UN Press Release: Coop Leaders Meet on the 2nd Int'l Day of Coops

United Nations Department of Information 
Press Release ENV/DEV/370 27 June 1996


NEW YORK, 27 June (DPCSD) -- Cooperative leaders will meet at
United Nations Headquarters on 1 July in advance of the
International Day of Cooperatives. The event will include a panel
discussion on the contribution of the international cooperative
movement to the goals set at recent United Nations development
conferences held in Copenhagen, Beijing and Istanbul. The panel
will also focus on the cooperative sector's contribution to the
goals of the International Year for the Eradication of Poverty
(1996), the Decade designated for the same purpose, and the
forthcoming World Food Summit, to be held in Rome from 13 to 17

Chaired by the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Policy
Coordination and Sustainable Development, Nitin Desai, the panel
will include representatives from the International Co-operative
Alliance; the World Council of Credit Unions; the International
Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation; the International
Federation of Agricultural Producers; the Egyptian Central
Agricultural Cooperative Union; the International Institute,
Histadrut, Israel; and the United States Overseas Cooperative
Development Council. In his message marking the Day, United
Nations Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali underlines the potential
of the cooperative movement and its people-centred enterprises
in the increasingly globalized economy: "The cooperative movement
and the cooperative sector offer a means, vital to many millions
of citizens, whereby goods and services may be efficiently
produced and consumed". This can be done, he says, "for purposes
that are consistent with the ethical premises of civilization and
by processes that remain within the democratic control of
individual citizens". Those purposes are "socially and
environmentally responsible and respect human dignity and the
stability of communities", he adds.

The theme of the Day -- "the contribution of cooperatives to the
eradication of poverty: empowerment for people-centred
sustainable development" -- builds on the social and economic
development goals set at recent major United Nations conferences.
The Copenhagen Declaration, adopted by the 1995 World Summit for
Social Development Declaration, commits States "to utilize and
develop fully the potential and contribution of cooperatives for
the attainment of social development goals, in particular, the
eradication of poverty, the generation of full and productive
employment, and the enhancement of social integration".

The Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995) emphasized
the ability of cooperatives to strengthen the economic capacity
of women and to facilitate their access to resources, including
credit and employment. The deliberations at the second United
Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II), held in
Istanbul earlier this month, emphasized the comparative advantage
of partnerships with the cooperative sector as an essential
component in developing housing and settlements.

The General Assembly proclaimed the International Day of
Cooperatives in resolution 49/155 of 23 December 1994 and invited
members of the international community to observe annually the
International Day of Cooperatives on the first Saturday of July
starting from 1995. The first commemoration held in 1995 marked
the centenary of the establishment of the International
Cooperative Alliance. The Alliance is an umbrella group of
organizations comprising 760 million members of cooperatives in
100 countries, thus, making it the largest non-governmental
organization having worked in consultative status with the
Economic and Social Council since 1945.

The international cooperative movement represents a significant
and substantive share of world-wide economic, social and
financial activity. For example:

-- Cooperative enterprises worldwide count more than 760 million
women and men as member-owners;

-- About 3 billion persons worldwide belong to households of
cooperative members benefiting from the income and access to
goods and services;

-- Twenty per cent of the population aged fifteen to sixty years
in developing countries, 33 per cent in developed countries and
39 per cent in countries with economies in transition, are
members of cooperative

-- Some 330,000 cooperatives worldwide are owned by agricultural
producers and function as group purchasing, common service and
marketing enterprises in 47 countries, with over 180 million
members, which generate a turnover equivalent to over $455

-- The portion of individual agricultural commodities marketed
through cooperatives account, for example, for 71 per cent of
Canadian grains and oilseeds; 90 per cent of Uruguayan dairy
products; 49 per cent of Turkish cotton; 64 per cent of Brazilian
wheat; 97 per cent of Danish pigs; 95 per cent of Swedish dairy
products; 100 per cent of Panamanian potatoes; 78 per cent of
Nicaraguan maize; and 95 per cent of Japanese rice;

-- In the United States, rural electricity cooperatives serve 25
million persons. Farmland, a Fortune 500 corporation and the
largest United States agricultural cooperative, has a revenue of
$6.7 billion;

-- About 33,000 savings and credit cooperatives worldwide
("credit unions") count around 88 million members with savings
equivalent to $377 billion, loans of $250 billion, reserves of
$13.8 billion assets of $418.4 billion;

-- Housing cooperatives count 3 million persons in the United
States, 600,000 families in Sweden, and more than 1 million
families in Spain; and

-- Health cooperatives owned by their 39 million users operate
in 14 countries.

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NOTE: More information may be obtained from the United Nations
Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development,
Division for Social Policy and Development, Focal Point for the
Promotion of Cooperatives, fax (+1 212) 963-3062.

(SOURCE:  http://www.un.org)