Dame Pauline Green, President of the ICA, gave an impassioned speech at the Opening Ceremony of Co-operatives United in Manchester, telling delegates to act as the voice of the one billion members of co-operators from across the world.
As the International Year of Co-operatives comes to a close, Dame Pauline said that there had been a tremendous momentum that has built up over the year, and “we must not allow that momentum to be lost.”
She said: “This UN IYC has been a fabulous year, as I visited the movement across the world, I can’t help being struck by the impact. The impact of the logo and slogan, Co-operatives build a better world. It adds to out values, it adds publicly who we are. Never before in its history has the Co-operative Movement globally come together around a single logo and slogan, we have never been as cohesive as we are now.”
She has met many co-operators from all over the world and said: “I have felt a huge increase in confidence as they begin to sense the strength of a billion people around them.”
However she warned, this year, also came at a time of economic struggle and recession for many countries across the world, yet despite coming out stronger than traditional banks, no co-operatives are on the World Bank board or the B20, the business arm of the G20.
“That simply will not do, we represent 1 billion people and I am told that when I make this case, it’s idealistic. I have to share that 1 billion people can’t be wrong, they are not starry-eyed idealists, they are realists;” she explained.
During her speech she asked: “Are we going to just shake hands and say what a great year? Are we going to retain are momentum? The ICA is determined to capture this moment, I am delighted to launch the ICA Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade!”
The Blueprint will be discussed at the Extraordinary General Assembly today.
She also said she was proud to launch the World Co-operative Monitor, the new ranking system for the world’s largest co-operatives, and explained that the top 300 co-ops have a combined value of just under $2 trillion.
In the Special General Assembly in Rome 2008, they voted to find more funding streams than just the members of the ICA. This year to do this they have had 3 expos, with this being the biggest and “best”.
They have also acquired the Domains.coop from Midcounties Co-operative.
Dame Pauline also added her thanks to Co-operatives UK, and the Co-operative Group.