The International Summit of Cooperatives has officially opened in Quebec City, Canada, bringing together almost 3,000 delegates from across the world.
A biennial event, the three-day conference will explore the existing global socioeconomic and geopolitical trends and challenges as well as the ability of co-operatives to act.
Delegates at the event attended the opening cocktail featuring welcome addresses from Monique Leroux, president of the International Co-operative Alliance and Guy Cormier, president and chief executive of Desjardins Group.
Ms Leroux said: “We are reunited here by a conviction that co-ops and mutuals can change the world. Together, we represent one of the most prolific economies and social forces in the world. We are here, in Quebec City, because we want to be stronger and we have a purpose to build a better world. This third summit is organised around the power to act, it’s a call to action, it’s a call to work together.”
Mr Cormier added: “This summit is a rare opportunity for us to meet in person and have an excellent discussion. It’s also an opportunity to increase our power to act in each of our co-ops and mutuals and collectively to promote and development the co-op model across the world. It’s a call for all of us to find ways to innovate, to be better, to increase the economic spin-offs that our co-ops create.”
Also speaking at the opening event were Dominique Anglade, minister of Economy, Science and Innovation, the government of Quebec; and Jean-Claude Seys, vice president of Covéa.
Dominique Anglade said: “By integrating social and democratic values into their models they benefit members and communities. These local roots are valuable assets in the context of globalisation. I think there is no economic development without social development. The co-op movement can be found at the intersection of the two”.
The minister talked about the important role of co-ops in the province’s economy. There are 3,300 co-ops in Quebec, accounting for 100,000 jobs across all regions and sectors of the economy. “The events happening in Haiti this week remind us of the importance of solidarity,” said the minister, whose parents died in the earthquake of Haiti in 2010.
Over the next three days participants will hear from globally acclaimed speakers including Nobel Prize laureate Joseph Stiglitz; former minister of Labor, Professor Robert Reich; and co-founder and managing director of Foundation Strategy Group Mark Kramer.
- For more of our coverage of the International Summit of Co-operatives, visit thenews.coop/summit.