After its General Assembly in November, the International Co-operative Alliance’s president Pauline Green is to step down following a cut in funding from her host country.
Dame Pauline, the first female president in the Alliance’s 120 years history, has been leading the organisation since 2009 and was re-elected in 2013 for a further four years.
With her term of office due to end in 2017, Dame Pauline has announced retirement two years early because the Co-operative Group could not commit to funding the global president role beyond 2015. Traditionally, all elected directors to the Alliance board are financially supported by their host country.
At the annual meeting of Co-operatives UK in Birmingham tonight, Dame Pauline said funding could have been secured from other co-operatives within the UK, but without the engagement of the Group it leaves her presidential role “weakened” on a global scale.
She told delegates: “I owe so much to UK co-operators who have supported me throughout my career, firstly as a Co-operative Member of the European Parliament, then as the chief executive of Co-operatives UK. Latterly their collective support gave me the incredible opportunity to work at international level, initially within the European region of the Alliance, and for the last six years as the global president. It has been the greatest privilege to represent them.”
A spokesman for the Co-operative Group told the News: “In 2013, the Group agreed to support Dame Pauline’s re-election as president and it was agreed and made clear then that we would continue to provide funding till the end of 2015.”
In her speech to the conference she added that she would “always be immensely proud to be a member of this great worldwide movement” and that she would remain closely linked to the sector.
As president of the Alliance, Dame Pauline presides over the General Assembly and the board, while providing policy and organisational leadership, in collaboration with the director general Charles Gould. She is also representing the Alliance on the B20 group where she sits on the employment task force.
In a letter to directors of the Alliance, informing them of her decision, Dame Pauline mentioned some of the organisation’s key achievement in recent years. She said: “In 2009 together we promised radical change. We have made good on that promise and built significant added value for our member co-operatives. We have enhanced our representational role at global level beyond recognition, and now produce annual global statistics for the movement that are used by decision-makers across the world.
“We have a global strategy: The Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade, that has received worldwide recognition, huge membership engagement, and is core to national co-operative strategies in many countries. We have successfully launched a global marque that is already being used in 98 countries. Membership has grown year on year, our visibility and profile continues to rise, and more importantly the global family of co-operatives is more united and cohesive than ever.”
Commenting on Dame Pauline’s retirement, Mr Gould, said: “We regret the early retirement of a much applauded president, but we deem ourselves fortunate to have enjoyed the privilege of Dame Pauline’s leadership. Under Dame Pauline’s presidency, both the Alliance and the co-operative movement have benefited from a significant rise in profile.
“One of the great benefits of the reforms of the last six years has been the strengthened governance of the Alliance, its greater cohesion, and its representativeness of both co-operative businesses and national apexes. The Alliance is confident that, as a result of the work of Dame Pauline, a very strong list of president candidates will establish itself. We are excited to see a new Alliance president take office and propel the movement forward, building a better and more equal world.”
The Alliance’s Election Committee will issue a call for nominations for president with timelines following its board meeting in July 2015.