This book has been commissioned to highlight the significant contributions that the cooperative model of enterprise can make to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. The United Nations Millennium Declaration and its goals set out issues that must be addressed if we are to strengthen the foundations of a more peaceful, prosperous and just world. These Millennium Development Goals today are the focus of the worlds development agenda with multi and bilateral organisations, governments and civil society all seeking to find innovative ways to reach the goals by 2015. However, many are not taking into consideration the unique contribution that cooperatives can make, due in part to the fact that cooperatives have had a mixed history and the lack of visibility of the cooperative model. The author of this volume, Johnston Birchall makes an important point : the past record of those so-called cooperatives set up and controlled by government, and which miserably failed to lead to any economic and social development, are not part of the legacy of cooperatives as these are not true cooperatives. Thus, there exists the ever-important need to showcase what real cooperative enterprises have been and are capable of. The Cooperative Branch and the Policy Integration Department of the International Labour Office (ILO), and the Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives (COPAC) are pleased to jointly publish this book that highlights the accomplishment of cooperatives both in so-called developed and developing economies. Dr Birchall shows both conceptually and practically that cooperatives can be, and are, thriving enterprises which contribute in significant ways to reducing poverty, promoting gender equality, providing health care services, tackling the HIV/AIDS pandemic, ensuring environmental sustainability and working through partnerships with a wide range of actors. However, this study also shows that cooperatives are not yet involved as fully as they could be in the formulation and implementation of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers. Thus, efforts are still required by multi and bilateral agencies, governments, and civil society to ensure that people-centred, self-help enterprises cooperatives have an opportunity to participate fully in the development process. The review and case studies included in this book also benefited from discussion with development specialists from cooperative organisations, development agencies, United Nations agencies and the World Bank at a COPAC Open Forum on Cooperatives and MDGs which was held in Washington, DC (USA) in May of this year. With a movement that reaches over 800 million individuals, this book makes the case that the cooperative movement can be a key partner to reach the MDG targets. Cooperatives are improving the lives of people by raising their economic conditions, by promoting social integration and ultimately creating just those conditions that the Millennium Declaration foresees as being fundamental to building peaceful societies.
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