The successful efforts by the International Co-operative Alliance to have co-operatives mentioned in the Rio+20 declaration on sustainable development is an example of how the ICA is taking a more aggressive approach to public policy issues, says ICA Director-General Charles Gould.
Speaking on the final day of the Co-operating for Change in the International Year of Co-operatives research and education conference in Montreal, Mr. Gould said the International Year of Co-operatives "is a time of really significant change for the ICA. Our board feels that this is a watershed moment in history, and we have to be more aggressive if we are to take advantage of those opportunities.”
He said the ICA's public policy platform has three specific planks: greater diversification of the global economy, recognition of co-operatives' unique legal and financial framework, and equal promotion of the co-operative model with the shareholder model.
“We want co-operatives to participate in all sectors of the economy," he said. "We want accounting and tax treatment to be refined so that the contributions from members and distributions to members are recognized for what they are and not analogized to shareholder investment.”
Wednesday was a particularly busy day for Mr. Gould; he spent the morning at the research and education conference, appeared on a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio program in the afternoon, then headed to Montreal City Hall for a reception marking the closing of the research conference and the beginning of a congress organized by Canada's two national co-operative associations. In his speech at the reception, he described Canada as "at the forefront of global co-operative leadership", a message that was well-received by the more than 200 Canadian co-operators at the event.
He also joined leaders of the Canadian and Quebec co-operative movements in the signing of a declaration on co-operatives that had been adopted by the Quebec legislature in honour of the International Year.