THE International Co-operative Alliance has reached a turning point in its history, claims the organisation's President Ivano Barberini.
Over 750 delegates from 80 countries attending the ICA General Assembly in Oslo last week heard an upbeat assesment of co-operation's potential to tackle international problems.
In his opening speech, Mr Barberini said co-operatives are essential to a balanced world economy where too many businesses are driven by the profit motive alone.
"Co-operatives are so important now and are becoming more widely recognised," he said.
Despite recent economic growth, Mr Barberini said that world problems are still not being tackled with the energy needed to solve them.
Poverty, AIDS and war, he said, are still a fact of life to millions around the globe. In particular he highlighted the importance of co-operation to Africa, where, he said, water could be the cause of future wars if nations did not co-operate to tackle access to this basic resource.
Norwegian Prime Minister, Kjell Magne Bondevik complimented the Co-operative Movement on its contribution to the development of the welfare state in his country.
Mr Bondevik said the values and principles of theMovement internationally are indispensable to nations as well as individuals. These values must be used in the fight against poverty, environmental degradation and international terror.
According to Pauline Green, Chief Executive of Co-operatives UK ? who is also European President of the ICA ? the organisation has a big part to play in the development of concrete solutions to some of the world's most pressing problems.
She said that, until recently, the ICA had suffered under a financial strain that restricted its work and therefore its influence, but predicted that the Oslo Assembly will be a turning point, with its new Director General, Iain MacDonald, and board leading a renaissance in activity which would help members across the globe improve their competitiveness and ability to deliver meaningful member benefit.
"We need to strengthen the ICA and to demonstrate how it brings co-operators together at this time of globalisation," said Dame Pauline.
"We need to ensure that co-ops have the same influence on the world stage as do our competitors."
This can best be achieved she suggested by a strong ICA, working in co-operation with local national and international partners, such as the United Nations and the International Labour Organisation, so that the co-operative message is heard at all levels.