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Panel Discussion on Youth Employment through Entrepreneurship: the Role of Cooperatives on 2 February at the United Nations

31 January 2012

What is the potential of cooperatives for youth self-employment and income generation? How does this contribute to poverty reduction? What is the added value in comparison to non-profit organizations and other forms of private sector enterprises? The answers to these questions and more will be under discussion on the 2 February interactive panel being held during the Commission for Social Development at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The side-event “Youth employment through entrepreneurship: the role of cooperatives” will be held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on 2 February 2012, from 1.15PM through 2.45PM in the North Lawn Building, Conference Room 6.

This event is the second in a series of interactive panel discussions to be hosted by the coordinating committee of the International Year of Cooperatives 2012, aimed at raising awareness among national governments on the diverse strengths of cooperative enterprise, and encouraging dialogue between national governments and the cooperative sector.

Youth employment has proven a consistent challenge to just and inclusive development across the globe. Even before the 2008 global financial and economic crisis and its resultant recession. Young people faced much higher rates of unemployment than their adult counterparts. In some countries young people are more than three times as likely as adults to be out of work. At the end of 2010 an estimated 75.1 million young persons (between 15-24 years old) were unemployed, corresponding to about 36.6% of the total number of unemployed.

The event will promote dialogue on the real and latent agency of cooperatives as part of a sustainable solution to the problems within youth employment, as well as showcase initiatives that have empowered young people to take action in establishing, managing and participating in cooperatives. It is anticipated that the side-event will provide an important input to the Commission for Social Development addressing both the priority theme and the emerging issue at their intersection.

Featured panellists for the event are Tom Pierson, Director of DevelopmentServices of the North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO) and Rosemary Schmidt, Director of the University of Massachusetts – Amherst, Centre for Student Business.
NASCO is an education and development network of affordable housing cooperatives. The Centre for Student Business, is a co-curricular institution working with undergraduates students at the University of Massachusetts, ages 18-22. Each cooperative business have been in operation between 20-35 years and as a whole self-fund a payroll of almost $250,000 with joint revenues of almost $700,000.

In presenting their experiences in these institutions, the panellists will provide examples of youth in individual enterprises as well as the role of youth organizations and individual youth representatives in the global cooperative movement. The discussion will also show how cooperatives in a university setting provide students with alternative frameworks to consider as they venture into career paths, as well as engage students by introducing values and skills that enable them to actively participate in the world.

The discussion will be moderated by Counsellor João Alberto Douardo Quintaes of the Permanent Mission of Brazil to the United Nations.
The panel discussion has been organized by the Department for Economic and Social Affairs, Division for Social Policy and Development, in collaboration with the Permanent Mission of Brazil, the North American Students of Cooperation and the University of Massachusetts- Amherst Center for Student Business.

For more information on this event, please contact Ms. Astrid Hurley (hurleya@un.org) at the Division for Social Policy and development of UN-DESA, with a copy to Ms. Bibi Sherifa Khan (khanb@un.org).
For more information on the North American Students of Cooperation, visit their website at http://www.nasco.coop/ . To learn more about the Center for Student Business at the University of Massachusetts, visit http://www.umass.edu/rso/csb/.

Can’t make it to the event?

Follow the conversation at www.twitter.com/CoopsYear, and send your questions to @CoopsYear using hash tag #CSocD. Or follow our posts at www.facebook.com/CoopsYear.

You can also view the live webcast at http://www.unmultimedia.org/tv/webcast/.

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