International Summit of Cooperatives – Day 1 Preview

The International Summit of Cooperatives is underway today, Tuesday 11 October, in Canada. Around 3,000 delegates are attending the event in Quebec City, which is organised by Desjardins Group and the International Co-operative Alliance.

The Summit’s official opening will feature introductory speeches from co-hosts Monique Leroux, president of the International Co-operative Alliance, and Guy Cormier, chief executive, chair of the board and president of Desjardins Group. Quebec City’s mayor Régis Labeaume will also address the conference, along with representatives from the government of Canada and the government of Quebec.

Joseph Stiglitz
Joseph Stiglitz

The opening will be followed by a presentation on the global economic and geopolitical situation by Nobel Prize laureate, Prof Joseph Stiglitz. A globally acclaimed economist, Prof Stiglitz will analyse what can be done to reverse the trend of growing inequality.

The summit will continue with a presentation from Mark Kramer, founder and managing director of FSG, non-profit consulting firm working to devise social impact strategies for many of the world’s largest foundations. Mr Kramer, who is also senior fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, will look at how businesses success relates to developing sustainably by taking into account social and environmental issues.

Related … Interview with Mark Kramer: Can the shared value approach bring a competitive advantage to co-ops?

Prof Stiglitz and Mr Kramer will then join other speakers for a round table on geopolitical, social and economic tendencies. Other panellists in this session include Azoumana Moutaye, minister of National Entrepreneurship, Craft and Promotion of SMEs, government of Ivory Coast; Barbara Ekwall, senior liaison officer, Liaison Office for North America, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); and Jean-Yves Duclos, minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Government of Canada.

Following the plenaries, dairy co-operative Agropur is hosting lunch session about redirecting economies, which delegates had to sign up for in advance. Participants will hear from economist Jeremy Rifkin of the Foundation on Economic Trends; René Moreau, vice president of Agropur; and Robert Coallier, chief executive of Agropur.

After lunch a second plenary session will explore the capacity of co-operatives to invest and protect the real economy. Panellists at this session include Anna Manca, national coordinator Women Commission, Confcooperative, Italy; Choe Okuno, president, Central Union of Agricultural Co-operatives – JA-Zenchu, Japan; Jack Bouin, first deputy chair, Fédération nationale du Crédit Agricole (FNCA), France; Melina Morrison, chief executive of the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals, Australia; Philippe Mangin, chair, InVivo, France; and Robert Engel, chief executive, CoBank, United States.

The day’s third plenary session will focus on women’s growing leadership in the economy and what businesses can do to redress inequalities. The session will contain contributions from Fatima Marouan, minister of Handicrafts, Social and Solidarity Economy, government of Morocco; Fatimah Arshad, board members at Malaysian National Co-operative Movement – ANGKASA; and Judy Ziewacz, president and chief executive, National Cooperative Business Association/NCBA CLUSA International, United States.

Related … Find all our Summit coverage at

The conference will continue with a presentation from Michel-Edouard Leclerc, president of Centres E. Leclerc, one of the world’s largest co-operatives by turnover. Mr Leclerc will share the retailer’s successful story. A second presentation by Howard Brodsky will examine the way forward for the co-operative business model. Mr Brodsky is co-founder, chair, and chief executive of CCA Global Partners, one of the largest co-operatives in the United States, which includes 14 affiliated co-ops.

The day will end with a closing interview facilitated by Stéphan Bureau, with Monique Leroux, Jeremy Rifkin and Michel-Edouard Leclerc. Maria Ubarretxena Cid, who is mayor of Mondragon city in Spain, will also join the discussion.

The Summit will also host a number of rendezvous throughout the evening, enabling delegates to network and exchange information.

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