International Co-operative Alliance (ICA)





Founded in 1895 to promote the cooperative model, ICA is one of the oldest non-governmental organisations and one of the largest ones measured by the number of people represented: 1,2 billion cooperative members on the planet. It unites, represents and serves cooperatives, which are estimated to be around 3 million worldwide, providing a global voice and forum for knowledge, expertise and co-ordinated action for and about cooperatives.

It currently has over 310 member organisations from 110 countries. It is organised with a Global Office based in Brussels, four Regional Offices (Africa, Americas, Asia-Pacific, and Europe), eight Global Sectoral Organisations (agriculture, banking, retail, fisheries, health, housing, insurance, and industry & services), and five Committees and Networks (gender, research, law, youth, and development).

The ICA is the guardian of the cooperative definition, values, and principles enshrined in the Statement on the Cooperative Identity and included in the ILO Recommendation 193/2002 on the Promotion of Cooperatives.


Social and Solidarity Economy at the ICA

Cooperatives are a key constituent of the social and solidarity economy. As a values-based and people-centred model of enterprise, cooperatives contribute to the sustainable development of the communities where they operate.

The ICA represents and promotes the cooperative specificity towards civil society, media  and in multilateral organisations including the United Nations, ILO, FAO, IFAD, the International Accounting Standards Board and the G20, among others.

At the United Nations, the ICA participates in high-level discussions of relevance to cooperatives through its consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), which it has had since 1946, the first non-governmental organisation to do so. It advocates for a policy and regulatory environment that is conducive to the establishment and development of cooperative enterprises, which help create economic opportunities for all people, including the world’s poor, youth, women, smallholder producers, and entrepreneurs.

In line with the ICA 2020-2030 Strategic Plan, ICA published a position paper to advocate for an enabling environment for SSE actors and exercise joint advocacy towards the initiative regarding the UN resolution on SSE proposed by the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on SSE (UNTFSSE). The position paper states that ICA is committed to promoting SSE at the international level and within the UN system, and establishing strong partnerships with other global SSE organisations.

The SSE needs to be recognised not only for its undeniable social contributions, particularly regarding the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, but also for its distinctive standard features which are their real source of social innovation and, transformative power in the world, particularly in the face of the unprecedented global crises we are living. ICA recognises the significant contribution of SSE towards inclusive and sustainable development to impact people and the planet positively.


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