MADISON, Wis. (12/23/09)--World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), together with the global credit union movement, applauded the United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly's vote Friday proclaiming 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives. The proclamation recognizes the important role cooperatives of all types, including credit unions, play in strengthening and supporting global economic social development. Recognition by the U.N. also strengthens the global cooperative movement itself, according to Pete Crear, WOCCU president/CEO. "WOCCU has always been proud to be at the forefront of global credit union development, but the International Year of Cooperatives raises the stakes on the important role cooperatives play," said Crear. He was a member of the U.N. committee that drafted the recommendation. "By recognizing the value cooperatives have in social development, the U.N. is honoring the work we've already done. However, the declaration also poses a challenge to make cooperatives even more influential and effective in the work we will do in the future," Crear said. WOCCU staff participated in the development of the original recommendation that led to the declaration. Staff also contributed to the U.N. Secretary General's report, "Cooperatives in Social Development," which served as the foundation for the recommendation. In advance of Friday's vote, WOCCU worked with its members to lobby U.N. representatives to ensure passage of the resolution. The recommendation leading to the General Assembly vote cites cooperatives' abilities to "promote the fullest possible participation in the economic and social development of all people." It also recommends the promotion and growth of financial cooperatives to meet the goal of inclusive finance by providing access to financial services. The U.N. declaration encourages all member countries and stakeholder organizations to support cooperatives by raising public awareness of cooperatives' roles in "sustainable development, eradication of poverty and (support of) livelihoods of various economic sectors in urban and rural areas." The declaration further encourages governments to create legal and social environments conducive to promoting cooperative development "by providing a level playing field for cooperatives vis-à-vis other business and social enterprises, including appropriate tax incentives and access to financial services and markets." "Credit unions and other cooperatives will play an even greater role in social and economic development both at home and around the world in the years to come," Crear added. "Our role is to not only spread the good word, but help strengthen cooperatives' capabilities to reach and serve people who need that service most." In the next few months, WOCCU will coordinate with the U.N. and the International Cooperative Alliance on planning and facilitating the International Year of Cooperatives.