2012: International Year of Cooperatives!

Today, the U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution declaring 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives--that is, businesses that belong to their workers or the people who use them. (Thanks, Michael!)

"This will bring cooperatives to center stage in world development, and have profound effects on the cooperative movement around the globe," says the UN. "The resolution urges governments to collaborate with the cooperative movement in order to eradicate poverty, generation full and productive employment and the enhancement social integration." Here's the resolution:

Cooperatives in social development

The General Assembly,…Recognizing that cooperatives, in their various forms, promote the fullest possible participation in the economic and social development of all people,… are becoming a major factor of economic and social development and contribute to the eradication of poverty…

Proclaims the year 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives…

Encourages all Member States… to take advantage of the Year as a way of promoting cooperatives and raising awareness of their contribution to social and economic development...

Encourages Governments… to enhance the growth and sustainability of cooperatives in a rapidly changing socioeconomic environment by, inter alia, providing a level playing field for cooperatives vis-à-vis other business and social enterprises, including appropriate tax incentives and access to financial services and markets;…

Urges Governments…to give due consideration to the role and contribution of cooperatives…by, inter alia:

(a) Utilizing and developing fully the potential and contribution of cooperatives for the attainment of social development goals, in particular the eradication of poverty, the generation of full and productive employment and the enhancement of social integration;

(b) Encouraging and facilitating the establishment and development of cooperatives, including taking measures aimed at enabling people living in poverty or belonging to vulnerable groups, including women, youth, persons with disabilities, older persons and indigenous peoples, to fully participate, on a voluntary basis, in cooperatives and to address their social service needs;

(c) Taking appropriate measures aimed at creating a supportive and enabling environment for the development of cooperatives by, inter alia, developing an effective partnership between Governments and the cooperative movement through joint consultative councils and/or advisory bodies and by promoting and implementing better legislation, research, sharing of good practices, training, technical assistance and capacity-building of cooperatives, especially in the fields of management, auditing and marketing skills;

(d) Raising public awareness of the contribution of cooperatives to employment generation and to socio-economic development, promoting comprehensive research and statistical data-gathering on the activities, employment and overall socio-economic impact of cooperatives at the national and international levels…

Invites Governments, in collaboration with the cooperative movement, to develop programmes aimed at enhancing capacity-building of cooperatives, including by strengthening the organizational, management and financial skills of their members, and to introduce and support programmes to improve the access of cooperatives to new technologies …

Also invites Governments and international organizations, in collaboration with cooperatives and cooperative organizations, to promote, as appropriate, the growth of financial cooperatives to meet the goal of inclusive finance by providing easy access to affordable financial services for all…

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