The United Nations celebrated the closing of the International Year of Co-operatives at its New York headquarters by looking forward into the Co-operative Decade.
‘Promoting Co-operatives beyond 2012’ was the theme of the IYC Closing Ceremony held between 19-20 November where co-operative leaders and UN representatives discussed the strength of co-operatives.
The event opened with a session on Global Food Security and the role of co-operatives, followed by the Youth Forum, discussing how more young people can become involved in co-ops.
Vincent Lokin, the Executive Director, Cooperative Banking and Sustainability at Rabobank, opened the two day event. He said co-ops were key to fighting food insecurity: “As united we stand, divided we fall. It is now the moment to pick up our responsibility to build on a better world! The IYC is coming to an end, but the power of co-ops certainly is not."
Dame Pauline Green, President of the ICA, agreed that co-ops played a vital role in food security, fighting unemployment and tackling the economic crisis. She said: "There is in fact irrefutable evidence that the co-operative model of enterprise is working in the real economy to push back against a tide of global trouble, not just in the developing world.”
The second day saw the official closing of the IYC. Statements from the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon and the Director General of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, José Graziano da Silva were read out by representatives.
Ban Ki-moon said co-ops helped to empower people everyday. “We know there continues to be a hunger for policies and approaches that address social and economic goals that go beyond a one-dimensional bottom line,” said the UN Secretary General. “By emphasising core values, co-operatives help advance a vision that embraces social objectives into the business model.”
José Graziano da Silva said: “The FAO will continue to support and encourage its member governments to put into place an enabling environment for co-ops.” He explained: “A dream that we dream alone is only a dream, but a dream that we dream together becomes real.”
Finally co-op leaders shared research gathered across the year from various conferences. This included the ICA General Assembly in Manchester and the International Summit of Co-operatives in Quebec.
Dame Pauline Green presented the Blueprint for the Co-operative Decade and the World Co-operative Monitor. She said the Blueprint was “not the strategy for the ICA, this is a strategy for the whole Co-operative Movement.”
Monique Leroux, Chair of the Board, President and CEO of Desjardins, also officially presented the Quebec Summit declaration to the UN.
As well as a Youth Statement, the Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives (COPAC) released a statement that called for more organisations to join its directive to increase the awareness of co-operatives. The event ended with the IYC Short Film Festival and Awarding Ceremony, with seven films on co-operation from around the world.