The global forum and workshop, Harnessing the Cooperative Advantage to Build a Better World, was successfully held on 4-6 September 2012 at the United Nations Conference Centre (UNCC) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The forum was an opportunity for the exchange of ideas with and among experts on the cooperative enterprise model and development. The outcome of the forum would serve to inform the intergovernmental processes at the United Nations, providing expert opinions in the formulation of the International Plan of Action on Cooperatives, a proposed outcome of the International Year of Cooperatives, as well as input to the Report of Secretary General to the 68th Session of the General Assembly in 2013.
The forum explored the advantages of cooperatives as a means of self-help, and of social and economic strengthening in communities around the world. The event featured dialogue between academic experts, cooperatives, the NGO community, government representatives, donors and international organizations and was aimed at highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the cooperative business model as an avenue for individual and community development. The discussions at the forum not only provided ideas and tools for how to harness the cooperative model as a viable means of sustainable living, but also offered opportunities for capacity-building for individuals and organizations, as participants explore strategies for engaging cooperatives in addressing various social and economic challenges at the local and global levels.
An initiative of the Division for Social Policy and Development in the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the event was held in collaboration with the African Centre for Gender and Social Development at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and in consultation with the Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives and the Ethiopia IYC National Committee. The event was a major contribution to the International Year of Cooperatives, linked to the IYC objective of promoting the formation and growth of cooperatives among individuals and institutions to address common economic needs, and for socio-economic empowerment.