Manchester in line for World Co-op Congress

The International Co-operative Alliance is considering staging a World Co-operative Congress in Manchester next year as part of the ground-breaking UN International Year of Co-operatives.

ICA Director General Charles Gould told the conference the feasibility of convening a world Congress to coincide with the ICA Expo event scheduled for October 30th to November 2nd, 2012, is currently being reviewed.

Said Mr Gould: “The last WCC was in Manchester in 1995 when the Rochdale Principles were revised. The concept for the 2012 WCC is that it would provide the opportunity towards which we could direct those individuals who find us during the UN Year of Co-ops — it would be a way to engage them.”

While a World Congress in Manchester would be a big fillip for the North West region and the UK Movement, Mr Gould made it clear the ICA would hope to create a ‘virtual WCC’ to complement the physical presence in the city through the Expo event.

“We would be adding a ‘marketplace of ideas’ component to the marketplace of the Expo trade fair and would stream sessions and provide for online participation in a way designed to engage in particular with the younger people we are seeking,” explained Mr Gould. “We would invite G10 countries to send representatives who could translate appropriate portions for their local audience.”

Mr Gould said the countdown to the International Year of Co-operatives is already well under way, but added: “It will take hard work to exploit the year and get from it what it can potentially offer. 

“The prize for co-operatives is greater public awareness that translates into increased membership and improved member engagement in the short term and, in the long term, improved positioning for a number of priorities including the development of new co-ops; national legislation favourable to co-operative growth; and business school education on co-operatives. The ICA board feel the one outcome we should target globally is increasing public awareness of co-operatives as a values-based business model — we want to relaunch the global co-operative brand.”

Mr Gould told delegates that a logo to promote the 2012 event will be unveiled by the United Nations on March 17th and the UN launch itself will take place on October 31st in conjunction with a plenary session of the General Assembly in New York.

Mr Gould’s remarks were warmly welcomed by several delegates at Stratford and ICA President Pauline Green said the Director General’s vision and commitment showed the organisation was now moving forward in new and exciting ways.

Delegate Geoff Freeman suggested the Movement should try to tie in the Year of Co-operatives with the London Olympics, while Les Lawrie said it would be helpful to produce a short film on world leaders — such as US President Barack Obama — who are members of co-ops.

• For further details on the UN International Year of Co-operatives visit:

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