Keynote address at the 4th International Conference on Cooperatives (ICOOP2022)

By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the 4th International Conference on Cooperatives (ICOOP2022), 17 November 2022, Laguna, Philippines

Statement | Laguna, Philippines | 17 November 2022
  • Chancellor of UPLB, Chancellor Jose V. Camacho, Jr.
  • Dean of the College of Economics and Management, Dean Agham C. Cuevas; and
  • Director of ICOPED and Chair of ICOOP2022, Director Liezel S. Cruz
  • Ladies and gentlemen, good morning!
It is a pleasure to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the International Day of Cooperatives with you all today. This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the ILO Recommendation 193 on the Promotion of Cooperatives and the 10th anniversary of the United Nations International Year of Cooperatives.

Another important landmark this year was the 110th International Labour Conference (ILC) in June. The ILC adopted conclusions on decent work and the social and solidarity economy (SSE), highlighting the importance of cooperatives in poverty reduction, recovery and resilience building.

This conference on “Cooperative Identity, Integration, and Impact”, allows us to raise awareness on cooperatives and to promote the values of mutualism, self-help, and solidarity.

I am glad to recognize our long-standing partnership with the Philippine cooperative movement. Collaboration with the Cooperative Development Authority and the Philippine cooperative community is an integral aspect of ILO’s work in this field, given the country’s pioneering position and strong presence in the Asia-Pacific movement.

We have worked together in recent years, at national, regional, and international conferences and workshops, where ICOOP has played a key role. The Philippines’ cooperative community was a strong partner towards the adoption of the ILO Centenary Declaration on the Future of Work and the “Guidelines concerning Statistics of Cooperatives.”

Recently, we have also collaborated on the social and solidarity economy, responsible supply chains, risk mitigating financial services and the digital wage payment.

We have an ongoing partnership on the digitalization of micro, small and medium enterprises to strengthen resilience of cooperative enterprises in pandemic and post-pandemic eras, and the capacity building of apex financial cooperatives.

Cooperatives have stepped up as valuable partners in emergency response to support their members and their communities, putting people’s needs at the core.

As with Philippine cooperatives and SSE organizations, various types of cooperatives worldwide have contributed to the COVID-19 recovery:
  • Producer and consumer cooperatives kept supply chains of essential foods and goods moving during the COVID-19 lockdowns and mobility restrictions.
  • Industrial, worker, and social cooperatives collaborated with local and national governments and transformed their products and services to meet urgent local demand for protective equipment, food, supplies, and social care.
  • Financial cooperatives have set up solidarity funds to support local micro and small business and members repay loans.
  • Cooperatives and other SSE organizations of informal workers have provided assistance, advocated for government support, and ensured a steady flow of work for their members who were among the first to lose their livelihoods.
Cooperatives also contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation through local resource-based approach, specifically by offering mutual crop insurance products to sustain local farmers; encouraging crop diversification as means of drought resilience; and improving watershed management to conserve natural resources.

New cooperatives are driving transition to community-owned renewable energy, harnessing wind and solar power and biogases.

As climate-induced crises such as super typhoons, flash floods and droughts intensify, cooperatives will become even more vital. As the world continues to suffer from global crisis on food, energy and finance rooted in extreme climate and accelerated by the Ukraine conflict, agricultural cooperatives should be a critical part of the strategy to strengthen local food production and security, especially in areas where most farmers are small and informal.

Cooperatives contribute to reduce child labour, forced labour, and workplace discrimination. Cooperatives have also supported persons with disabilities as well as migrants and refugees, through workplace inclusion and social integration.

In the informal economy, cooperatives helped workers transition to formal work arrangements and secure better conditions by increasing their bargaining power. Domestic workers, for example, have improved their conditions of work through cooperatives.

Faced with rapid rise of the platform economy, cooperatives of gig workers such as delivery riders and freelancers play an increasingly vital role in tackling informality and decent work challenges of this new work modality.

Cooperatives must be recognized as full-fledged enterprises, sources of decent work, and long-term partners in building more resilient communities and boosting local economies.

Cooperatives and other members of the social and solidarity economy are crucial to both the short-term and long-term solutions we implement and envision as we build back better from multiple crises.

As we work to make the future of work more human-centred, fairer and greener, which serves people and planet together, we must ensure that cooperatives remain crucial actors and partners they have always been.

We at the ILO look forward to continuing to collaborate with our cooperative partners in the Philippines and worldwide towards a human-centred future of work that leaves no one behind.

Mabuhay po kayo (long live)! Maraming salamat po (Thank you very much)!