Development of co-operatives is paramount over the coming years, according to a draft declaration from the International Summit of Cooperatives.
The document, which will be further developed by the 3,000 delegates from 93 countries over the coming weeks, declared: “We need more, stronger, and innovative co-operatives that commit to ensuring food security, continue their role as creators of wealth and jobs, and step up their efforts to improve access to health care and services.”
In line with the Summit’s main focus of innovation, the document covers five major changes co-operatives can make for the global economy. During the event, delegates heard that there were 2.6 million co-operatives and mutuals, which represented one billion members and US$3,000 billion in annual turnover. There are also 250 million people employed, which accounts for 12% of total jobs in the G20.
During the closing ceremony, Dame Pauline Green, president of the International Co-operative Alliance and Summit co-host, said: “This declaration has to be directed to key leaders. We want to direct it to the world leaders, all the UN agencies, and all the relevant people who can make us move ahead. This is about influence, I cannot emphasise so much about how important this is. Some fantastic reports have come out of this event that evidence our case. We’ve got a range of solid evidence to take to the decision makers.”
Co-host Monique Leroux, chair, president and CEO of Desjardins, said: “I believe that we bring forward a number of concrete solutions, including food security … health care and services.”
Ms Leroux also added that job creation is an area where the movement hasn’t concluded its work, plus there is more opportunity for “interconnections” across sectors, for example between Desjardins’s financial services and the financial needs of agri-food co-operatives.
The declaration calls on participants to act on the following findings:
- ‘We need more influential co-operatives’: Co-operatives and mutuals will ensure the movement consolidates its position in the B20; give the sector a voice in the Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN in 2015; and leverage the UN’s Action Plan for Women, which highlights the place women occupy in co-operative business ownership and leadership.
- ‘We need more and stronger innovative co-operatives to better meet the needs of people and societies’: Co-operatives must achieve the objectives of the ICA’s Blueprint; support the implementation of national legislations that eliminate obstacles to the creation and development of co-operatives; contribute to the training and reinforcement of co-operative boards of directors and officers; and support initiatives to compile all economic and social data from co-operatives in order to raise public awareness of their impact in all economic sectors.
- ‘We need co-operatives to contribute to food security’: Co-operatives and mutuals undertake to actively support international efforts to achieve food security, reduce poverty, and eradicate hunger worldwide. It also calls on co-ops to help end discrimination in certain countries against women with regard to their right to own land; and pursue efforts to improve the access of rural populations to affordable energy for food processing and preservation.
- ‘Co-operatives must continue their role as creators of employment’: This calls on the movement to continue promoting the co-operative model as a creator of jobs and collective wealth; promote and support programs for the active engagement of women and young people in co-operative start-ups; and promote the inclusion of the co-operative and mutual business model in programs at educational institutions.
- ‘Co-operatives must step up their efforts to improve access to health care and services’: The sector must promote their presence as a complement to government services, particularly in the provision of hospital care–related services; develop solutions to help communities manage health care and services themselves; and present and promote insurance products that are based on mutualising risk and aligned with people’s ability to pay.
- The draft declaration is set to be refined over the coming weeks. Click here to read the current version
- For more updates from the 2014 International Summit of Cooperatives, click here