The International Year of Co-operatives should be used by the global co-operative movement to drive home the seriousness of the co-operative business model by elevating the form to equal standing with the stock holder model, says Dame Pauline Green, President of the International Co-operative Alliance.
But to enable this to happen, co-operatives around the world need a united voice on the strengths of the co-operative movement, while individually promoting four concepts, Dame Pauline told a plenary session of the United Nations in New York, following the official launch of International Year of Co-operatives (IYC) 2012.
“Firstly, member-owned co-operatives are a serious business model – with scale,” she told the session in a presentation of the key points drawn from an informal roundtable session at the UN earlier in the day.
The Secretary General of Mondragon, Maria Arantzazu Laskurain, highlighted to the earlier informal roundtable that co-operatives needed to be able to compete on the global marketplace, by having enough buying power.
“It’s not about being big or small,” she told the session. “It’s a question of adjusting the size of the cooperative to be competitive in the market.”
Not being taken seriously has sometimes resulted in not being adequately heard by politicians and public servants. “Co-operatives are asking that the specific and unique legal and financial framework of a co-operative is fully acknowledged and recognised in public policy and regulation,” said Dame Pauline. Until now, co-operatives have been not achieved the recognition they deserve.
“Co-operatives are not at all old-fashioned or outdated,” said Piet Moerland, Chairman of Rabobank, in his presentation to the roundtable discussion. “I believe the co-operative model deserves more recognition.” He reiterated his views that co-operatives needed a higher profile on the public stage at a press conference later in the day, as did Desjardins’ President Monique Leroux and Dame Pauline.
Co-operatives need to promote their values-led basis in 2012, and, to promote the co-operative model of governance as a model that, unlike mainstream political and economic model, meets their needs.
Co-operative representatives talked of the resilience of the sector in the most difficult financial period since the 1930s. But also they highlighted how the sector – with its reputation for trust – has continued to grow exponentially in a sign of those times.
The International Labour Organisation has documented the continued growth of the co-operative banking and credit union sector throughout the financial downturn of the past four years.
In China, the co-operative business model is beginning to show signs that it is an attractive model in which to conduct business.
“… as China opens wider to the outside world in its modernization drive, the cooperative movement starts to exhibit strong viability with an increasing importance in promoting rural economic development, expanding urban and rural economic exchanges and helping increase farmers’ income,” Li Chengyu, President of the All China Federation of Supply and Marketing Cooperatives, told the roundtable.
“In addition to supply and marketing cooperatives, there are now specialized cooperatives, credit cooperatives and handicraft cooperatives. They are involved in such sectors as commerce, finance, light industry, agricultural product processing and services.”
Following the launch of IYC 2012 and Dame Pauline’s presentation of the findings of the morning’s roundtable session to the plenary session, more than 150 leading co-operative executives gathered at an ICA Leadership reception in the Millenium UN Plaza Hotel organised by the ICA and sponsored by IFFCO, Desjardins and Marketing Manchester.
Dame Pauline presented the latest Global 300 report at the reception and officially launched The Global Development Co-operative.
The overriding theme from the two days of official events and talks was that the co-operative movement globally needs to dramatically lift its public profile if it's to be taken seriously outside the sector and the playing field is to be levelled with other business models.
Source: ICA News
In this article
- British co-operative movement
- Business models
- Consumers' cooperative
- International Co-operative Alliance
- Maria Arantzazu Laskurain
- Pauline Green
- Person Career
- President of the International Co-operative Alliance
- Secretary General
- Social economy
- Social Issues
- The Co-operative brand
- The Co-operative Group