International Day of Cooperatives is celebrated on the first Saturday of July every year. It was first celebrated under the auspices of the United Nations in 2005, though its history as a day celebrated by the international cooperative movement and the International Co-operative Alliance goes back 1923.
The aim of the International Day is to increase awareness on cooperatives and promote the movement's successes and ideals of international solidarity, economic efficiency, equality, and world peace.
The International Day also aims to strengthen and extend partnerships between the international cooperative movement and other actors, including governments, at local, national and international levels.
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.
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.
Despite their local community focus, co-operatives also aspire to bring the benefits of their economic and social model to all people in the world. Globalization should be governed by a set of values such as those of the co-operative movement; otherwise, it creates more inequality and excesses that render it unsustainable.
The cooperative movement is highly democratic, locally autonomous, but internationally integrated, and a form of organization of associations and enterprises whereby citizens themselves rely on self-help and their own responsibility to meet goals that include not only economic, but also social and environmental objectives, such as overcoming poverty, securing productive employment and encouraging social integration.
“Cooperatives are answering the wake-up call of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who warned that the world is ‘on the edge of an abyss — and moving in the wrong direction’, and exclaimed that ‘to restore trust, and inspire hope, we need cooperation, we need dialogue, we need understanding’.
"For nearly two centuries, cooperatives have been pulling in this direction. This was amply highlighted at the 33rd World Cooperative Congress, held by the International Cooperative Alliance in December 2021, which focused a spotlight on how their shared identity is moving cooperatives to take action to address the world’s problems.”
- Bruno Roelants, Director General of the International Cooperative Alliance.
The United Nations invites cooperatives around the world to celebrate how the human-centred business model, inspired by the cooperative values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity and the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others, is building a better world.
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.