Global forum to celebrate the year of co-ops

The first World Co-operative Forum is to be hosted in Manchester next year as the culmination of 2012’s International Year of Co-operatives.

Sponsored by the Co-operative Group, the event will see the coming together of the International Co-operative Alliance’s biennial ExpoCoop trade fair; a meeting of consumer co-operatives; a virtual online event for co-operators; and Co-operative Congress.

To be held at Manchester Central, the ExpoCoop, previously held in India and Portugal, will showcase products and services from co-operatives in an effort to increase their import and export opportunities. A large exhibition space in the venue’s Central Hall will highlight co-operative businesses from around the world, while throughout the event delegates can also take part in a number of workshops and seminars.

As part of the conference, the Co-operative Group will also be the host of an annual dinner for consumer co-ops from around the world. The networking event allows representatives to discuss potential trading relationships and to learn from each other.

Co-operative Congress is also mooted to take place in Manchester Central’s Exchange Hall during the event. Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, told the News: “The decision to explore a unique change to the traditional summer timing for the 2012 Congress, the star event in the co-operative calendar, is intended to make the most of events in Manchester as a fitting close to the international year of co-operatives.”

The ICA is also set to host an online event for co-operators around the world who cannot attend the event. Co-operators will be able to chat and discuss issues online. 

Charles Gould, Director General of the ICA added: “The Forum will be the culmination of a year long of global activity. The ICA is delighted to be working with the Co-operative Group and Co-operatives UK who have committed their significant resources to the success of the closing week events. 

“The official International Year website will be relaunched in the autumn, and provides a virtual platform whereby co-operators globally will be able to join in the celebrations. ICA members represent one billion co-operators across the globe in 93 countries, it would be great to see one million of them participating in the Forum!

"2012 is however not just the culmination of a series of events, it’s the beginning of what will be an onoing marketing campaign, branding campaign and messaging campaign." 

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