6th July is the International Day of Cooperatives Cooperatives build a better future for all

Ranjan K Baruah
Working in a team yields more results than working individually and there is a joy of team work. Team is not only for games but also for many other activities. One may earn for oneself but when we come together and work together and earn in a team and also make a positive impact in society is always satisfying. Let’s understand about cooperatives and its importance to bring a better future for all of us.
A cooperative is defined in the Statement on the Cooperative Identity as “an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise.” In simple words, cooperatives are people-centred enterprises owned, controlled and run by and for their members to realise their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations. It brings people together in a democratic and equal way.
The model is more based on values than business and it is managed in democratic way though sometimes we see that there are few individuals who want to make it a family entity by engaging family members. It allows people to take control of their economic future and, because they are not owned by shareholders, the economic and social benefits of their activity stay in the communities where they are established.
We should know that more than 12% of humanity is part of any of the 3 million cooperatives on earth; the 300 largest cooperatives or mutuals report a total turnover of 2,409.41 billion USD while providing the services and infrastructure society needs to thrive; cooperatives contribute to the sustainable economic growth and stable, quality employment, providing jobs or work opportunities to 280 million people across the globe—10% of the world’s employed population.
This year on July 6, cooperatives around the world will celebrate the International Day of Cooperatives (IDC) with the theme "Cooperatives Building a Better Future for All". Cooperatives will have the opportunity to showcase their current and historical contributions to building a sustainable future, accelerating efforts to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by 2030. The theme aligns well with the objectives of the upcoming United Nations Summit of the Future whose theme is "Multilateral solutions for a better tomorrow".
Celebrated worldwide for more than a century and officially proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly on the centenary of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) in 1995, the IDC is annually commemorated on the first Saturday of July. The 2023 UN Secretary-General Report on Cooperatives in Social Development acknowledged that coope- ratives have a track record of promoting the economic and social development of all people including marginalized groups.
In November 2023, the UN General Assembly adopted the resolution A/RES/78/175 on cooperatives in social development calling for the proclamation of 2025 as an International Year of Cooperatives. The resolution encourages all Member States, as well as the United Nations and all other relevant stakeholders, to take advantage of the International Year of Cooperatives as a way of promoting cooperatives and raising awareness of their contribution to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and to overall social and economic development.
The ICA was founded in London, England on 19 August 1895 during the 1st Cooperative Congress. In attendance were delegates from cooperatives from Argentina, Australia, Belgium, England, Denmark, France, Germany, Holland, India, Italy, Switzerland, Serbia, and the USA. Representatives established the ICA's aims to provide information, define and defend the Cooperative Principles and develop international trade.
Ministry of Cooperation in India was created by transferring the existing entries related to cooperation and cooperative in the business of the erstwhile Ministry of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare vide Cabinet Secretariat’s Gazette Notification dated 6th July, 2021. The Ministry is responsible for providing a separate administrative, legal and policy framework for strengthening the cooperative movement in the country.
We are aware that the main principles of cooperatives include open and voluntary membership; democratic member control; members' economic participation; autonomy and independence; education, training, and information; cooperation among cooperatives and concern for community. We must ensure that our cooperatives work in the true spirit so that it can bring positive changes in the society. Our involvement in a democratic manner would strengthen the cooperatives.  (With direct inputs from UN publications)