International Year of Co-ops

IYC-LOGO-EN2012 was the UN International Year of Co-operatives.

With the theme ‘Co-operative Enterprises Build a Better World’, the year encouraged the growth and establishment of co-operatives all over the world. United Nations’ Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, praised the role that co-operatives play as catalysts of inclusive development and their capacity to empower communities by creating jobs and generating incomes: “Co-operatives are a reminder to the international community that it is possible to pursue both economic viability and social responsibility.”

SAOS published an informative booklet, Farmer Co-ops in Scotland, to commemorate the IYC. The booklet features around 30 of our members, and helped to raise awareness of the breadth of our members’ businesses and their improtance to the rural economy in every area of Scotland.


Also during the year, SAOS was a signatory of the Dunsany Declaration, released to coincide with World Food Day, which detailed nine actions for the co-op sector and academia, as well as global, national and regional NGOs and Governments to enable successful, independent rural co-operatives to develop and grow.


At the end of the year, a beautiful and striking book: Building a Better World: 100 Stories of Co-operation, was published. This features SAOS and Scotland’s farmer co-ops. The book was distributed to Governments and NGOs and is on sale in UN book shops.



To build on the success of the year, the General Assembly of the International Co-operative Alliance adopted a ‘Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade’. The aim is for a decade of growth in which the co-op business form becomes “the acknowledged leader in economic, social and environmental sustainability”.  Agricultural co-ops are a major component in creating more sustainable, and more resilient farming systems that are better able to cope with the factors shaping global food supplies. SAOS has no hesitation in supporting the ICA Blueprint and we will contribute towards its aims.

The SAOS team is engaged with our members in each of the five specific action programmes promoted by the ICA:

  • Elevate participation within membership and governance to a new level
  • Position co-ops as builders of sustainability
  • Build the co-op message and secure the co-operative identity
  • Ensure supportive legal frameworks for co-operative growth
  • Secure reliable co-operative capital while guaranteeing member control.