The United Nations system values the important role of cooperatives in social and economic development. The World Summit for Social Development held in Copenhagen in 1995, and the General Assembly resolution 51/58 adopted in 1996, recognized the importance of cooperatives in the people-centred approach to development.
The Summit agreed to “utilize and develop 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.”(Commitment 9h)
Cooperatives and poverty reduction. Cooperatives, as self-help organizations, contribute to the eradication of poverty through the economic and social progress of their members and employees and by stimulating the economies and enhancing the social fabric of the communities in which they operate.
Cooperatives and employment generation. Cooperatives help to create, improve and protect the income and employment opportunities of their members by pooling the limited individual resources of members to create business enterprises that enable them to participate in production, profit-sharing, cost-saving or risk-taking activities.
Cooperatives and social integration. Cooperatives promote social integration and cohesion in the face of inequalities in social capabilities by empowering and giving voice to the poor as well as marginalized groups and by promoting the organization of federations and alliances.
In addition, cooperatives play an important role in an increasingly integrated
global economy as well as in fostering peacebuilding among peoples,
communities and nations.
Cooperatives and globalization. Cooperatives work towards fair globalization - one that is fundamentally inclusive, sustainable and people-centred – by creating business entities that promote solidarity among peoples, greater accountability, deeper partnerships and fairer rules and standards that offers equitable opportunities for all.
Cooperatives and post crisis/conflict, reconstruction and reintegration in disaster areas. Cooperatives through their economic model which stresses self-help and mutual aid, promote local economic and social development. Cooperatives also help facilitate social and political reconciliation, and provide access to financial services and spur employment, as exemplified in their valuable role in rehabilitating survivors of the East Asian Tsunami.
Towards this end, the United Nations Secretariat has designated the Division for Social Policy and Development of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs to monitor the promotion and development of cooperatives at the national and international levels. The Division acts as focal point on cooperatives and works collaboratively with the Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives (COPAC) in organizing expert group meetings (EGMs) and special events to mark the International Day of Cooperatives.