The Imagine 2012 International Conference on Co-operative Economics got underway at the Quebec City Convention Centre before a captive audience of participants from around the globe who are involved in the cooperative movement.
At the opening of this major event— the first of its kind— spokespersons from the three organizations co-hosting the event in turn addressed the participants. First, Dr. J. Colin Dodds, President and Vice Chancellor of Saint Mary's University, noted that “St. Mary's is one of the few institutions in the world that offers cooperative management courses.”
Monique F. Leroux, Chair of the Board, President and CEO of Desjardins Group, expanded on Dr. Dodds's remarks and launched the discussion on the role of cooperatives in the global economy by asking: “What can we do to change perceptions? Why is cooperation more likely to be studied in university sociology courses than business management courses?” She closed by saying that “our challenge is not to dictate or assume we have all the answers, but to lead by example.”
Lastly, Dame Pauline Green, the first woman elected President of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA), added that “many people disregard the fact that cooperatives are part of the global economy. Our organization would like individuals who own cooperatives to be recognized and to become key players in this economy. By diversifying the global economy we are ensuring a sustainable global economy!”
Stefano Zamagni (our picture), Vice-Director of the Bologna Centre in Italy, the last speaker on the first evening of the three-day conference, put forward possible solutions in his address entitled: “Why did cooperatives disappear from economic thought?” He believes that “globalization has allowed the cooperative movement to gain ground, but key global economic players are, in fact, preventing the movement from flourishing. To allow the cooperative movement to assume its rightful place in the economy, we first need to change not only the economic infrastructure, but also the legislative and institutional framework, and avoid having a dialogue of the deaf. To do this, the global economy must become a more pluralistic economy where all players have an equally important role to play. Those who are only interested in the present do not have the success of cooperatives at heart.”
Everything is in place for a successful Conference that will generate discussion to help build a better world.