June 19, 2018 marked a historic meeting between the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) and the National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA (NCBA CLUSA) recognizing the importance of international unification and collaboration to effectively advance the cooperative movement. These two organizations represent over 1.2 billion members of cooperatives and credit unions internationally and 110 million members in the United States.
Held in the state of Alabama in the Southeastern U.S., the meeting was marked by a shared experience that recognized the significant contributions made by cooperatives in the fight for justice and equality during the U.S. Civil Rights movement. On June 18, the board members of both organizations traveled to Birmingham, Selma and points in between—including the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the site of the violent confrontations involving voting rights activists in 1965, and the National Voting Rights museum.
The occasion served as an example and inspiration of the potential for positive change when people work together in cooperation. The event made clear that cooperatives build a better world through a more inclusive economy, affording individuals and communities the ability to establish more equitable, democratic and sustainable communities that foster growth and stability.
As an initial expression of this historic occasion, we jointly recognize the opportunity presented by the International Day of Cooperatives celebrated on July 7, 2018 to advance the commitment of the cooperative movement to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal’s (SDGs), which seek to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure all people enjoy peace and prosperity.
Through the slogan “Sustainable societies through cooperation” this international celebration demonstrates that cooperatives have sustainability and resilience at their core, with concern for community as the seventh of the principles of cooperation. These guiding principles provide a roadmap that empowers individuals and communities to continue on the path of economic and social change.
By their very nature, cooperatives play multiple roles in the economy and their communities:
- As economic actors, they create opportunities for jobs, livelihoods and income
- As people-centered enterprises with social goals, they contribute to social equity and justice
- As democratic institutions, they are controlled by their members, playing a leading role in society and local communities.
With this declaration, we urge the cooperative communities in the U.S. and internationally to lift up cooperative enterprise as a proven strategy to empower people to build more inclusive, sustainable economies by participating in the International Day of Cooperatives. Here are a few ways that cooperatives and their members can participate:
- Pledge your co-op through the coopsfor2030.coop campaign to show its commitment to the SDGs
- Use the #coopsday hashtag, logo and other resources from the Cooperators’ Guide to post videos and photos on social media and online
- Organize a celebration that showcases your cooperative’s contributions to sustainability and send us your plans at firstname.lastname@example.org; we’ll include it in an interactive map
- Share case studies showing how #coops build “Sustainable societies through cooperation”
Through our commitment to continued collaboration, we will lift the collective voices of the international cooperative movement in support of building more equitable, democratic and sustainable communities and champion the establishment of an economy that is inclusive of all peoples.