I’ve written here before on the ICA’s goal for the International Year of Co-operatives (IYC): to raise public awareness of the co-operative as a serious, values-based enterprise model. This is directly connected to ICA’s vision that the co-operative will be the fastest-growing form of enterprise by the end of this decade. We now have a Planning Work Group focused on drafting a post-IYC plan—a Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade.
The Planning Work Group met with the ICA Board recently at a Board meeting in Venice, Italy and identified key obstacles to that vision. What would have to be overcome for that vision to be achieved? Why hasn’t it been achieved already?
The conversation was candid, recognising the challenges, yet upbeat, encouraged by today’s environment, which is so conducive to co-operative growth. Obstacles identified include: limited public and professional awareness of the co-operative; access to capital; full engagement and mobilisation of members; internal focus; and legal and regulatory framework.
The Board and Planning Work Group then brainstormed strategies that would address these obstacles, in the areas of: growth and capital; values and image; digital strategies; leadership engagement; member commitment; professional community; and public policy.
This will be a consultative process, with ICA’s members, regions, and sectoral organisations. The Planning Work Group will be using its work with the Board to frame questions to gather input. The timeline calls for the presentation of a Plan to ICA’s members at the upcoming General Assembly on 31 October 2012 in Manchester, England, in conjunction with Co-operatives United: World Co-operative Festival and Expo, which will close the International Year of Co-operatives for the movement.
We are not waiting, of course, for the Plan in order to act, but instead are using the opening that the IYC presents to share and refine our messages. There is an important public policy component to those messages. Policymakers are a key constituency for the co-operative movement.
Three key messages are now being shared with policymakers. These messages were first announced in the ICA President’s—Dame Pauline Green’s—speech at the United Nations opening of the IYC in New York City last October. First, we need a greater diversification of the global economy. Second, we need full recognition in public policy and regulation of the specific and unique legal and financial framework of co-operatives. And third, we need equal promotion of the co-operative model with the shareholder model. I will say more on each of these in an upcoming blog, but share them here as they are so important in helping to overcome the obstacles to a Co-operative Decade.
Our new Plan, our Blueprint, is intended to be focused on a few strategic priorities that, if achieved, would have significant impact in multiple areas. Public policy is clearly one such area.