Co-operatives are being urged to back a global plan to ensure the growth of the worldwide movement is accelerated over the next decade.
A final version of the Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade has been published by the International Co-operative Alliance, which believes co-ops will become the fastest growing form of enterprise by 2020.
The ‘2020 vision’ also encourages co-operatives to set strategies that enable co-operatives to be a leader in economic, social and environmental sustainability and a model preferred by the people.
The newly revised strategy document — following on from the initial version launched at the ICA General Assembly in Manchester last year — was compiled by Cliff Mills and Will Davies from the Centre for Mutual and Employee-owned Business at the University of Oxford, with oversight by an ICA working group.
Charles Gould, Director-General of the International Co-operative Alliance, discusses the Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade.
The Blueprint suggests a number of themes and actions co-operatives should adopt, including elevating participation within membership and governance to a new level. This can be achieved, the report says, by uniting co-operators and sharing best practice.
Building sustainability is another area the Movement needs to strengthen by collecting and publicising relevant data, including case studies, public advocacy and promoting distinctive management practices.
By building the co-operative message and identity, co-operators can “secure moral economic authority and better business status” for the sector according to the report.
While the Blueprint also encourages national bodies to engage and lobby policymakers to ensure legal frameworks for co-operatives create a level playing field compared with other business.
And, the final area of the Blueprint examines how co-operatives can secure reliable capital, while still guaranteeing member control. The document argues that people are the most reliable sources of capital, but instruments are needed to provide the facility for moment to be pain in and out of the business.
Charles Gould, Director-General of the ICA, said: “This is an historic moment of opportunity for the co-operative sector. With political institutions in many nations struggling to keep up with a rapidly changing world, it is essential that citizens become increasingly resourceful, enterprising and co-operative in order to face the inevitable social and environmental challenges we face as a world community.
“By 2020, poverty will have increased, the plight of young people will have deteriorated, and global warming will be having more frequent impacts on everyday life. By 2020, we need to be able to look back on 2012 as representing a turning point for the co-operative idea, and the contribution it is making to people’s security, well-being and happiness.”
Added Mr Gould: “The purpose of this document is to set out a proposed Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade, and provide a clear direction for the coming years. The challenge now is for the ICA, national bodies, sector groups, co-operative societies and individual members to take this Blueprint forward into implementation.”