The International Summit of Cooperatives has finalised its sessions with a declaration to help strengthen the co-operative business model.
Bringing together almost 2,800 participants from 91 countries to Quebec City, the Summit discussed a number issues facing the movement.
A raft of speakers over the three day event agreed that the co-operative model is one of the solutions to current economic, social and environmental problems.
The declaration, which will be presented at Co-operatives United later this month to feed into the International Co-operative Alliance’s Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade, opens up by saying that co-operatives and mutuals play a significant role in the global economy while ensuring a sustainable development.
To ensure co-ops reach their full potential in a fragile economy, co-operatives must maintain their competitiveness, enhance their performance, be innovative and remain relevant to emerging needs.
To promote the diversity, effectiveness and versatility of the business model, co-operatives must remain close to their members and identify their needs. Co-ops need to become more focused on their guiding mission and values and clearly communicate their co-op difference; and also join forces with other co-operatives through partnerships and collaborative agreements.
In adapting to change, both co-operative governance and capitalisation pose challenges. Therefore, co-ops must improve the management process and member consultation, master new means of communication, develop new financing tools and entertain constructive dialogue with national and international authorities, according to the declaration.
Efforts must also be made for co-operatives to gain greater political clout. The co-operative model has demonstrated its ability to succeed, a recognition that allows it to intervene more forcefully than ever on the international scene. This new reality requires greater visibility of co-operative achievements and their original responses to the challenges of capitalism.
Monique Leroux, Chair, President and CEO of Summit organiser Desjardins, told delegates that they must collectively “leap forward and take actions” following the Summit. She added: “I extend an invitation that you commit to undertake actions that are simple, but they add more weight if we all move together, to share what we have learned here. Share with leaders, employees and staff, it’s important and simple. Encourage people around us to speak about innovation, to speak about new services, to speak about development and to speak about new services.”
Chuck Gould, Director-General of the ICA, told the audience about his experience of the Summit: “We’ve reconfirmed this general sense that has been forming as the ICA has been listening to our members in 100 countries this year. There has been a pattern and consistency. This Summit amplified those messages. The key message being that co-ops are a serious sustainable solution.”