Governments pledged to promote cooperatives within the framework of the UN 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development
In a historic first, national and local government authorities from 12 countries met with officials from the UN and the EU in Seoul, Republic of Korea, on 4 December to discuss strategies for the promotion of cooperatives.
The meeting gathered representatives from the Republic of Korea, SpainIran, France, Mexico, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Senegal, Israel, Mongolia, Egypt and Morocco, who shared how they are supporting the cooperative sector.
The event was organised by the International Cooperative Alliance and followed the World Cooperative Congress (1-3 December). Participants examined how governments can develop policies that leverage the cooperative enterprise model for a more inclusive and resilient recovery, and improve legislative and regulatory frameworks to create a supportive environment.
Welcoming officials, ICA President Ariel Guarco said: “The ICA, with 126 years of history, is the common home of all the cooperatives in the world and is at your disposal to contribute with each of the governments and with the entire international cooperation ecosystem. I am confident that we can increasingly strengthen our dialogue and consolidate the construction of regulatory frameworks that respect and strengthen our Cooperative Identity.”
Officials were also welcomed by Mun Seok-jin, president of SSEGOV (Association of Korean Local Governments for Social Economy and Solidarity) and Mayor of Seodaemun-gu district of Seoul.
“Our association tries to make the social economy more real in the local communities,” he said.
The opening remarks were followed by keynote speeches from seven central and local government officials: Chung Hyun-gon, president of Korea Social Enterprise Promotion Agency (KoSEA); Yolanda Díaz Pérez, Spanish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labour and Social Economy; Idoia Mendia, Second Vice President (Vicelehendakari) and Minister of Labor and Employment, Basque Government; Christophe Besse, Minister Counsellor, head of trade and economy section, delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Korea; Rodolfo Solano Quiró, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship, Costa Rica; Soham El Wardini, Mayor of Dakar, Senegal; and Juan Manuel Martínez, Director General of the National Institute of Social Economy, Mexico.
The second session, which looked at the UN Secretary General’s report on Cooperatives in Social Development, began with an address by Wenyan Yang, Chief, Social Perspective on Development Branch, UN-DESA. She said the UN recognised the critical role of cooperatives in social and economic development for the benefit of all people.
The session continued with interventions by seven government representatives on the UN SG Report: Sofia Margarita Hernandez Narajo, Superintendent SEPS, Ecuador; Gholamhossein Hosseininia, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor, and Social Welfare, Iran; Stéphane Pfeiffer, Vice Mayor in charge of employment, SSE, and innovative economies, City of Bordeaux in France; Maravillas Espín, Director General of autonomous work, social economy and corporate social responsibility, Spain; Yair Golan, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Economy and Industry, Israel; Yadamsuren Erdenesaikhan, Chair of SMEs Agency, Mongolia; and Hossam El Din Mostafa Rizk, Chair, General Authority for Construction and Housing Cooperatives, Ministry of Housing, Utilities and Urban Communities in Egypt.
In the second half of the session, participants explored the meaning of some of the recommendations made by the UN SG in his report. Hagen Henrÿ, Chair of the ICA’s Cooperative Law Committee, looked at the challenges of translating cooperative principles into law while Nazik Beishenaly, a researcher at the University of Leuven, introduced her recent study on how to build an ecosystem for cooperatives. Marie J Bouchard, President of the Scientific Commission on Social and Cooperative Economy, CIRIEC International, explored the challenges and opportunities brought by the harmonisation of statistics on cooperatives. And Andrew Allimadi, Coordinator of Cooperative Issues, UN-DESA, explained how his organisation supports cooperatives.
The third session looked at the growing interest of governments and intergovernmental bodies in the SSE. Speakers looked at the prominent role of cooperatives within the SSE, ahead of the 110th Session of the International Labour Conference (ILC) in 2022, which will hold a general discussion on the SSE for a human-centred future of work.
The session started with a video message from Vic Van Vuuren, Director of the Enterprise Department of the International Labour Organisation, highlighting the important relationship between the ILO and the ICA. “I have no doubt that the ILO will continue the century-old engagement with cooperatives in the years to come,” he said.
The session also featured Eva Cantele, General Delegate, SSE Forum International, who talked about the International Coalition on SSE; Beatrice Alain, Director-General of Chantier de l’ESS, Quebec in Canada; Moon Bo-Kyung, head of Gyeonggi Social Economy Support Centre, Republic of Korea; and Lawrence Kwak, Secretary General of the Global Social Economy Forum (GSEF).
The meeting ended with a session on collaboration and coordination in inter-governmental policy processes and a potential roadmap towards biennial intergovernmental meetings on cooperatives. Participants heard from Maud Caruhuel, Vice President, Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region, France; Kim Young Cheol, Director, Communication and Governance Bureau, Gyeonggi-do, Republic of Korea; Aminata Diop Samb, Director Municipal Development and Solidarity Fund, the City of Dakar; and María Ubarretxena, Mayor of Mondragon (Arraste in basque), in Spain.
ICA Director General Bruno Roelants concluded the meeting stating that the development of cooperatives is directly linked to that of SSE. He said the meeting could become a recurring event if there was interest in a multilateral dialogue with national and local governments and UN organisations.
The photos from the event are available here.