Co-operatives and the Sustainable Development Goals – combining economic and social impact to act for a better future
A one-day seminar was organized by ICA and the OCB system/OCESP and Unimed do Brasil on March 6 on the theme, Co-operatives and the Sustainable Development Goals – combining economic and social impact to act for a better future. There were three panel discussion with an impressive line-up of experts on, 1) SDGs and how cooperatives can act to achieve a new society, 2) Co-operatives and intrinsic model for economic growth and social inclusion and 3) Co-operative identity as a response to the reduction of inequalities and disparities.
Monique Leroux, ICA President in her opening remarks mentioned that co-operatives were the first economic group in the world to support SDGs and highlighted examples from the Asia Pacific and other regions. Maxwell Haywood, United Nations Focal Point on Co-operatives, lauded the work co-operatives do to achieve the SDGs. But he challenged co-operatives to expand on these achievements: “co-operatives are too shy in asserting their role, the world ought to hear and learn more about what this model offers and realises.” From the Asia Pacific region, Kenki Maeda, General Manager of JC-Soken highlighted the role played by Japanese cooperatives in addressing issues around aging. In Japan, there are 65 million members of co-operatives and 37% of the total households use consumer co-operatives. The economic growth in the country has brought on the one hand larger independence, but on the other hand, isolation. “To act against the isolation in Japan, the co-operative movement has initiated ‘chatting parties’ and ‘hangout places’ for elderly people to meet and voluntary health care services, as well as ‘area watching activity’ to keep the contact with isolated families and persons.”