issues including the need to increase countries' resilience to natural disasters, and the need to improve education and raise awareness on climate-related issues. The Cooperatives for Climate Action theme was chosen this year for International Day of Cooperatives to address cooperatives' contribution to combating climate change and support SDG 13.
Climate change is an increasing disaster risk for millions of the world's most vulnerable people as they are susceptible to severe droughts, toxic air pollutants, rising sea levels, and more powerful and frequent natural disasters like hurricanes and floods. These risks are causing grievous impacts on people's livelihoods, particularly in the remote rural areas of developing countries.
Though climate experts have provided many viable solutions to climate change, such as mitigation approaches through adaptation measures and appropriate natural resources management to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, there is still a lot that needs to be done. Effective climate change adaptation and mitigation will be best achieved through collective action.
The cooperatives' wide-range membership places them in a unique position to raise members' awareness about the importance of reducing their carbon footprints and lobbying governments in an aspiration to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly. Cooperatives in the agricultural sector, agroforestry, renewable energy, and waste management have actively engaged in green transition areas and circular economy to mitigate climate change effects.
Climate change can be effectively tackled through complementary and coordinated efforts by all relevant stakeholders. Hence, cooperatives can help their members and the community in managing climate risks by conducting capacity-building programs to enhance their knowledge in adhering to environmental standards and limiting greenhouse gas emissions.
Therefore, this working group’s main aim is to improve the recognition of cooperatives' contributions towards the achievement of SDG 13 and show how the cooperative business model offers practical and efficient solutions in taking action against climate change.
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Cooperative Identity & Comparative Advantage
The Statement on the Cooperative Identity includes definitions, values, and principles intended to guide cooperative organizations. It states that a cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.
Cooperatives adapt and change as the world changes, and the needs and aspirations of their members vary. Therefore, it is important to discuss how cooperatives can use their identity to remain relevant in the future.
This working group's objective is to analyse areas that give the cooperative business model a competitive advantage over other business models. It will make recommendations on how cooperatives can leverage their identity, values, and principles while developing robust business strategies and marketing their products and services. They will also elaborate on how these two concepts of cooperative identity and comparative advantage can be managed and reinforce the entrepreneurial aspect of cooperatives. Their findings will be shared with the cooperative movement during the 33rd World Cooperative Congress scheduled to be held in Seoul, the Republic of Korea, in 2021.