Governmental authorities in historic meeting to discuss promotion of co-ops

National and local government authorities from 23 countries met with officials from the UN and the EU after the World Congress

After the World Co-operative Congress came a historic first: national and local government authorities from 23 countries met with officials from the UN and the EU in Seoul, Republic of Korea, on 4 December to discuss strategies for the promotion of co-operatives.

Organised by the ICA, the meeting heard from representatives from the Republic of Korea, Spain, Basque Country, EU, Iran, France, Mexico, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Senegal, Israel, Mongolia, Egypt and Morocco.

Participants examined how governments can develop policies that leverage the co-operative enterprise model to drive a more inclusive and resilient recovery from the pandemic, and improve legislative and regulatory frameworks to create a supportive environment.

Welcoming officials, ICA president Ariel Guarco said: “The ICA, with 126 years of history, is the common home of all the co-operatives in the world and is at your disposal to contribute with each of the governments and with the entire international cooperation ecosystem. I am confident that we can increasingly strengthen our dialogue and consolidate the construction of regulatory frameworks that respect and strengthen our
co-operative identity.” 

Officials were also welcomed by Mun Seok-jin, president of SSEGOV (Association of Korean Local Governments for Social Economy and Solidarity) and mayor of Seodaemun-gu district of Seoul. “Our association tries to make the social economy more real in the local communities,” he said.

The second session, which looked at the UN secretary general’s report on Cooperatives in Social Development, began with an address by Wenyan Yang, chief, Social Perspective on Development Branch, UN-DESA. She said the UN recognised the critical role of co-operatives in social and economic development for the benefit of all people.

The session saw participants explore the meaning of some of the recommendations made by the UN SG in his report. 

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Hagen Henrÿ, chair of the ICA’s Cooperative Law Committee, looked at the challenges of translating co-operative principles into law while Nazik Beishenaly, a researcher at the University of Leuven, introduced her recent study on how to build an ecosystem for co-operatives. 

Marie J Bouchard, president of the Scientific Commission on Social and Cooperative Economy, CIRIEC International, explored the challenges and opportunities brought by the harmonisation of statistics on co-operatives. And Andrew Allimadi, coordinator of co-operative issues, UN-DESA, explained how his organisation supports co-operatives.

The third session looked at the growing interest of governments and intergovernmental bodies in the SSE. Speakers looked at the prominent role of co-operatives within the SSE, ahead of the 110th Session of the International Labour Conference (ILC) in 2022, which will hold a general discussion on the SSE  for a human-centred future of work.

The session started with a video message from Vic Van Vuuren, director of the Enterprise Department of the International Labour Organisation, highlighting the important relationship between the ILO and the ICA. “I have no doubt that the ILO will continue the century-old engagement with cooperatives in the years to come,” he said.

The meeting ended with a session on collaboration and coordination in inter-governmental policy processes and a potential roadmap towards biennial intergovernmental meetings on co-operatives. 

Closing the meeting, ICA director general Bruno Roelants said the development of co-operatives is directly linked to that of SSE. He said the meeting could become a recurring event if there was interest in a multilateral dialogue with national and local governments and UN organisations.

The full list of officials who spoke: 

  • Ariel Guarco, president of the ICA
  • Mun Seok-jin, president of SSEGOV (Association of Korean Local Governments for Social Economy and Solidarity) and Mayor of Seodaemun-gu district of Seoul
  • Hagen Henrÿ, chair of the ICA’s Cooperative Law Committee
  • Nazik Beishenaly, a researcher at the University of Leuven
  • Marie J Bouchard, president of the Scientific Commission on Social and Cooperative Economy, CIRIEC International
  • Andrew Allimadi, coordinator of Cooperative Issues, UN-DESA
  • Chung Hyun-gon, president of Korea Social Enterprise Promotion Agency (KoSEA)
  • Yolanda Díaz Pérez, Spanish deputy prime minister and minister of labour and social economy
  • Idoia Mendia, second vice president (Vicelehendakari) and minister of labor and employment, Basque Government
  • Christophe Besse, minister counsellor, head of trade and economy section, delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Korea
  • Rodolfo Solano Quirós, minister of foreign affairs and worship, Costa Rica
  • Soham El Wardini, mayor of Dakar, Senegal
  • Juan Manuel Martínez, director general of the National Institute of Social Economy, Mexico
  • Sofia Margarita Hernández Naranjo, superintendent SEPS, Ecuador
  • Gholamhossein Hosseininia, deputy minister, Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor, and Social Welfare, Iran
  • Stéphane Pfeiffer, vice mayor in charge of employment, SSE, and innovative economies, City of Bordeaux
  • Maravillas Espín, director general of autonomous work, social economy and corporate social responsibility, Spain
  • Yair Golan, deputy minister, Ministry of Economy and Industry, Israel
  • Yadamsuren Erdenesaikhan, chair of SMEs Agency, Mongolia
  • Hossam El Din Mostafa Rizk, chair, General Authority for Construction and Housing Cooperatives, Ministry of Housing, Utilities and Urban Communities in Egypt
  • Eva Cantele, general delegate, SSE Forum International
  • Beatrice Alain, director general of Chantier de l’ESS, Quebec
  • Moon Bo-kyung, head of Gyeonggi Social Economy Support Centre, Republic of Korea
  • Laurence Kwark, secretary general GSEF
  • Maud Caruhuel, vice president, Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region, France
  • Kim Young-cheol, director, Communication and Governance Bureau, Gyeonggi-do, Republic of Korea
  • Aminata Diop Samb, director Municipal Development and Solidarity Fund, the City of Dakar
  • María Ubarretxena, mayor of Mondragon Arraste
  • Victor Van Vuuren, director of the Enterprise Department of the International Labour Organisation
  • Bruno Roelants, ICA director general 
  • Wenyan Yang, chief, Social Perspective on Development Branch, UN-DESA

This article has been amended to reflect the updated number of participating countries. An earlier version mentioned 12 countries. The meeting gathered national and local government officials from 23 countries.

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