Jay Owen Reforming Global Finance, Community Development Solutions


The International Day of Cooperatives provides an opportunity to spotlight how such enterprises canhelp build resilience in all socio-economic spheres in times of “globaluncertainty,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Saturday.“Over the course of the ongoing global financial and economic crises,financial cooperatives have proven their strength and resilience,benefitting members, employees and customers,” said Mr. Ban in his messagemarking the Day, which this year is on the theme, “Cooperative EnterpriseRemains Strong in Times of Crisis.”With the world facing multiple crises, and with natural disasters testingeven the most robust economies and communities, cooperatives have meanwhilemaintained high credit ratings, increased assets and turnover, and expandedtheir membership and customer base, the UN chief said.“After disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis and floods, cooperatives haveshown their ability to mobilize solidarity for reconstruction,” hecontinued, noting that agricultural cooperatives improve the productivity offarmers by facilitating access to markets, credit, insurance and technology.Providing a further example, Mr. Ban explained that social cooperatives canprovide an important safety net in the face of declining or minimal publicwelfare. They also show considerable potential for empowering youth andalleviating the growing global youth jobs crisis.“On this International Day of Cooperatives, I call on Governments toencourage policies to support and strengthen cooperatives so they cancontribute fully to inclusive and sustainable development,” he said.In his message, Guy Ryder, Director-General of the UN International LabourOrganization (ILO), praised the Day’s theme as “a positive and encouragingaffirmation at a time when confidence in enterprises and their respect forbasic human values and ethical principles has often been badly shaken.”“The celebration of International Cooperative Day is a welcome reminder thatsolidarity generates strength and the capacity to build, and that effectiveorganizational and business models can indeed be founded on values ofjustice and solidarity,” Mr. Ryder added.A recent ILO study, “Resilience in a downturn: The power of financialcooperatives,” showed that financial cooperatives out-performed traditionalinvestor-owned banks before, during and after the global financial crisis in2007 and 2008 and pointed to their long-term stability. “Importantly, theykept credit flowing to small and medium-sized enterprises — the main sourceof job creation,” he said.“Worker cooperatives are growing in response to new economic realities andthe survival rate of such cooperatives in several countries appears to equalor surpass that of conventional firms,” the ILO chief continued, adding thatthe enterprises have also stood the test of time in delivering a range ofsocial services to their members, while consumer cooperatives help with thecost of living.“As global attention focuses on the challenge of sustainable development,cooperatives can and must play a key role as creative enterprises expandinginto new and innovative areas,” Mr. Ryder said, citing such spheres asrecycling and renewable energy, providing people with know-how, inputs,finance and markets at fair prices with low-environmental impact.In so doing, they will be making a valuable contribution to a justtransition to a low-carbon sustainable development path. “From the world ofwork perspective, cooperative enterprises are well placed to be leaders inadvancing the decent work dimension of a just transition,” he said.