Cooperative leaders must make it clear to everyone, including the world’s major economic players, that cooperation is a viable and sustainable economic model.
This statement by Tom Webb (photo), Manager of the Master of Management – Co operatives and Credit Unions program at Saint Mary’s University in Canada, and Executive director of the Imagine 2012 conference, is one of the main take-home points from this high-profile event.
According to Mr. Webb, we have reached two conclusions over the course of these three days, during which leaders of the cooperative sphere and renowned proponents of a “new economy” spoke out and shared possible solutions with participants.
Mr. Webb’s first conclusion comes from the fact that a large number of collaborators from all over the world have formed their thoughts on the neo-classic economic model, a traditional model that claims that growth is the result of two production factors: employment and capital. As it turns out, this model is the cause of the recessions of the last decade, the Great Depression in 1929, the jobless recovery and increasing global economic turmoil. The message here seems to be that it is actually an unstable economic model that does not meet the needs of humanity.
He gave the example that 1.3 million children will die of malnutrition this year and that 5.8 million others are so hungry that they will never again function normally, for the rest of their lives. Is that a viable economic model? This is why leaders of the cooperative movement want everyone, including the world’s major economic players, to understand that a viable and sustainable economic model exists – the cooperative model! It is a model that continues to prove itself, year after year.
Mr. Webb drew a second conclusion from the pre-summit event, noting that we need to strengthen the avenues of communication between major leaders of the worldwide cooperative movement and to convince those economists that preach a truly “new economy” of the vitality and sustainability of the cooperative model. He shared that when reading books on the economy, words like “cooperation,” “caisse populaire” or “cooperative model” are nowhere to be found in the tables of contents. He believes that this says a lot about the fact that economists do not think that the cooperative model is THE solution.
He concluded by saying that we need to teach the cooperative model in our schools, because the next generation is the one that will carry the torch for this model in the years to come.