As we all know, today the whole of humanity is in the midst of an awful pandemic, with a very high cost in lives and a historic global economic debacle.
But let’s look at the context: we are experiencing a health, social and economic crisis of extremely fragile conditions due to the prevailing social inequalities and the profound environmental imbalance that human actions have been causing on our Mother Earth for several decades.
In line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we have been warning that a linear mode of unhindered production and consumption will lead us to a point of no return in a mere decade.
Since 1990, global carbon dioxide emissions have increased by 50 percent. Today, 800 million people are vulnerable to severe drought, toxic air pollutants, rising sea levels and frequent and powerful natural disasters.
That is why I want to take advantage of this International Day of Cooperatives to emphasise Climate Action, an objective that calls on us to mobilise together with our communities to build a healthier, fairer and more united economy.
On this planet, our shared home, there are hundreds of thousands of experiences showing that there are indeed other ways for us to develop, that sustainable development is not a utopia.
On a global scale, the cooperative economy integrates more than one billion members and generates employment for 10% of the world’s employed population. The turnover of the 300 largest cooperatives is equivalent to the Gross Domestic Product of the world’s sixth economy.
Today, even under the most difficult circumstances, the cooperative movement is doing everything in its power to protect communities and help them overcome this health, social and economic emergency.
The defence of our planet goes hand in hand with our collective effort so that no one is left behind.
The cooperatives are called to be protagonists in meeting these challenges, which are becoming urgent in the wake of this pandemic from which the entire world is suffering.
Despite the pain and uncertainty we are experiencing, the personal and collective tragedy that some must face more directly than others but that affects us all, I want to celebrate the work that cooperatives are doing all over the planet.
All effort counts. I ask you not to stop, to continue to work together with your community and to raise your voice loudly on this day to tell the world that we can reverse the adverse effects of climate change if we build another economy together, based on cooperative values and principles.
There’s still time! Let’s act together for the climate now!
Sending you all my warmest regards and wishing you a Happy International Day of Cooperatives.
President, International Cooperative Alliance