On 11 May 2017, Minister of State Maria Böhmer will officially hand over the documents of the inscription of the “idea and practice of organising shared interests in cooperatives” on UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage to Deutsche Hermann-Schulze-Delitzsch-Gesellschaft e.V. (the German Hermann-Schulze-Delitzsch Society) and Deutsche Friedrich-Wilhelm-Raiffeisen-Gesellschaft e.V. (the German Friedrich-Wilhelm-Raiffeisen Society) in Berlin.
Minister of State Böhmer commented:
For the first time ever, UNESCO has recognised an element nominated by Germany as an intangible cultural heritage. As someone who comes from Rhineland-Palatinate, I am particularly delighted, as Friedrich-Wilhelm Raiffeisen, one of the founding fathers of the cooperative idea, came from my Land.
That there are some 800 million people in over 100 countries that are organised in cooperatives only goes to show the appeal of an idea that brings people together from various countries. Böhmer explained that cooperatives are a modern, forward-looking form of organisation that involves a great deal of creativity, flexibility and ability to innovate.
With regard to the future of cooperatives, Böhmer stated:
It is particularly in the area of development cooperation that the idea of cooperatives offers successful models that are both economically and politically sustainable. I am convinced that the idea of cooperatives and the values that come with it are a particularly valuable cultural heritage and have a positive effect on our society. Far beyond this, the idea is of great practical importance worldwide because it encourages us all to take responsibility when dealing with today’s challenges.
The “idea and practice of organising shared interests in cooperatives” was inscribed in UNESCO’s “Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage” in Addis Ababa at the end of 2016. The “Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage” includes elements such as music, dance, theatre, oral traditions, customs, festivals and handicrafts. It was instituted in 2008 to raise awareness all over the world of elements of intangible cultural heritage and to help people understand how varied cultural forms of expression can be.