Young co-operators around the world contributed to the draft International Cooperative Youth Statement, which will be finalised over the two-day United Nations’ closing ceremony for the International Year of Co-operatives that starts today.Steven Lynch, Australia’s Youth Ambassador for co-operatives, shares his thoughts about the statement.
Recently I represented bankmecu with 250 other co-operatives as part of the 2012 National Cooperative Conference held in Port Macquarie on the 24th and 25th of October.
As a youth delegate at this conference I was looking forward to meeting with and learning from other co-operators from across Australia. Even though I had worked for Australia’s first customer owned bank, bankmecu, for over 10 years my knowledge of the co-operative sector in Australia going in to the conference was limited. I left feeling inspired to be part of a sector who understands that there is more to business than just economic prosperity. A sector which recognised the importance of people before profit.
The highlight of the conference was participating in the youth summit. This summit brought together 30 youth delegates from a variety of backgrounds as diverse as co-operative housing, community-owned renewable energy, mutual banking, artisanal crafts, food retail, community organisations and environmental activism. Like the co-operative sector itself the strength of this summit lay in the diversity of skills, passions and knowledge each youth co-operator brought to the summit.
The aim of the youth summit was to produce a report which would identify areas of focus for the next 12 months and beyond. Working together the following areas and actions were identified:
• Education: Increase the understanding and acceptance of the role co-operatives play in Australian society through telling the positive experiences produces by co-operatives.
• Co-operative youth programs: To increase youth engagement and establish a youth ambassadors program, a mentorship program and develop a range of youth focussed events.
• Responsibility to share resources and skills: Establish a network of young co-operators and a youth representative position on the “Social Business Council of Australia”.
Following the youth summit delegates provided an update to an industry breakfast on the 26th of October. It was clear from this breakfast that older generations of co-operators are encouraged by the passion, knowledge and skills youth delegates have for co-operatives.
The youth summit gave us the opportunity to think about the future of co-operatives and the role young people can play within the co-operative sector. We put these thoughts down as the Australian contribution to the International Cooperative Youth Declaration. Australian youth co-operators applaud this initiative and we will be following the outcomes with interest. We are proud to be part of a global movement and extend solidarity with other youth co-operative movements around the world.
In the weeks that have followed since the conference conversations are continuing with youth delegates as we look to co-operate to create a better future together. As the Australian Youth Ambassador for co-operatives I am excited about the possibilities over the next 12 months and beyond.
• Find out more about the International Cooperative Youth Statement and watch the live webstreams: www.thenews.coop/iycclose
In this article
- Brand management
- British co-operative movement
- Business models
- Consumer cooperative
- Contact Details
- Housing cooperative
- Person Location
- Port Macquarie
- Social Issues
- Steven Lynch
- The Co-operative brand
- The Co-operative Group
- UNIYC Close