Co-op News’ review of 2019 included question and answer sessions with a number of leading lights of the global co-op movement – and here’s our round up for the website.
We spoke to James Wright, policy officer at Co-operatives UK, who discussed his organisation’s lobbying efforts and the changed political landscape across the UK.
Q&A: James Wright, Co-operatives UK
Brian Branch, from the World Council of Credit Unions, discussed the challenges of digitisation and catering for migrant populations, as well as his organisation’s conference for 2020.
Q&A: Brian Branch, Woccu
In terms of co-op law, Cliff Mills, from Anthony Collins Solicitors, said that climate change and the need for international collaboration would all be crucial issues.
Stephen Gill, from VME, highlighted tech challenges including renewed competition from market disruptors like Amazon.
After the Co-operative College celebrated its centenary year, principal Cilla Ross looked ahead to plans for a Co-operative University and continued international collaboration.
Deb Oxley, from the Employee Ownership Association, celebrated the continued growth of the EO sector and promised more lobbying efforts with policymakers and on issues such as succession planning.
For Emma Bridge at Community Energy England, key challenges facing her sector remain funding issues and the need to secure strategic local partnerships.
Shaun Tarbuck, from ICMIF, said the co-op and mutual insurance sector needs to keep up with the pace of technological change and also embed sustainability into its business strategy as the climate crisis deepens.
Esteban Kelly, from the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives, hailed a ‘powerful year’ for worker co-ops and said his organisation would continue to lobby on issues such as funding, freelancer co-ops and the business conversions, as a generation of baby-boom company owners nears retirement.
The agri sector suffered mixed fortunes in 2019, said Tim Bailey of the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society – but he added this includes many positives and his organisation will continue to help members future-proof their businesses.
Dr Chiyoge Sifa, regional director of the International Co-operative Alliance for Africa, said coming priorities include increased youth participation and improving the economic freedom of women across the continent.
Climate change and the circular economy are crucial issues for Todor Ivanov, secretary general of Euro Coop, with retailers tackling problems over plastic and food waste. His organisation is preparing a new report on the contribution of consumer co-ops to a stronger Europe.
In Australia, Melina Morrison from apex body the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals hailed key legal reforms for the sector and said the organisation would continue to push for a better operating environment.
And in the USA, Doug O’Brien from NCBA-CLUSA said co-ops are on the agenda because people are feeling dislocated from their businesses and communities – and he called on the movement to do more to address inequality, create in inclusive economy, and address global challenges.
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