For all of us at the ICA, the Old Year actually turned on 31 October 2011, with the start of the International Year of Co-operatives. 2011 was a year of preparation … to ensure that we were ready for 2012. The opportunity for ICA’s President, Dame Pauline Green, to address a plenary session of the United Nations General Assembly in the iconic Assembly Hall in New York was an historic moment for co-operative annals. Unlike past events of great significance, which became dusty with written descriptions and still photos, we can now readily and widely share recordings of such occasions, through youtube and on our new web site www.2012.coop, so they truly become timeless.
Two weeks after the UN opening, ICA launched the International Year with the co-operative movement, in Cancun, Mexico, at the largest General Assembly and Conference in our history. The recognition among the more than 2000 attendees there that we are at an exceptionally promising time for the co-operative model was palpable and constant.
2011 was such a remarkable year in so many ways, co-operatives aside: the Arab Spring, the unrest across the Euro zone, the Occupy Everywhere movement. A recurring theme in Cancun was how this environment has created a world especially ready for the co-operative message, for a way of living that is “not business as usual”.
2012 is a year of great promise for co-operatives. We have solutions to many of the world’s challenges and we are committed to raising public awareness of our model. The opportunity we have prepared for these past two years is now here and we are ready for it.
The real opportunity, of course, is to use 2012 to help achieve a longer-term vision. ICA is committed to turning the International Year of Co-operatives into A Co-operative Decade, with the goal of the co-operative being the fastest-growing model of enterprise by 2020.
We will begin the close of the International Year on 31 October 2012, in Manchester UK, at a World Co-operative Festival, together with an extraordinary ICA General Assembly and ICA Expo. We hope to welcome 10,000 co-operators to Manchester and intend to leave with a Blueprint for the Co-operative Decade!
Wishing you all the best in this best of all possible Years.