On December 18, 2009, the United Nations General Assembly, with the support of the Government of Canada, passed a resolution proclaiming 2012 the International Year of Co-operatives. The theme of the year was Co-operative Enterprises Build a Better World, in recognition of the contribution co-ops make to the social and economic well being of communities. The UN has designated International Years to draw attention to major issues and encourage international action for concerns with a global impact since 1959. 2012 was the only time that an International Year had been dedicated to a form of business, speaking volumes of the impact co-operatives make worldwide.
The UN resolution, entitled “Co-operatives in Social Development”, recognized the diversity of the co-operative movement and urged governments to take measures aimed at creating a supportive environment for the development of co-ops.
Canada is home to some 9,000 co-operative organizations serving 18 million members. In 2012, those millions of members united to prove how co-operatives could create a better future for Canada—to show Canadians what their model could offer that other forms of enterprise could not. The result: Hundreds of events that reached hundreds of thousands of people, dozens of new programs aimed at educating members and others about co-operative values, and thousands of co-ops rallying around the IYC theme and adopting the IYC logo.
In this report, a number of successful endeavours and more challenging aspects of the International Year have been documented as a way to help move Canada’s co-operatives towards the future.