Co-operative and mutual sector leaders are on the front line of global economic challenges, according to Monique Leroux.
The CEO, president and chair of Desjardins, co-host of the Summit, said the event was important because it is “taking place in a challenging global environment, plagued with uncertainties”.
She told delegates: “The effects of 2008 financial crisis are still being felt. Growth is anaemic, and there is even talk of deflation risk. In others growth is present, but its pace has slowed down immensely. The normal formula to stimulate a recovery does not seem to be working anymore, and public finances remain under pressure in other countries.”
Mrs Leroux also highlighted that the “fragile global economic recovery” has advanced income equality and a job crisis that is affecting the young, where 25% of youth are not in employment across the world.
Between now and 2030, more than two billion people will “move into the middle class and adopt middle class consumption habits”, according to Mrs Leroux.
“The response needs to emerge at the global level,” she said. “Co-operatives are guided by long term considerations, we work for people in the real economy. Our world has a great need for co-operation and our vision, as well as a sustainable initiative. Our world needs to green its economy and to target growth that is more respectful of the environment.”
With one billion members and providing employment for over 250 million people, Ms Leroux said co-operatives already “represent a large force”. “We are a growing, sustainable source, a force for change a change that the world needs,” she said.
“This Summit will enable us to see innovation as an opportunity to go ahead and to help each other out. We will always think of innovation for our members and the communities we serve; think of the life of communities in which we were founded. Being close to the people is our greatest strength.”
Ms Leroux concluded that co-operatives have a “huge potential to increase influence” by acting on a global scale – and that co-operatives and mutuals should link local networks into a global force. “By doing this we will be an active participant at the G20 forums, by acting in solidarity we will be leveraging the strength of a great movement.”
- For more updates from the 2014 International Summit of Cooperatives, click here