The word “summit” is usually associated with the top of a mountain or a high-level diplomatic or political meeting. But some dictionaries also define it as “the highest point of attainment or aspiration, for example, the summit of one’s ambition.”
The International Summit of Cooperatives, which begins in Quebec City in just a couple of days, certainly fits the latter definition. Plans for the Summit began a few years ago when Desjardins Group thought up the idea of inviting representatives of the world’s 300 largest co-operatives for a meeting in Quebec during the 2012 International Year of Co-operatives. But what started as a “Global 300″ conference has since evolved into one of the most important and ambitious events of the Year, expected to attract some 2,500 participants from 90 countries.
While the people at Desjardins were envisioning how they would bring together the Global 300, the Master of Management, Co-operatives and Credit Unions program at Saint Mary’s University had an IYC project of their own: an international conference on co-operative economics. The conference was originally supposed to take place in Halifax, but in order to make it easier for international visitors, Saint Mary’s arranged for the Imagine 2012 conference to become an official pre-Summit event.
The result is nearly a week of activities bringing together co-operators, academics and other stakeholders from around the world. There will be dozens of speakers, the release of several major studies on the impact of co-operatives and even a special performance by the Cirque du Soleil.
Throughout both Imagine 2012 (October 6-8) and the Summit itself (October 8-11), we will be keeping you up to date on what’s happening and introduce you to some of the people, places and events through both words and pictures.
– Donna Balkan