Co-operatives have been acknowledged as associations and enterprises through which citizens can effectively improve their lives while contributing to the economic, social, cultural and political advancement of their community and nation. The co-operative movement has been also recognized as a distinct and major stakeholder in both national and international affairs. On July 2, cooperatives all around the world will celebrate the 100th International Day of Cooperatives. A decade on from the UN International Year of Cooperatives, which showcased the unique contribution of cooperatives to making the world a better place, this year’s— “Cooperatives Build a Better World”— echoes the theme of the International Year. Operating all around the world, in many different sectors of economy, cooperatives have proven themselves more resilient to crises than the average. They foster economic participation, fight against environmental degradation and climate change, generate good jobs, contribute to food security, keep financial capital within local communities, build ethical value chains, and, by improving people’s material conditions and security, contribute to positive peace. Co-operatives’ open membership model affords access to wealth creation and poverty elimination. This results from the co-operative principle of members’ economic participation: ‘Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their co-operative.’ Because co-operatives are people-centred, not capital-centred , they do not perpetuate, nor accelerate capital concentration and they distribute wealth in a more fair way. Co-operatives also foster external equality. As they are community-based, they are committed to the sustainable development of their communities – environmentally, socially and economically. This commitment can be seen in their support for community activities, local sourcing of supplies to benefit the local economy, and in decision-making that considers the impact on their communities.
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