Wednesday, November 2, 2016


The United Nations proclaimed 2012 the “International Year of
Cooperatives”, and invited the world to take a fresh look at cooperatives
and mutuals. That same year, Quebec City, Canada, hosted the first
International Summit of Cooperatives. The final declaration of that
unprecedented meeting and the implementation of the International
Co-operative Alliance’s Action Plan for a Cooperative Decade, affirmed
the importance of the cooperative and mutual movement worldwide.
In 2014, at the second edition of the International Summit of
Cooperatives, the cooperative and mutual movement set itself the
objective of demonstrating the capacity of cooperatives to innovate and
adapt. As a result of the discussions that took place at that event, the
participants indicated their wish to promote the emergence of more and
stronger innovative cooperatives. The goal was to get cooperatives to
come together to ensure food security, to pursue their role as creators
of wealth and employment, and to intensify their actions to promote
access to health care and services, and to financial services, for all
people, as well as to continue supporting sustainable development.
In 2016, the cooperative enterprises gathered in Quebec City addressed
the issue of cooperatives’ capacity to act in the social, environmental
and economic spheres. In regard to the UN Sustainable Development
Goals (SDGs) to 2030, cooperatives and mutuals recognize that they are
a significant lever for introducing sustainable development strategies
and for resolving the key global issues.
Declaration (preliminary)
In terms of Goal 17 of the UN’s sustainable development program, which encourages effective partnerships
among governments, the private sector and civil society to ensure successful sustainable development,
cooperatives are also aware of their duty to help introduce solutions.
Cooperatives also highlight the central role of young people and women in achieving those sustainable
development goals, and are aware of the upcoming challenges that will have to be overcome so that these two
groups can become full partners in achieving those goals. Cooperatives undertake to place a priority on getting
youth and women to participate in decision-making processes. Women and youth must become involved in
serving as agents of change.
With more than 1.6 million enterprises, 1.3 billion members and close to 15% of the global economy,
cooperative enterprises were the first group of enterprises worldwide to endorse the UN Sustainable
Development Goals. Cooperatives maintain that, due to their cooperative nature and values, they are in a
position to fulfil the organization’s commitments to sustainable development to everyone’s benefit.
More than ever, the cooperative business model meets the new expectations of consumers, who demand that
businesses be more socially and economically responsible, and support sustainable development. The Summit
helps strengthen these cooperative enterprises by forging alliances, providing managers with numerous tools,
developing new markets, and promoting the growth and development of the cooperative model in an
increasingly competitive and constantly changing economic and financial world.
Convinced of the cooperative business model’s significance in achieving the sustainable development goals, the
cooperative movement has set itself the objective of promoting its growth and the reputation of its enterprises.
By 2030, the cooperative movement hopes to represent:
2 billion members,
4 million enterprises, and
20% of the global economy.
The cooperatives that attend the 2016 International Summit of Cooperatives are aware of the colossal efforts
that will have to be made to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and are convinced of their central
role in the process, and as a result have identified five areas where their power to act can be put to good use.
Whereas food security pertains to access to healthy, nutritional and sufficient nourishment for everyone to
ensure that they can be active and healthy;
Whereas, despite the progress made over the last two decades in developing areas, at 795 million, the number
of under-nourished people around the world is a source of great concern;
Whereas by the middle of this century, the global population will have reached 9 billion people, and in order to
feed all those people, agricultural production will have to rise by 60%;
Whereas a host of phenomena, including urbanization, climate change, armed conflict, speculation and natural
catastrophes may compromise food security, the eradication of hunger and the reduction of poverty;
Whereas cooperatives directly help achieve Goal 2 (no hunger) and goals 1 (no poverty) and 3 (good health) of
the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development;
Cooperatives therefore undertake to support global food security by:
becoming an indispensable tool for organizing and marketing agricultural production;
improving the productivity and sustainability of family and small agricultural operations;
facilitating access to agricultural lands and water, as well as to maintaining local properties;
improving small agricultural producers’ access to the following essential instruments: markets, energy,
financial services, information, knowledge and technologies;
fostering the new generation of agricultural producers, namely by helping young people get established;
giving small agricultural producers a voice so that governments can pass and implement effective policies;
supporting the role of women in agricultural production by helping with their training and access to
information and technologies; and
helping to mitigate the impact of food insecurity on young people, particularly the rising cost of staples
and lost harvests.
Whereas more than 200 million people are unemployed in 2016 and that this number is expected to rise over
the coming years;
Whereas young people, particularly young women, are overrepresented among the unemployed, and close to
30% of young people do not have a job or go to school or receive training;
Whereas vulnerable employment is spreading in emerging countries, developing countries and developed
countries, and the number of workers in vulnerable employment is currently 1.44 billion;
Whereas income inequalities keep rising, even in advanced economies;
Whereas cooperatives represent more than 250 million jobs and play a key role as creators of quality
Whereas cooperatives directly contribute to achieving Goal 8 (Good jobs and economic growth), as well as
Goals 4 (Quality education), 5 (Gender equality), and 10 (Reduced inequalities) of the UN 2030 Agenda for
Sustainable Development;
Cooperatives therefore undertake to help improve the global employment situation by:
encouraging entrepreneurship, in particular among youth and women;
facilitating the emergence and development of small and medium-sized enterprises;
promoting and offering jobs that ensure a decent quality of life;
promoting education, training and skills development among youth; and
enabling the most disadvantaged, namely women, to gain access to decent jobs, including self-
employment, in order to be able to build up assets and have an impact on decisions about growth and
economic development.
Whereas health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being;
Whereas 400 million people do not have access to essential health care services, and 6% of the inhabitants of
low or intermediate income countries live in extreme poverty due to their health care expenses;
Whereas improving health and well being largely depends on efforts to implement universal health-care
coverage, which many countries still do not have;
Whereas even in developed countries people sometimes do not have access to health care and social services
for different reasons, including an inadequate geographic distribution of doctors and health care centres and
services, to the detriment of remote areas or disadvantaged urban areas;
Whereas in many countries population growth or aging complicate access to health care services;
Whereas cooperatives and mutuals are in a position to implement practical and original solutions for handling
many of the challenges related to improving access to health care and social services; and
Whereas cooperatives directly contribute to the achievement of Goal 3 (Good health), as well as Goal 1 (No
poverty) and Goal 10 (Reduced inequalities) of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development;
Cooperatives therefore undertake to contribute to better access to health care and social services by:
protecting people against financial risks related to health care and social services, including the
purchase of medication;
improving the geographic distribution of health care and social services to the benefit of remote areas
and disadvantaged urban areas;
making available the full range of health care and social services to vulnerable and marginalized
enabling communities to take charge of the prevention, health care and social services that they need,
and to develop an integrated person-centred approach;
fostering the ability of seniors and persons who are losing their autonomy to remain in their homes; and
working with governments and supporting non-governmental partners to improve health care for
women and girls, who are often deprived of the most elementary care and who are at the greatest risk.
Whereas more than 2 billion adults do not have access to financial services;
Whereas financial inclusion is a key factor in the fight against poverty;
Whereas access to savings products has an impact on making women autonomous, on productive investment,
on consumption, and on improving productivity and income;
Whereas access to a checking account could be a springboard to help people take charge of their development;
Whereas financial cooperatives are true motors of financial inclusion; and
Whereas cooperatives can provide effective solutions to the challenges of poverty and financial inclusion and
directly help achieve Goals 1 (No poverty), 4 (Quality education), 8 (Good jobs and economic growth) and 10
(Reduced inequalities) of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development;
Cooperatives therefore undertake to help improve access to financial services and to promote financial
inclusion by:
strengthening financial cooperatives to that they can offer reliable and affordable financial services;
using technology to offer financial services to geographically, economically or socially excluded
promoting economic empowerment through small loans to low-income persons and communities;
promoting savings and financial education among people and communities;
enabling low-income people and their families to improve their financial security;
helping women become more autonomous by facilitating their access to financing, training and
knowledge and skills development; and
enabling young people to have access to opportunities, technologies and education in order to improve
their political, social, democratic and economic impact.
Whereas climate change poses a tremendous threat to the future of societies and biological systems on the
Whereas the atmosphere is warming due to greenhouse gas emissions produced by human activity, which leads
to a rise in the number of natural disasters that threaten food production, among other things;
Whereas greenhouse gas emissions must urgently be significantly reduced in order to limit global warming;
Whereas tremendous efforts will be required to achieve the goal set in the Paris Agreement, adopted on
December 12, 2015 following COP21, to keep temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-
industrial levels, and to pursue the actions to limit this increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius; and
Whereas cooperatives are in a position to help address several challenges related to Goal 13 (Climate action), as
well as Goals 6 (Clean water and sanitation), 7 (Renewable energy), 11 (Sustainable cities and communities) and
12 (Responsible consumption) of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development;
Cooperatives therefore undertake to contribute to sustainable development and to act in order to limit climate
warming by:
making the public and businesses aware of the impact of greenhouse gas on the climate and fostering a
stronger culture of sustainable development;
helping to carry out and finance green renewable energy projects;
supporting the development and application of energy efficiency measures;
protecting populations against the risk of natural catastrophes associated with climate change;
preserving ecosystems and biodiversity, namely by promoting sustainable forest development and smart
promoting gender equality and the autonomy of women in the mitigation and adaptation to climate
change in order to achieve equitable and inclusive sustainable development: it should be possible for
women to be heard at every level of decision-making, not only in families but also at the political level;
supporting young people so that they can play an active role in protecting the environment and finding
innovative solutions to climate change.
The power to act of cooperatives is far-reaching, and extends to most of the sectors targeted by the Sustainable
Development Goals. The global cooperative movement undertakes to facilitate the Co-ops for 2030 platform in
order to make a tangible contribution to the introduction of solutions around the world.
In a context marked by the resurgence of protectionism, the closing of borders and individual disillusionment, as
much as the pursuit of globalization, a connectivity never before seen in the history of humanity and the rise of the
collaborative and circular economy, the cooperative model, more than ever, is a response to the challenges posed
and the opportunities that arise. By committing to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and adopting growth
objectives for 2030, the global cooperative movement is demonstrating and exercising all its knowhow and its
power to act.


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