Our view: What is the future of the International Co-operative Alliance?

With a new leadership and the Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade nearing its end, there are calls for a bold new strategy for the 2020s

The International Co-operative Alliance is at a crossroads to its future.

Its president Monique Leroux ended her term early and has been replaced by Argentina’s Ariel Guarco, and the board is currently deciding who the successor will be to director-general Charles Gould who is set to retire next year.

It is also quickly approaching the end of its Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade, which called for co-operatives to be the fastest growing business model by 2020.

Whether that target has been or will be reached has not been realised yet. But an influential figure in co-op circles has called on the Alliance to be bold and affirm a post-2020 strategy.

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Ahead of the election of the Alliance’s new board and president last month in Kuala Lumpur, Jean-Louis Bancel, president of Co-operatives Europe and president/executive vice-chair of Crédit Coopératif, said it is “necessary to launch a new phase” of the organisation and to launch a review of the mission/objective of the board.

Ben Reid, chief executive of Midcounties Co-op and an Alliance board director, agreed. In a series of questions to board members from Mr Bancel, Mr Reid said: “At the moment we spend the majority of our time inwardly focused which feels like a lost opportunity, given the quality that sits around the board table.”

He added: “The timing for a review feels right. We will have a new president, new board and indeed a new director-general. There could not be a more opportune moment to review how we operate and establish policies and procedures that will underpin our drive forward to create a more inclusive and effective ICA.”

So what is this new direction for the Alliance? Mr Bancel believes the movement should focus on “the better world” that co-ops declare they want to build. In particular, he believes the aims of UN’s Sustainable Development Goals should be adopted in the new stage of the international co-operative movement.

What are your thoughts?