Over 3,000 co-operative members, directors and executives from 93 countries have joined a four-day conference to discuss the business of co-operatives.
Held in Quebec City, near to Desjardins’ Levis headquarters, the first Summit took place in 2012 during the United Nations International Year of Co-operatives.
This year’s agenda is focused on the innovation of co-operatives and mutuals, and will look at development, financing, employment, food security and health/social care.
In welcoming delegates to the event, Monique Leroux, chair, president and CEO of Desjardins, said: “In 2012, we shed light on the immense support co-ops and mutuals are providing to the economy. In 2014 we will show we can count on our capacity for innovation and to respond to the needs and challenges of today.
“There is no doubt the world has an urgent need for co-operation, and that we as co-operative leaders need to set the tone. It is also our job to do more, in response to the broad global challenges by contributing to ensuring greater food security, access to healthcare and developing enterprises to long-term. The Summit provides potential to show our capacity.”
Added Ms Leroux: “We are the ones who are responsible for the growth of our co-operative business. It is up to us to seize opportunities together for the benefit of our members and clients. This is what makes the Summit so stimulating.”
Co-host of the event Dame Pauline Green, president of the ICA, said: “In the two years since the last International Summit of Cooperatives, much has happened. Much has happened since that meeting in the International Year of Co-operatives, when the United Nations gave us that rich gift that we were determined to use.”
She said the year made the movement determined to “kick start the regrowth” of the sector.
“In the words of Pope Francis ‘we need to put the human-being back in the global economy’,” said Dame Pauline. “That’s what we’re about. That’s our agenda. People are at the heart of those economic decisions.”
By 2020, the ICA is aiming for the co-operative model to be the fastest growing form of business and one of the most sustainable, according to Dame Pauline.
- For more updates from the 2014 International Summit of Cooperatives, click here