Joanne Lechasseur, the Summit’s program director, had very successful meetings in Berlin, Germany, where the International Conference on the Cooperative Responses to Global Challenges was held from March 21 to 23. The objective of this conference was to develop an interdisciplinary platform for setting the research agenda in the field of cooperative studies beyond 2012. Germany: a country with a rich cooperative tradition Ms. Lechasseur had many interesting discussions with people at the conference, and talked at great length with Dr. Julia Vesshoff, an auditor with the office of the Board of Directors of the German Cooperative and Raiffeisen Confederation (DGRV). The DGRV is a German umbrella organization legally responsible for auditing cooperatives. According to Dr. Vesshoff, German cooperatives have over 20 million members, which makes the cooperative movement a key economic player in Germany. In addition to promoting and representing the mutual interests of its members and cooperative affiliate organizations, the DGRV audits its regional and national centres, specialized institutes and federations. At the political level, the DGRV represents all cooperative sectors in terms of economic and fiscal policy, as well as legal issues. It also offers consultancy services to cooperative groups (federations) on questions relating to business organization, data processing and the education system. In addition to being a member of various international organizations, the DGRV also promotes cooperative development in third-world countries, as well as in Central and Eastern Europe. Very successful meetings While in Berlin, Ms. Lechasseur also had a number of interesting meetings with: Eckhard Ott, Chair of the Board of the DGRV, who gave the opening address at the conference. Özgür Öner, head of the GdW Federal Union of German Housing and Real Estate Associations (federation of housing cooperatives). Kati Grossmann, from the marketing team of Volksbank Halle, one of the 1,138 cooperative member banks of the BVR – the central organization of the cooperative banking group in Germany. Adam Jenkins, member of the Nuffield Australia study group that sets up bursary programs for the Australian agricultural community to promote excellence in all aspects of agricultural production, distribution and management. Michael L. Cook, from the University of Missouri-Columbia’s Applied Social Sciences division, who specializes in governance. Mr. Cook is a 2012 Cooperative Hall of Fame inductee. Dr. Hans-H. Münkner, Cooperative Development Consultant, Germany, who is the author of many books. Towards a cooperative world bank? Ms. Lechasseur also met with Jomo Kwame Sundaram, the Assistant Secretary for Economic Development in the United Nations’ Department of Economics and Social Affairs (DESA). In his speech, he expressed the hope that a cooperative world bank would be set up one day. Ms. Lechasseur believes the Summit provides a perfect opportunity to promote the idea to the many presidents and executives of cooperative financial institutions who will be attending the Summit. Stay tuned! In the picture (from left to right): Dr. Peter Frei, CEO, Solar Valley GmbH, Josef Sanktjohanser, member of the executive board, REWE-Zentral-AG, Dr. Inga Michler, economist/journalist, Ernst Burgbacher, Parliamentary State Secretary, Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology and Hans-Theo Macke, member of the executive board, DZ-Bank. Missing: Dr. Carsten Emde, CEO Osadl eG.
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