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International Day for Cooperatives
Special Event
17 October 2001

Panel on "The role of cooperatives in poverty reduction"

Organized by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs

Venue:  Conference Room 8   

Time: 1.15 to 2.45 p.m.


In observance of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, a panel discussion on the role of cooperatives in poverty reduction was organized by the Division for Social Policy and Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs. The purpose of the panel discussion was to highlight the important role cooperatives are playing towards achieving the Millennium development goals of full and productive employment, eradication of poverty, social integration and the advancement of women. The Panel Discussion was chaired by H.E. Mr. José Roberto Andino Salzar, Permanent Representative of El Salvador to the United Nations. 

The following experts on cooperatives participated in the Panel:

  • Mr. Mwelukilwa Joshua Sizya, Director of Research and Consultancy, Cooperative College, Moshi, Tanzania;

  • Mr. Christopher Johnston, Manager of Research and Business Development, Canadian Cooperative Association;

  • Ms. Lucy Izumu Ito, Vice president, World Council of Credit Unions.

The Role of Cooperatives

In his message on the occasion of the International Day of Cooperatives, the Secretary-General observed that: "Cooperatives are at work in almost every country and economic sector. More than 760 million people around the world are engaged in the cooperative movement. Whether a rural cooperative in Benin, which ploughs back profits into building reservoirs and upgrading roads, or a savings and credit cooperative in Sri Lanka, providing insurance and postal services to its members, a cooperative can play a significant role in fulfilling development objectives." It is generally recognized that cooperatives respond effectively to the ever-changing needs of people. For example, in response to the effects of globalization, people continue to choose cooperatives to address their needs. In a number of countries, people are starting new cooperative enterprises in such areas as social care and information technology. Women and youth are also choosing the cooperative form to start enterprises of their own, thus creating new jobs and opportunities. The cooperative advantage extends to the users of cooperatives and indeed to the communities in which they operate. Cooperatives set industry standards by putting into practice their values and ethics. In some countries, cooperatives are seen as leaders in promoting food safety and security, and in protecting the environment. Still in others, cooperatives are building peaceful societies by promoting understanding and collaboration among people of different cultural and income backgrounds. The values of cooperation - equity, solidarity, self-help and mutual responsibility - are the cornerstones of cooperatives and should be sustained so that cooperatives can continue to respond with flexibility and innovation to changes and challenges posed by globalization which has yet to benefit that part of the world's population which lives on under $2 a day.



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