ILO facilitates a visit by Japanese Consumers’ Cooperative Union (JCCU) to an Italian social cooperative

The visit by JCCU to Cadore Social Cooperative Society in Pieve di Cadore, Italy aimed to draw on its experience in local community development.

News | 29 May 2018
Italy has been a reference point on social cooperatives for practitioners and researchers on cooperatives and social and solidarity economy (SSE) from the Global North and South alike. Social cooperatives emerged in 1970s responding to the unmet needs of social and general interest services (e.g. welfare, healthcare, education, etc.) and/or for work integration of disadvantaged and marginalized people. Since the approval of the first social cooperative law in 1991 in Italy, the model has been institutionalized in various countries, the principles of which have been outlined in the World Standards of Social Cooperatives developed and approved in 2011 by CICOPA, a sectoral organization of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA). More recently, in Italy, an increasing number of community cooperatives have been emerging for general interest of a certain local community.

The ILO has been working on supporting the development of social cooperatives, including through research, policy advice, capacity building activities, and facilitation of the national and international dialogue. Among its activities is a partnership with the Japanese Consumers’ Cooperative Union (JCCU) in organizing an annual African cooperative leaders study tour to Japan that includes visits to social and worker cooperatives. Faced by rapidly ageing and shrinking population especially in the rural communities, Japanese cooperatives have been interested in advancing social and community cooperatives particularly in the context of developing their vision to be realized by 2030.

Representatives of Cadore and JCCU
It was in this context that JCCU representatives visited Cadore Social Cooperative Society (s.c.s) in the Veneto region of Italy in May with the facilitation of ILO. Cardore was established in 2008 as a B-type social cooperative to alleviate an unemployment crisis caused by the overseas relocation of an eyewear factories. With the aim of the social and labour market inclusion of disadvantaged groups, the cooperative provides various services of general interest in Pieve di Cadore (e.g. cleaning, maintenance and operation of facilities, tourism and cultural activities, etc.). In March 2018, it gained a recognition by the Welcome Project of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in promoting the labour placement of refugees and in supporting their integration.

The discussion included the different classifications and regulatory environment that facilitate social and community cooperatives in Italy, and a possible study visit by high-level Japanese cooperative managers to Cadore.