Ladies and Gentlemen
I join all of you today in celebrating the International Day of Cooperatives, a traditional commemoration that has been celebrated at the international level since 1927 and at the UN since 1995.
Cooperatives are very important in the world’s economic and social development, especially in the framework of Agenda 2030 with its focus on sustainable development, a shared vision for the future, and equitable and inclusive societies. So for the co-organization of this important side-event I wish to thank the COOP (International Cooperative Alliance), the COPAC (Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives), and our colleagues from the Permanent Mission of Mongolia, with whom we join forces at the UN to promote and strengthen the role and the social, economic and development value of cooperatives.
Indeed, cooperatives are present and sometimes deeply rooted in all the areas of the proposed sustainable development goals, with about one billion people affected and at least 100 million people employed worldwide. The 300 largest cooperatives in the world have collective revenues of 1.6 trillion USD, which is approximately the GDP of Countries like Spain.
In Italy cooperatives represent a growing sector that employs 1.1 million people, with an increased employment rate that is higher than the domestic average. Italy is home to approximately 80,000 cooperatives, and 30 of the 100 top domestic enterprises in terms of revenue are cooperatives. Our largest cooperative, the Coop, with an annual revenue of 13 billion euros, 7.5 billion members, and 57,000 employees, is a point of excellence and a historic example: it is constituted by a system of Italian consumer cooperatives that operates the largest supermarket chain in Italy, dating back to the 1854, when the first shop opened in Turin. The Italian government is deeply committed to further strengthen cooperatives and their social economy : a recent law approved last May* promotes the creation of social enterprises and of innovative start-ups, featuring normative, fiscal and welfare incentives for social enterprises. Our economy and society take a person-centered approach, in which the entrepreneurial model addresses the needs of the individual and of the society around him or her, and has democratic, multi-stakeholder governance.
This is also due to the structure of the Italian economy, whose enterprises, cooperatives and social enterprises have a shared vision of the human and social values behind each company, the territory in which they operate, and often a family-owned and value-oriented businesses. This vison resonates with Agenda 2030 and its paramount objective of attaining “durable, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and a decent job for everyone.”
Cooperatives are also deeply connected to women’s empowerment. The fundamental contributions of women to the economy and to sustainable development are at their best in the cooperatives model and micro-business activities, while helping to narrow the gender gap in the workplace.
I conclude by reiterating Italy’s steady support for the world of cooperatives and their contribution to sustainable development and the goals of Agenda 2030, carrying on the work being done here at the UN through, for example, the III C resolution on “Cooperatives in social development”, put forward by Mongolia with the heartfelt support of Italy.
Thank you very much.