Well, the Co-operative Summit in Quebec City, Canada lived up this week to all of its promise. 2,500 co-operators from 90+ countries converged on Quebec for Imagine 2012 and the Summit. As one woman noted, with the canopy of the changing Maple leaves all about, the city had decorated itself in the orange and red colors of the International Year of Co-operatives. Desjardins went to great lengths to showcase the artistic talent of the province throughout the week, but in particular in the culmination of the gala dinner, with a rousing performance by the renowned Cirque de Soleil commissioned especially for the Year.
All of this speaks only to the trappings of the event. The substance was at the same world-class level, with specially commissioned reports presented by top-level consulting and public opinion firms. The cream of co-operative thinkers were also in evidence, with every panel at both conferences worth the trip had it been the only one. It’s best to visit the Summit site to access the reports – www.2012intlsummit.coop – there is far too much substance to even attempt to summarise here.
All of this great work is not just for those in attendance. Beyond the web site, press events were held daily to leverage the messages and communicate to the world that co-operatives are a viable solution to the global crisis we face.
A draft Declaration captures the key findings of the week. Together with the expression of the hopes and aspirations of the individual participants for the future, which they are invited to contribute over the coming days, the Declaration will next travel to Manchester, UK for the co-operative community’s close of the International Year of Co-operatives. There it will be presented to ICA’s members.
Already there is talk that the Summit engendered too much excitement and delivered too much substance for it to just have been a one-time occurrence. Conversations are underway among the co-hosts and partners to explore the feasibility of a repetition. For now, we’re focused on the development of the Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade, to convert the energy of the Year into a plan of action for the Decade, but it’s not too soon to consider whether the Summit could provide a format to drive important dimensions of that Blueprint.