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The International Year of Cooperatives

International Credit Union Day - Make it Co-operative Poster

The United Nations International Year of Cooperatives 2012 officially began on 31st October 2011. Co-operatives worldwide united in celebration with the theme "Cooperative Enterprises Build a Better World." 
This is the first time the United Nations has awarded a business model an "International Year" designation. To commemorate the event, more than 150 leaders from some of the world's largest cooperatives gathered in New York in October 2011 for the official launch.  They discussed how to foster conditions that will ignite cooperative enterprise growth throughout the decade.
UN General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz al‑Nasser, said that enterprises organised around cooperative principles — self‑help, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity — reduced poverty, created jobs and promoted social integration, and did so with a firm belief in the ethical values of openness, honesty, social responsibility and caring for others.
Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, said that it was important to remember that mutual dependence was an increasing feature of modern life, but added: “We must do more than simply talk about our interdependence”. It was not “anti‑wealth” to say that “wealth must do more than serve the wealthy”; it was not anti‑competition to say that, without cooperation, competition might not lift us up, but pull us down.
Dame Pauline Green, President of the International Co-operative Alliance also addressed the UN General Assembly and emphasised the important role co-operatives play in global sustainable development and financial stability: "In these economic hard times when financial institutions are failing, credit unions and banking co-operatives have been able to weather the storm. For the world's economies and the public that invests their money, this is of critical importance."
"In naming 2012 the U.N. International Year of Cooperatives, the United Nations has both recognised and honoured the important role that credit unions and other co-operatives play on the global stage," said Brian Branch, World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) president and CEO and one of 20 global leaders invited to serve on the International Year of Cooperatives Advisory Group. "Now it is up to us to advance the good work we have already started."
In the UK and internationally, credit unions which are financial co-operatives, have seen fantastic growth in recent years with 53,000 credit unions working to provide affordable financial services to 188 million members in 100 countries. 


Learn more about co-operatives in the UK at
Follow the launch of the International Year of Co-operatives across the world here.