The first woman to lead the International Co-operative Alliance, Dame Pauline Green will be stepping down after the Global Conference and General Assembly in Antalya, Turkey. In one of her recent international visits to Argentina, she highlighted the role of the movement going forward, ahead of her final General Assembly as president of the Alliance.
She thinks the Alliance’s objective going forward is to shift the direction of the global economy, to one that could get more emphasis on the role of the human being in the economy.
In an interview for Cooperar’s website, the country’s national co-operative federation, Dame Pauline explained how in some countries co-operatives represented 60% of the real economy and called for a public awareness campaign to highlight the co-operative difference. She said: “We are about some business that has some values, has some ethics and is looking to try and create a different sort of economy. An economy in which people’s voice can be heard, in which they can engage and participate and have an impact. That, I think, is where the world is moving now, young people in particular want that sort of thing. And we can do it; we can support that whole move towards a new economy.”
Asked whether international bodies and governments were aware of the role played by co-operatives in the global system, she said some of the texts drafted out by the United Nations were already mentioning the important contribution of co-operatives.
As the UN is setting out its development agenda for post-2015, co-operatives have the opportunity to show how they can help achieve sustainability. She said: “We’ve had a real success, because you’ll know that the United Nations is busy developing the Sustainable Development Goals, which are designed to take people out of poverty, to end hunger and to save the environment, all these critical issues that confront us now to create decent jobs for the future. And in the text on financing that development there’s very clear references to the co-operative movement, and perhaps the one that is most important is that the United Nations recognise the plurality of the global economy from micro businesses to co-operatives to multinationals. That message of diversifying the global economy was one of the big requests that the movement had when I was able to launch the International Year in the General Assembly of the United Nations. Within three years we had the first real acknowledgment that this message has reached home and we have got some recognition of the power of the model of business that we call co-operation.”
National co-operative organisations can also help bring the message across to all members in each community, said Dame Pauline. “I think this gives everybody an enormous strength, knowing that there are people in Europe, in the U.S., in Japan, in India, in China, all talking about the same things, all using the same cooperative marque, all using a coop domain name on the internet; so we are all working together for this better world,” she said. The outgoing president of the Alliance added that the movement had intensified efforts to work together following the International Year of Co-operatives. “The role now is for us to try to ensure really strong public awareness of what the cooperative movement can do, and what is already doing,” she told Cooperar, adding that the Alliance would continue to work with its members to help them become ambassadors of co-operatives.
“What I’d like to see all the co-operative members doing is getting out and talking to people about the co-operative movement, being proud of the fact they’re in a cooperative, being proud to say to others why don’t you join us; look what this co-operative business can do for you; look what is doing around the other parts of the world; look how successful it is, and if we work together to support our community, to support our children, to give them a future, we can make the world a much better place. So we need them to be our ambassadors out there; we’ll work hard to support them with the right messages; we’ll work hard to support them to get into the texts of global treaties about the value of co-operatives, and we’ll try to make sure that they know what we’re going,” she said in the interview for Cooperar.