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The National Co-operative Union of India (NCUI) organized a symposium on ‘Co-operatives and SDGs: Members’ Participation’ on 20th September at the NCUI premises. The event was attended by members of NCUI as well as ICA-AP staff and a group of young students from Delhi University. The keynote address was delivered by Mr. Balu Iyer on the main theme of the symposium. Mr. Iyer began his presentation by asking the audience on how many SDGs they thought co-operatives were helping achieve? The audience named a few of the SDGs, and on that note Mr. Iyer presented 17 cases of co-operatives depicting how they were helping achieve each of the SDGs.

 

The main objective of his presentation was to help the audience understand that co-operatives have always cared for the community, built sustainable businesses, created livelihoods, and cared for the environment. It is upto us to showcase the work we’re doing, in the language of the SDGs, and build a strong case for co-operatives being an ideal vehicle for the delivery of SDGs. Mr. Iyer also highlighted what the co-operatives need to do in terms of systematically achieving the SDGs by registering pledges on the coopsfor2030.coop website, presenting their work at various national and international events meant for SDGs like the HLPF of the UN, and most importantly by collecting reliable data on the work that they were doing.

 

 

He made a brief mention of the ongoing engagement between ICA-AP and the students of Delhi University on the creation of student co-operatives in the University. The students from two colleges had carried out a survey and reached out to 500+ respondents; all of whom were university students. The survey was intended as a needs assessment to procure information on what are the needs of the students which can be fulfilled via a co-operative on campus. The responses were quite encouraging, but there was also a concern about students lacking clarity on what co-operatives are, and which are the co-operatives around them. This is also an indicator of the efforts co-operatives need to put in to be visible in the mainstream domain.

 

The presentation was well-received and was followed by an interactive Q&A session. Members from the audience spoke of the work they were doing, sought help on how they can highlight this work at various Forums and thanked the Speaker on lucidly explaining this widely debated issue.