World Cooperative Congress comes to a close

'We should be very proud of what we have advanced here ... these are historic times'

Postponed due to a case of Covid-19, the final session of the World Cooperative Congress was streamed on 29 December. The pre-recorded session highlighted some of the key topics explored during the Congress without attempting to draw any conclusions.

According to Martin Lowery, chair of the Congress task force and of the ICA identity committee, and member of the ICA global board from the US, this is because the event marked just the beginning of a dialogue on the co-operative identity. He said the best “was yet to come”, adding that the discussion was a journey that would continue over the coming months.

“It’s really important for us to think about the fact that this is an ongoing opportunity. In fact, as one of you said, it’s a journey, and that journey will continue,” said Mr Lowery. He reminded delegates that archived material from the Congress will be available on the online platform in the coming months“ and will lead to continuing dialogue both around the statement on our identity as well as the discussion of specific opportunities that we need to be looking at, both within sectors and cross sectoral.”

ICA director general Bruno Roelants also pointed out that the event has been an opportunity to analyse the co-operative identity “from an array of different angles.”

The Congress featured a total of 130 panellists, 58 facilitators and 53 rapporteurs. “We reach around 380 persons who all have contributed with their knowledge to the contents of this Congress and its preparatory events,” added Mr Roelants.

The congress online platform will be accessible to all participants until 18 February 2022. Online registration will remain open for those wishing to watch the Congress proceedings via the online platform.

The session also featured Ann Hoyt, chair of Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin, United States, who summarised what had been discussed at Congress, and Yolanda Diaz Perez, second deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labour and Social Economy of the government of Spain.

“In sum, there has been a sense of urgency throughout the Congress. To quote one of our speakers, ‘The time for talking is done. The time for action is now.’ And to quote a wise teacher, ‘I wish we could learn to love ourselves less and our children’s future more’,” said Ann Hoyt.

“I invite you to do all these little things that allow us to dream big,” said Yolanda Diaz Perez.

During the online session Oh Byung-kwon, acting governor of Gyeonggi province, Republic of Korea, said the Gyeonggi Province would create the right conditions for co-operatives and the social economy to grow while Cho Wan-seok, chair of Korea Cooperative Solidarity, praised the event for bringing people from all over the world together to discuss their shared co-operative identity.

ICA president Ariel Guarco said: “We should be very proud of what we have advanced here. As we said, these are historic times.”

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