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Cooperatives and the Sustainable Development Goals: A contribution to the post-2015 development debate

International Labour Office – Geneva: ILO, 2014;

Fredrick Wanyama, 2014

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As we approach the Millennium Development Goals target date of 2015, regional, national and online thematic consultations have been taking place to frame the post-2015 global development agenda. A consensus on goals, targets and indicators for sustainable development will have to be reached before the end of 2015. The big questions revolve around the ways the international community

will respond to the pressing issues of economic development, environmental protection and social equity in a sustainable manner.

Among the preliminary findings of these consultations, is that job creation and concerns about the quality of jobs – especially in the informal economy - are top priorities in most countries, and will remain a major challenge well beyond addition to creating new jobs, good quality jobs are a prerequisite for dignity for all. The ILO Decent Work Agenda of job creation, rights at work, social protection and social dialogue has been recognized as among the guiding principles at the debate. Achieving sustainable development must include the world of work.

As values-based organizations, cooperative enterprises provide livelihoods for millions of people around the world, and are by nature sustainable and participatory form of business. They can be found in all sectors of the economy, and place emphasis on job security and improved working conditions, pay competitive wages, promote additional income through profit-sharing and distribution

of dividends, and support community facilities and services such as health clinics and schools. In addition, cooperatives foster democratic knowledge and practices and social inclusion, making them well-placed to support the achievement of sustainable development. Cooperatives have also shown resilience in face of the economic crises.

An important dimension of the contribution of cooperative enterprises to sustainable development has been acknowledged in the global consultations on growth and employment: The role of cooperatives in expanding social protection to the informal sector. Promoting cooperatives, it was noted, could empower farmers to negotiate for better agricultural inputs and produce prices.

Indeed, cooperatives have all along delivered towards sustainable development, and this contribution should be further emphasised and acknowledged.

The present publication is part of a wider initiative of the ILO to ensure that the voices of the cooperative movement are heard in the discussions around the post-2015 development agenda

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