It was 116 years ago today that leaders of the co-operative movement gathered in London for the First International Co-operative Congress and founded the International Co-operative Alliance.
Those leaders in 1895, even with their great vision, could hardly have foreseen the scale and impact that co-operatives have grown to have today: almost a billion people in over ninety countries represented among the members of ICA alone. The Global 300 report that ICA produces is a further testimony to our scale and impact.
As important as our reach, however, is our effectiveness. The recent report on the resiliency of the co-operative business model speaks to the importance of co-operatives at this particular time in history. It provides evidence that co-operatives are a solution to some of the intractable problems the world is facing today.
2012 — the United Nations International Year of Co-operatives — will afford us a platform to tell our story. We won’t wait until then to share our message, but the International Year provides opportunities that are not normally available. I hope you will join the co-operative community in reiterating the messages we will be sharing, so that collectively, we can break through all of the other messages that compete for the public’s attention.
I look forward to meeting ICA members at the General Assembly in Cancun, Mexico 14-18 November 2011. Please feel free before then to share with me your thoughts on how ICA can ensure that we are supporting you to the fullest extent in your important work.