MADISON, Wis. — World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) is setting wheels in motion to make sure credit unions play a highly visible role in the United Nations' International Year of Cooperatives (IYC) in 2012. The year-long designation will commence following a kick-off event at the end of October 2011, at the U.N.'s New York City headquarters.
Utilizing the theme "Co-operative enterprises build a better world," IYC is designed to raise public recognition of cooperatives' socio-economic impact worldwide, especially among younger adults whose personal values coincide with cooperative principles. Organizers hope the higher levels of public recognition will promote the formation of new cooperatives and foster legislative and regulatory environments conducive to cooperative formation and growth.
"In the wake of the global economic recession, the cooperative model has again proven its worth," said Pete Crear, WOCCU president and CEO. "The U.N.'s designation of 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives is both an honor and an opportunity not only for credit unions, but for cooperatives of all types."
Organizers met at the United Nations earlier this month and are establishing a high-level advisors group for the year, as well as a full-time New York-based U.N. secretariat responsible for managing the development and promotion of IYC activities. The committee will garner financial economic support from the cooperative sector and stakeholders to support IYC activities. A commemorative IYC logo also is under development, with an unveiling expected in the first quarter of 2011.
As a model of economic enterprise, cooperatives promote both democratic and human values, as well as a respect for the environment. They are autonomous associations of people united voluntarily to meet common economic, social and cultural needs through jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprises. Cooperatives are driven by seven principles: voluntary and open membership; democratic member control; member economic participation; autonomy and independence; education, training and information; cooperation; and a concern for community.
"We're encouraging credit unions and cooperatives everywhere to capitalize on the opportunity to raise awareness of the value cooperatives offer among their communities," Crear said. "This is a rare opportunity for all of us in the business of serving members to gain a high level of global recognition, both for the benefit of our own institutions and the cooperative movement worldwide."
World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development agency for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach.
World Council has implemented more than 290 technical assistance programs in 71 countries. Worldwide, 57,000 credit unions in 105 countries serve 217 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.