A letter from the President of the Global Youth Network 

An intense year of meetings and collective work has ended, which has allowed us to share experiences and reflect on the current situation, both in the regions and at the global level, and on the strategies that co-operatives carry out to deal with a context of great uncertainty, marked by the continuity of neo-liberal policies and major changes in many countries, which in both cases continue to deepen inequalities. Data on the global employment situation is alarming; this year there were more than 200 million people unemployed, where the most vulnerable are the youngest. It is estimated that unemployment reaches 30% of the youth and particularly young women. Additionally we have to consider the terrible situation of the displaced people, who are victims of violence.

During the International Summit of Cooperatives in Quebec, Robert Reich described a world where the income of the majority declines or stagnates and the accumulation of wealth of the upper class increases. Remember that 99% of planetary wealth is concentrated in 1% of the population. Reich also stated that “Capitalism is affected by a crisis that cooperatives can help to solve.” One question we can ask ourselves about the model that does not provide answers: how can we articulate an effective and collective response?

Cooperatives are not responsible for the crisis – however, they suffer the consequences and act in a coherent and supportive way to protect workers and producers. It is their role to transform the conditions that reproduce the domination of capital over people. We are convinced that self-management and democratic participation are the key to building another economy. Youth are thinking about how to strengthen these tools.

One of the central themes of this year was the UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. Taking into account that the Millennium Development Goals were not met, it is necessary to reflect on the origin of this problem. We know that cooperatives contribute directly to the achievement of many of these goals, generating decent work and economic growth, promoting quality education, gender equality and reducing inequalities, among many others. However, it is a long time before we can count on the necessary conditions for a full and dignified life.

At the various summits and conferences that took place this year, the cooperative movement reaffirmed its commitment to sustainable development and a better global employment situation, encouraging and facilitating the creation of decent work, favoring education and empowerment, especially among the young. In relation to youth it was held in the Summit Declaration that “Cooperatives are committed to give importance to the active participation of young people and women in decision-making processes.”

The youth of the cooperative movement continue to maintain the need to improve democratic participation and the scope of the cooperative model as the engine of cultural, political and economic transformations that guarantee a plural and united world. That is why we intend to promote these debates and participate in the platforms that the cooperative movement, its regions and sectors generate.

We wish you a very good year – that 2017 will find us more united so that we can continue to deepen the task of building from our daily work with others and with joy create a collective and transformative movement.

Gabriela Buffa, 
President of the Global Youth Network

(c) Alliance Youth Network Newsletter December 2016