I had the opportunity to discuss the Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade with ICA members in Costa Rica yesterday. Each time I engage in discussions like this I am impressed with the thoughtfulness of co-operators and with their commitment to the ideals of the co-operative movement.
Costa Rica is especially well-connected to the broader movement, as ICA’s regional office for the Americas has been situated there since the region was first established in the 1990s. With a stable political and economic environment and a central location, Costa Rica serves as the home for a number of regional institutions, such as the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
By law, the Costa Rican state promotes the creation of co-operatives and formed INFOCOOP (the Instituto Nacional de Fomento Cooperativo) for this purpose. In addition to promoting all sectors of co-operative activity, INFOCOOP provides technical assistance and financial support and conducts statistical research. Its data show that 21% of the Costa Rican population (around 900,000 individuals) are members of the country’s 600 co-operatives. Significantly, co-operatives control over one-third of the national coffee production and about 16% of its sugarcane production, both significant components of the economy.
All of this leads to an informed and engaged co-operative public. Their questions on the Blueprint centered around youth, not only their engagement, but their education. More than one speaker stressed the importance of exposing young people to co-operative history and guarding against taking the inculcation of co-operative ideals for granted.
Another theme was to emphasize the success of co-operatives, even as we strive to increase our role in the global economy. We are building from a base of success, not failure. Certainly the World Co-operative Monitor and the hundreds of co-operative stories on stories.coop make this point.
The Blueprint is now available on the ICA web site (www.ica.coop) in English and French, and the Spanish translation will be posted imminently. I hope you’ll take some time to review it in detail.
The ICA Board will be reviewing a four-year implementation plan when it meets in Moscow on 25 March. This is the next, critical stage, as we move from conceptual agreement around the five strategic Blueprint areas, which demand breakthrough strategies, and now agree the few, vital, focused strategies to move toward the 2020 vision.
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