By Michael W. Kahn, ECT Staff Writer
Electric cooperatives are joining with their co-op brethren worldwide to mark 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives.
The designation was made by the United Nations, and it was at U.N. headquarters in New York where dignitaries from across the globe officially launched the celebrations Oct. 31.
“The International Year of Cooperatives is an opportunity to raise public awareness about cooperatives, to promote their formation, and to encourage governments to establish policies conducive to their growth,” said U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro. “Just as important, it is a chance to underscore the importance of cooperative values.”
NRECA CEO Glenn English noted that co-ops have a rich history in the U.S., going back to one of the nation’s Founding Fathers.
“In the United States, the first known co-op dates back to an insurance cooperative formed by Benjamin Franklin,” said English, who was inducted into the National Cooperative Business Association Hall of Fame in 2010.
“Co-ops continue today to provide a tremendous service to people throughout the world,” English said. “Cooperatives are a model of self-reliance and an example of people working together to improve their quality of life.”
Martin Lowery, NRECA executive vice president, external affairs, recently completed his term as NCBA board chairman. He hopes the International Year of Cooperatives will see more co-ops created.
“As Pauline Green, president of the International Cooperative Association, stressed in her remarks to the General Assembly, we want 2012 to be so successful in promoting cooperatives that the next decade will see dramatic growth in cooperative businesses worldwide,” Lowery said.
2012 not only is the International Year of Cooperatives, but is also the 50th anniversary of NRECA International Programs.
“Over the past five decades, NRECA International has established itself as the leading institution in provision of rural electrification programs and project design and knowledge transfer to rural electric program agencies and rural communities worldwide,” said Dan Waddle, senior vice president, NRECA International Programs.
Waddle thanked the many co-op directors, managers and employees who have come together to “support tens of thousands of communities and to substantially contribute to rural economic development in many of the poorest and most remote communities on earth.” It is a tradition he promised will continue.
“While we are proud of the legacy of our program, we are also cognizant that there is much work that remains.”
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