In his Keynote Address to the UN's Economic and Social Council in New York, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon. Bob Carr, urged the Council to take the "spirit of cooperation further".
Mr Carr took the opportunity of the UN's ECOSOC 2012 Development Co-operation Forum to speak of the importance of global co-operation in helping recovery from disasters such as the 2004 India Ocean Tsunami, the Haiti Earthquake and the Brisbane flooding in his own country.
He suggested that the Forum was "well placed to find new ways to make good old fashioned cooperation work better" and outlined three ideas for making that happen. Key amongst these was the idea that sustainable development relied on many forms of co-operation. Indeed, he felt the UN International Year of Co-operatives was a timely reminder to everyone that "we need to put people at the centre of this change - to empower them to make development happen".
Mr Carr gave noted his own country's contributions to help one such people centred co-operative, the Self-Employed Women's Association Bank in India and went on to say how important it was to support cooperatives because of their ability to create new opportunities and markets in areas beset by adversity such as famine or conflict.
In closing, the Minister urged the forum to push on from Rio+20 and deliver actions towards a sustainable future. A future where co-operative enterprises may hold the key.
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