Co-operators from around the world will meet in Kigali, capital of the Republic of Rwanda, on 14-17 October for the ICA Global Conference – Co-operatives for Development.
Organised by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) in partnership with the Rwandan government and co-operative movement, the conference will feature several high-level speakers, including Rwandan president Paul Kagame.
The four-day event opens with an inaugural ceremony on Monday evening led by Ariel Guarco, president of the ICA, and Soraya Hakuziyaremeye, Rwanda’s minister of trade and industry.
Mr Kagame will welcome delegates to Kigali on Tuesday, 15 October, along with Mr Guarco, ICA-Africa president Japheth Magomere, and Nicola Bellomo, ambassador of the delegation of the European Union to Rwanda.
The opening session will be followed by a keynote address from environmental activist Dr Vandana Shiva, who will look at how co-ops can help to achieve a more solidarity-based and participatory society. The Delhi-based academic has written more than 20 books, specialising in agriculture and food, and has also campaigned on issues such as intellectual property rights, biodiversity, biotechnology, bioethics, and genetic engineering.
Next, delegates will have a choice of four parallel sessions exploring the role of co-operatives in achieving the UN’s 2030 agenda for sustainable development. The sessions will look at how to tackle inequalities through the co-operative movement, touching on issues such as women’s empowerment, innovation in entrepreneurship and inclusive ethical value chains.
The conference continues with a keynote speech by Mohammed Sajid, from the Ministry of Tourism, Air Transport, Handicrafts and Social Economy, who will focus on promoting the preservation of the environment in Africa and beyond.
In the evening, a series of documentaries about co-operatives in different parts of the world will be screened at the Co-op Cinema. The documentaries were created by researcher Sara Vicari and filmmaker Andrea Mancori from aroundtheworld.coop.
On Wednesday, 16 October, the morning plenary will discuss sustainable development through employment creation and decent work for all. This will be followed by another plenary on co-operatives and value chains and their impact from a developmental perspective. Later, participants can choose one of four parallel sessions exploring how co-ops from different sectors – housing, energy, healthcare and industry – play a role in development.
In the evening, delegates are invited to attend a gala dinner which will feature the Rochdale Pioneers Awards ceremony.
The final day begins with a plenary session on the contributions of co-ops to equality, peace, and sustainability with case studies and examples from around the world.
For the final session, a panel of speakers will be asked to summarise discussions held over the course of the conference, and to elaborate policy recommendations.
The day will resume with the General Assembly of the International Co-operative Alliance, which is open to ICA members. The General Assembly will begin at 14:00 local time and is expected to adjourn by 18:30 local time.
The conference will have an exhibition area where delegates can meet, network, promote their work and share best practices with other co-ops.
For those keen to explore Kigali, the organisers are running a series of tours to give them the chance to lean more about the local history and the role of the co-operative movement in the country’s economy.