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The International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) renewed their Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the ILO headquarters in Geneva on June 24, 2019. The MoU signed by Ariel Guarco, President ICA and Guy Ryder, Director General ILO reiterates the commitment of the two organization to their 100 years of association. From its very beginning, the ILO has recognized cooperatives as an important tool to achieve its mission.


Dr. Ariel Guarco, President, ICA (left) and Mr. Guy Ryder, Director General, ILO (right) after the signing of the MoU. Image credit: ICA



Speaking on the occasion, President Guarco said, “ICA had to be here at the 100th anniversary celebrations of the ILO! We share common deep-seated values and commitment to a human centered approach with decent work at its core.” Director General Ryder in his keynote address said, “we are committed to carrying in our second century a human centered approach to future of work which resonates with cooperative values and principles and for a continued partnership with coops for sustainable development.” The conference was attended by representatives of governments, international agencies, ICA members and supporters.


Jangkeun Lee, Permanent Ambassador from the Republic of Korea and Dr. Ramin Behzad from the Islamic Republic of Iran representing their governments said that cooperatives are effective tools to solve issues in the labour market and address concerns around instability and inequality. There is the need for new forms of cooperative effective laws, and robust statistics. Wenyan Yang from UNDESA in her presentation said, “Cooperatives as business enterprises with solidarity link well with the SDG agenda. We support coops by research (demonstrate evidence), capacity development (run business better) and advocate (gov create environment). Reema Nanavaty, from SEWA Federation and member on the ILO’s Commission on Future of Work stressed on the need for a worker centered approach with workers as owners of cooperatives and SSEs. Such enterprises have a core role due to their focus on trusteeship, their non-political nature, and emphasis on distribution of income and equality.


The second part of the ILO-ICA Joint Conference saw a presentation of the book “Cooperatives and the World of Work” (Routledge, 2019). The book is a culmination of four years of collaboration between the ILO, the ICA Committee on Cooperative Research and CICOPA. It brings up a wide array of issues and situations that illustrate the past collaboration and reflect on the future that the ILO, its constituents, and the cooperative movement will act upon.