International Year of the Cooperatives-A A +A
Friday, September 14, 2012
2O12 is a very special year for the one billion members of cooperatives worldwide as it was declared by the United Nations as the International Year of the Cooperatives (IYC).
With the theme “Cooperative enterprises build a better world,” it is the stand of the United Nations that the DNA of the cooperatives has come of age to respond to the problems besetting humanity.
By nature and nurture, cooperatives are members-owned, they are value-based and that their enterprises are sustainable, meaning, ecologically sound, socially just, economically viable and morally tenable.
Thus, in a world beset with unbridled materialism and consumerism based on a growth-at-all-cost development paradigm that is only successful in sacrificing the people and nature to the altar of greed and profit, cooperativism offers an alternative paradigm that put people and the environment as priorities rather than profit and business. In a world where only an elite few control the global economy, cooperativism offers a growth that is inclusive, rapid and sustainable.
In declaring a year for the cooperatives, the United Nations is cognizant of the cooperatives’ vital role in making life better for the poor, the downtrodden and the oppressed. The cooperatives worldwide are responsible in the creation of some 100 million jobs, 20 percent bigger than what multi-national corporations have.
Cooperatives have exemplified not only social responsibility but in effecting social changes as they are more transformative than transactional.
To underscore such truism, the seven million cooperative members in the Philippines through their 21,500 cooperatives nationwide are actively participating in the global celebration with the theme “Transformative cooperatives for the 4Ps (People, Planet, Prosperity and Peace).
The Philippine cooperatives are trumpeting the need to transform a highly skewed societal order where only 400 families control the economy into a socially just and economically viable country where the benefits of development must accrue to welfare of the People.
The cooperatives are staging a clarion call for the sons and daughters of Mother Earth (Planet) to stand to regain back ecological integrity by healing the blighted land back to life. We are now in the 12th year of the 21st century but we are not anymore certain if we can reach the 22nd century, which is only 88 years from now. The earth is warming and the seas are rising.
Based on the recent NASA report, in the next 10 months, the Earth’s temperature will rise by four degrees Celsius. For every one degree increase, there will be a corresponding 10 percent reduction of food production. Every day, 1,000 hectares of iceberg are melting that contribute to the rising of the sea. As predicted by scientists, many islands in Asia will be under water in the coming decades.
It has become imperative to stop our accelerating drive towards ecological disasters. The cooperatives are now frontlining the cause of the Planet in the yearlong celebration.
While the essence of cooperativism is to uproot the causes of poverty and to advance social justice for Prosperity and Peace, we are very much aware that such cannot be done if the people remain powerless to have access and control over their resources and utilities, which are fast slipping through their fingers. This is the reason why they are now up to the task of empowering the marginalized sectors to be drawn into the mainstream of development processes.
I firmly believe that cooperativism is an idea whose time has come especially in a country that is so rich ecologically but poor economically because of the people’s powerlessness to benefit from so-called development.
More than a business enterprise, a cooperative is a tool of empowerment not only politically but more so, economically. Cooperatives are people binding themselves together to collectively harness their collective potentials and energies. It is only when the poor binds themselves together to craft their own destiny can they give meaning to that constitutional provision that “sovereignty lies with the people and all governmental powers emanate from them.”
However, in resource-rich Mindanao described as the “food basket” of the nation, yet, many are hungry and poor. Such has become a paradox.
This year, 2012 is the pivotal period for cooperativism to shine to rectify social wrongs committed against the people and the environment. In this struggle, the people, through their cooperatives, shall be victorious based on the truism that, “The People United, Can Never be Defeated.”
Join us as we celebrate 2012 as the International Year of the Cooperatives. (Orlan R. Ravanera)
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 15, 2012.