Underscoring the co-op business model’s growing importance around the globe, the 2012 International Summit of Cooperatives (held in October in Quebec, Canada) drew nearly 2,800 participants from over 90 countries. In the words of Monique F. Leroux, chair of the board, president and CEO of Desjardins Group, one of the event’s three co-hosts, “The Summit was a great opportunity to exchange ideas and innovative practices…[Participants agreed] that now is the time to strengthen and develop the cooperative model in all its forms…and on the need to grow in a sustainable way and to extend our global influence by building on the ability to innovate and work in a spirit of intercooperation, while staying true to our cooperative values and beliefs.”
At the close of the Summit, Desjardins Group along with its co-hosts, the International Cooperative Alliance and Saint Mary’s University, adopted a joint Declaration on the future of the cooperative model, in which participants reaffirmed cooperatives’ contributions to the socio-economic well-being of people and communities around the globe. For 10 days after the Summit, participants were invited to suggest improvements to the Declaration, which was then presented to the International Co-operative Alliance General Assembly in Manchester, England in late October and to the United Nations on the official closing of the International Year of Cooperatives in mid-November.
This first-ever Summit was considered such a resounding success that organizers have already begun seriously considering holding a second Summit in 2014.