Co-operatives can be the way to greater resilience in the coronavirus crisis

Co-operatives have provided essential assistance to their members in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic

Oficina de Evaluación Independiente del FIDA  -   Women packing cashew products at an IFAD-supported cooperative in Namasigüe, Honduras

"The COVID-19 pandemic and the climate emergency reveal the fragility of our societies and our planet. This dual crisis is disproportionately affecting the world's most vulnerable countries and populations, in addition to exacerbating many social and economic fractures," said the United Nations Secretary-General in his message for the International Day of Cooperatives.

António Guterres said that the crisis the world is going through makes clear the need to strengthen global cooperation and solidarity. In this context, he considered that this year's world day celebrated every 4 July underlines the contribution of cooperatives in addressing the pandemic and climate change, in moving towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and in forging an inclusive and equal future.

Essential assistance to its members

The International Labour Organization (ILO) reinforced Guterres' statement, adding that despite being affected by the coronavirus pandemic, cooperatives, like other social and solidarity economy enterprises around the world, have played a role in providing vital assistance to their members by adapting their services and facilitating contact with governments and social partners at the local level for those who needed support.

ILO Director-General Guy Ryder explained that during the VICT 19 crisis, producer and consumer cooperatives had been instrumental in maintaining supply chains for essential goods and services by focusing on their communities and relocating economies. "Financial cooperatives have established solidarity funds to support businesses and vulnerable populations. Industrial, social and worker cooperatives have transformed their products and services to meet the pressing local demand for protective equipment, food, supplies and social care," Ryder stressed. He added that this approach "based on local resources makes it possible to help communities in times of crisis, while facilitating climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Principles of solidarity

In the same vein, António Guterres emphasized the principles of community support, democratic self-government, promotion of decent work and environmental protection of cooperatives. "Cooperatives and other social and solidarity economy enterprises can lead the way to greater resilience in these times of crisis," said the Secretary-General, urging that this International Day serve as a reminder of the important role of cooperatives in promoting solidarity at this trying time for the human family.