Historic conference jointly organised by the ILO and the ICA on ‘Cooperatives and the Future of Work’

24 Jun 2019

Today, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) have organised a joint conference on ‘Cooperatives and the Future of Work’ in Geneva, following the 108th International Labour Conference (ILC) as the ILO is commemorating its centenary.

ICA’s President Ariel Guarco and ILO’s Director-General Guy Ryder signed the new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) as a sign of renewed friendship. As both recalled, the first ILO’s DG Albert Thomas came from the cooperative movement and was part of ICA’s Board in the 1920’s. The document states that its main purpose shall be to “foster collaboration [...] in areas of promotion and strengthening of the cooperative enterprise model”. In that respect, both commit to promoting cooperatives as a “sustainable business model to advance inclusive and sustainable development”. Read the press release for more information. 

Both the conference itself and the new MoU are historic landmarks for the development of cooperatives as the ILO also adopted on 21 June the ‘ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work 2019’, in which the role of cooperatives and the social and solidary economy in the future of work, in particular towards decent and sustainable work, was recognised. Read the dedicated news here.

For Ariel Guarco, “this mention in the Declaration [about cooperatives] is very significant for us, since it will allow us to carry out more advocacy work and public policy proposals favourable for cooperatives and will further strengthen the partnership that we are renewing today with the signing of a new agreement of collaboration between our two organizations”.

Guy Ryder underlined that "at the ILO we are committed to working with our constituents and the cooperative movement in supporting the creation of such an ecosystem that is conducive to the growth of cooperative enterprises. In these times of unprecedented change and of exceptional challenges in the world of work we look forward to continued partnership with the cooperative movement in this quest for sustainable development and a fairer, inclusive and more secure future of work with decent work for all."

During the ICA-ILO conference, representatives from the permanent representation of Iran, Korea and Uruguay took the floor underlining the role of cooperative for building a sustainable future of work-sharing concrete cooperative examples. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Deputy General Secretary Victor Baez noted how “the trade unions and cooperatives need to work together not only to save jobs but also to create jobs” and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) representative Wenyan Yang said cooperatives have a “big role to play to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.

Watch the full conference here:

Book launched

The ‘Cooperatives and the World of Work’ book was launched as part of the ILO - ICA Joint Conference. The publication is co-edited by authors from the ICA, the ILO and the International Organisation of Industrial and Services Cooperatives (CICOPA). With the uncertainty of the world of work and with the rise of technology, the book furthers the debate on the future of work, sustainable development, and the social and solidarity economy where cooperatives are major players.


Authors of the book

The publication was edited by Bruno Roelants (ICA), Hyungsik Eum (CICOPA - ICA), Simel Esim (ILO), Sonja Novkovic (ICA Research Committee) and Waltteri Katajamäki (ILO).

The President of Cooperatives of the Americas Graciela Fernandez closed the session highlighting the importance of the ILO’s centenary declaration and the memorandum of understanding as a significant recognition of the cooperative movement.