14 February 2012

2012—International Year of Co-operatives

 "Cooperatives are a reminder to the international community that it is possible to pursue both economic viability and social responsibility." — United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

I heartily agree with the Secretary-General. Indeed, I believe that if we are to develop the culture of international co-operation that will be necessary to deal with climate change, to say nothing of other global problems, building more of our local, national and global economies with co-operative enterprises must play a major role. 

In seeming agreement, the United Nations has declared 2012 as the International Year of Co-operatives. In the UN's own words, "The International Year of Co-operatives is intended to raise public awareness of the invaluable contributions of co-operative enterprises to poverty reduction, employment generation and social integration. The Year will also highlight the strengths of the co-operative business model as an alternative means of doing business and furthering socioeconomic development." Information on events planned throughout the year, as well as suggestions on how to get involved and participate, can be found here. More than billion co-op members around the world will celebrate the Year.

Competition has its place, but co-operation is a higher human value and therefore a more moral basis for economic enterprise. And in the competitive world order we find ourselves in, as the UN has said, co-ops offers a real alternative. We are relentlessly subjected to the mantra, "we must compete in the global marketplace." It is time for a new and more civilized mantra. I suggest, "We must co-operate in the global society." May the International Year of Co-operatives help bring such a change about.

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