How has the last year been for the ICA-AP?
In the Asia-Pacific region, 2023 has been marked by recognition of the work of co-operatives, dynamic regional events, acknowledgement of outstanding work, and renewed projects and partnerships.
The G20 meeting held under the Presidency of India saw co-operatives mentioned in several policy papers relating to financial inclusion, inclusive global value chain, and development of artisan co-operatives. The National Cooperative Congresses held in India, Nepal, the Philippines and other countries were opportunities to showcase the strength of co-operatives and platforms from which to advocate. Co-op law was updated in Jordan, UAE, and Vietnam.
The ICA Asia-Pacific region now has 109 members across 28 countries. The 16th Regional Assembly in Manila emphasised the shared commitment to building a better world through collaboration and co-operation. The fourth edition of the Asia-Pacific Cooperative Youth Summit (APCYS) in Sabah, Malaysia, served as a space to explore inspiring sustainable practices and to celebrate the diverse spirit of youth co-operativism.
The first ICA-AP Cooperative Excellence Award celebrated the Uralungal Labour Contract Cooperative Society, a 99-year-old worker co-op, a diversified primary co-op with emphasis on infrastructure development. The Inspirational Leader Award was conferred upon Datuk Seri Dr Abdul Fattah Abdullah, president of Angkasa, acknowledging his 25-year advocacy for co-op development and youth progress in Malaysia.
Co-ops celebrated global events such as International Women’s Day, International Youth Day, and the International Day of Cooperatives, highlighting the role of co-operatives as partners for sustainable development and emphasising the importance of inclusion and equality. The 25th anniversary of the ICA Asia and Pacific Committee on Women was marked with an event in Tokyo, Japan, reflecting on its substantial impact in promoting gender inclusion and equality.
This year has been a testament to the enduring strength of the co-operative movement in the Asia-Pacific region. The collaborative spirit, innovative approaches, and commitment to sustainable development have not only defined our past year but have set a promising course for the future.
What are your hopes for 2024?
The experiences of the past year have underscored the enduring relevance of co-operatives, a sentiment echoed by the UN in its recognition of the pivotal role that co-operatives play in sustainable development. In the Asia Pacific region, we remain optimistic about the growth and contribution of co-operatives.
The Regional Assembly held in November was a testament to the enthusiasm and vigour that define co-ops. It showcased the collective spirit of collaboration, community concern, and a commitment to shared values. Our regional committees, spanning consumer, women, youth, trade, education, and research, have embarked on numerous initiatives, reflecting a proactive approach to contemporary issues and fostering inclusive development.
We eagerly anticipate regional and global events that will further amplify the co-op movement’s impact. The 2024 Minister’s Conference in Jordan and the ICA General Assembly in India stand out as crucial platforms for dialogue and collaboration. The initiation of a new EU project is a promising avenue to undertake innovative work and extend our outreach to new countries. The Asia Pacific region, known for its dynamism, is poised to lead the co-operative movement forward, embodying the co-operative principles of unity, collaboration, and sustainable progress.