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UN holds soft-launch event for the 2025 UN International Year of Cooperatives

Three days earlier, cooperatives around the world had celebrated the International Day of Cooperatives with the theme "Cooperatives Building a Better Future for All".

NEW YORK, July 11, 2024 – The International Year of Cooperatives [IYC2025] celebrations kicked on Tuesday with a soft-launch event at the UN headquarters in New York.

The event was organised by the UN Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives [COPAC], in collaboration with the Permanent Mission of Mongolia, and Kenya to the United Nations, and took place during the UN High-Level Political Forum.

Three days earlier, cooperatives around the world had celebrated the International Day of Cooperatives with the theme “Cooperatives Building a Better Future for All”.

The IYC2025 will be officially launched during the ICA Global Cooperative Conference, scheduled for November 25-29, 2024, in New Delhi, India. The UN soft launch event served as a platform to deepen the theme of IYC2025, unveil the media package, and discuss the UN resolutions outlining the modalities for the IYC launch.

In the opening session, participants heard from UNDESA Director, John Wilmoth; International Cooperative AllianICA President, Dr Ariel Guarco, Permanent Representative of Mongolia to the UN, Ankhbayar Nyamdorj; and Ambassador/Deputy Permanent Representative of Kenya to the UN, Njambi Kinyungu.

Nyamdorj described his country’s work on supporting UN cooperative development discussions and resolutions. “We are encouraging fellow member states and institutions to form national and regional committees to organise events and activities commemorating and celebrating the International Year of Cooperatives,” he said.

Kinyungu explained that Kenya’s cooperative sector accounts for 23 percent of the country’s GDP.  “Kenya, through the bottom-up, economic, transformative agenda framework has placed cooperatives as a critical pillar in powering economic transformation and achieving our sustainable development goal,” she said.

Addressing delegates, Dr Guarco said the movement was proud of the IYC slogan – Cooperatives build a better world.

“We’re very proud of this, because it’s the daily action of all these cooperatives. And we also have a sense of responsibility. We know that the world is looking towards us, perhaps as they’ve never done before, to use cooperatives as the most direct vehicle towards sustainable development. Humbly, I think that we are up to this responsibility,” he said.

Paula Narváez, President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council [ECOSOC], also delivered a keynote in which she described some of today’s global challenges.

“The values and principles of cooperatives make them directly relevant to sustainable development. Participatory decision-making, democratic control by members, equality, solidarity, cooperation and concern for the community are fundamental principles that underpin cooperatives and allow them to contribute to improving the world. These fundamental principles must be promoted more widely so that they can help the world navigate the multiple crises that we currently face,” she said.

Wilmoth also urged national governments to intensify their efforts to meet the Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs]. “Cooperatives are an important component of this work,” he said, calling on cooperatives to demonstrate their relevance as values-based enterprises that build a better world. “In this work, let us ensure that we give priority to reaching those who are the furthest behind first,” he added.

During the event, countries and institutions were encouraged to form national and regional committees that will take the lead in organising events and activities for commemorating and celebrating the international year. The committee will bring together governments, cooperatives, UN agencies and other stakeholders, who will work to bring the cooperative identity to the wider public and ensure that at the end of the year 2025, cooperatives are better known, have a more conducive environment for their operations, and are better placed to support Member States in their efforts to achieve the SDGs.

ICA Director General, Jeroen Douglas, provided an overview of the upcoming ICA Global Conference in New Delhi, which will showcase how cooperatives build prosperity for all.

ICA representatives from the Asia-Pacific, Americas, Africa and European offices also shared details about their regional Plans for commemorating the year.

The ICA Global Conference is due to take place in India for the first time in its 130 years! The UN Permanent Representative of India, Ravindra, also took the floor to highlight the importance of the Indian cooperative movement with a combined membership of 300 million people.

“We are very happy to host the next global conference in New Delhi later this year, coinciding with the second International Year of Cooperatives. We hope the conference will help us to explore new areas of cooperation, exchange best practices, and learn from each other, particularly success stories,” he added.

Bringing the event to a close, COPAC Chair Wenyan Yang launched a call for action and highlighted some next steps for UN delegates, government officials, ambassadors and cooperators.

“Take advantage of the International Year to engage your community, to do your outreach, to make cooperatives more visible and better known,” she said.

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