ILO Cooperatives Unit (COOP)

Organizational description | 08 January 2016
This site is on the ILO’s Cooperatives Unit. For information on the ILO’s activities on cooperatives and the social and solidarity economy, see

From its creation in 1919, the ILO has recognized the importance of cooperatives as a means of pursuing its mandate to achieve social justice and full employment. The Cooperatives Unit of the ILO (COOP) has been a formal entity within the ILO since 1920. ILO COOP marks its Centenary in 2020. See here for more information about ILO COOP Centenary events and the history of the Unit.

Currently the ILO's activities on cooperatives and wider social and solidarity economy enterprises (SSEEs) are managed through COOP under the Enterprises Department and guided by the international standard on cooperatives, the Promotion of Cooperatives Recommendation, 2002 (No.193).

ILO COOP serves ILO constituents, cooperatives and other SSEEs through three-pronged strategy:
  • Advancing cooperatives and other SSEEs as economically, socially and environmentally responsible and viable business options particularly where they have an important role to play or provide services that are not otherwise provided toward a sustainable future of work through targeted interventions;
  • Encouraging the integration of decent work as a priority in the cooperative movement’s agenda in working on the development of cooperatives and other SSEEs and policies related to them; and
  • Ensuring that specificities of cooperatives, as associations of persons and as business enterprises, and SSEEs are recognized in analysis, policy, and actions toward achieving decent work and a sustainable future.

The following are the six operational areas of work where ILO COOP is working actively:
  • Providing legal and policy advice
  • Scaling up development cooperation
  • Upgrading training and capacity building
  • Deepening research and knowledge generation efforts
  • Strengthening partnerships
  • Expanding on communication & dissemination

The ILO works in partnership with the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA), the representative world body of cooperatives and is a member of the Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives (COPAC) , an interagency committee which promotes sustainable cooperative development. In March 2017 the ILO was appointed as a rotating chair of COPAC for a two-year period which was extended till 2020 upon the request of the members of the committee. The ILO is also a co-founder of the UN Task Force on SSE (TFSSE) in 2013. Since July 2014, the ILO has been the chair of the UNTFSSE which currently has 18 UN agencies as members and 13 civil society organizations as observers.

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