Preview: Global Conference and General Assembly in Malaysia

As the International Co-operative Alliance prepares to gather in Kuala Lumpur, we look at what to expect at the event

In November the global co-op movement will meet in Malaysia for the International Co-operative Alliance Global Conference and General Assembly. The biennial event will bring together delegates from around the world to explore how co-operatives are putting people at the centre of development.

Malaysia is home to 12,000 co-operatives with over seven million members and a turnover of RM 34,950.98m (USD $8,126.29m). Their apex body, ANKGASA, was founded in 1966 to unify Malaysian co-ops and represent them at national and international level.

The event’s programme promises a diverse schedule structured around four themes: learn, experiment, network and explore.

The conference opens on Wednesday, 15 November, with a keynote speech by Dr Linda Yueh, who will provide a global outlook on economic, environmental and social challenges and the possible contributions of co-operatives in addressing them. Dr Yueh is a member of the World Economic Forum, a fellow in economics at Oxford University and adjunct professor at the London Business School.

Linda Yueh will look at how co-ops can meet the world’s challenges

There will also be debates, workshops and networking sessions covering subjects such as ‘Building partnerships for the future’, ‘What is the Alliance’s member value?’ and ‘An analysis of the contributing to citizens’ health by co-ops’.

Delegates can also attend a book signing session by Ed Mayo, secretary general of Co-operatives UK, who will present his upcoming book A Short History of Co-operation, and have the chance to meet the candidates for the Alliance’s board before the elections at the General Assembly.

On Thursday the conference will continue with a plenary on ‘Assessing the co-operative sector’, additional workshops and debates, and a closing plenary including a keynote presentation by Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, former prime minister of Norway, who will discuss the implications for building a more sustainable future as a united movement.

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An all-day visit to Malaysian co-ops is available on Wednesday and Thursday. A closing reception takes place on Thursday evening.

Friday will be dedicated to the Alliance’s General Assembly, which is also open to attendees not representing member organisations. The agenda will include the election of the Alliance Board, the approval of the 2016 accounts and appointment of the auditor and proposed amendments to articles and by-laws and motions or resolutions submitted.

More information on the Global Conference and General Assembly and the programme is available online.

Who is Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland?

Dr Brundtland, who will deliver the conference’s closing keynote plenary, is a medical doctor and Master of Public Health (MPH), and is known as the ‘Mother of Sustainability’.

Under her guidance in 1987, the World Commission on Environment and Development produced the landmark report Our Common Future, also known as the Brundtland report. The document coined the concept of sustainable development.

Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland will discuss a more sustainable future (Photo Tom Pietrasik/The Elders)

She graduated from the Harvard School of Public Health in the USA in 1965 and worked as a doctor in Norway until 1974, when she was appointed minister of the environment. She went on to lead the country as prime minister in 1981, being in government for more than 10 years.

She was a key figure in Norwegian politics until 1996 when she resigned from the Labour Party to make way for a new generation of leaders.

Dr Brundtland was chair of the World Health Organisation between 1998-2003 and UN special envoy on climate change between 2007-2010.

She is currently deputy chair of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders working together for peace and human rights.

The path to Kuala Lumpur: An inside look at the Global Conference from ANGKASA

This November, hundreds of co-operators will converge on Kuala Lumpur for Cooperatives: Putting people at the centre of development, the Alliance’s 2017 Global Conference. We took a moment to check in with Dato’ Abdul Fattah Abdullah, president of ANGKASA, the Malaysian National Co-operative Movement and conference co-host, to see how the conference planning was progressing and to give participants a sneak peek at what awaits them at the biggest co-operative event of the year…

What unique aspects of the Malaysian co-operative identity will be represented AT the conference?

ANGKASA is very pleased to announce that all preparations to welcome co-operators from around the world to the Alliance’s Global Conference are under way and on schedule. As hosts, we are all very excited as the countdown to the conference draws nearer to the day we receive our first guests.

Our hosting committees are also very busy finalising all the details together with the Alliance secretariat to ensure that co-operators coming to the conference will experience the true Malaysian hospitality that the country is known for in this region.

I am also proud that our hosting of the conference has opened opportunities to local co-op participation, from providing the airport transfers to bringing co-operators on our scheduled tour programmes which will allow delegates to visit successful co-operatives in the country.

The 50 volunteers who will be assisting during the conference will also be from the Co-operative College; the experience will provide them with a global insight to the world of co-operatives. As part of the conference, the hosts have also prepared a programme that will showcase the rich culture and traditions of Malaysia, such as the sampling of local fruits, enjoying traditional performances and picking up local crafts.

Nothing was spared from ANGKASA, from the local hibiscus-inspired Conference logo motif to the daily melting pot of various foods that everyone will be enjoying.

What are some of the most exciting and unique elements of the Global Conference that you can share with delegates?

Again, as host and the apex organisation for co-operatives in Malaysia, we feel this will be the best opportunity for us to showcase the very best of Malaysia to fellow co-operators from around the world.

In line with the co-operative spirit, ANGKASA is happy to announce that we will be providing special tour visits to interesting places for friends and family accompanying you while you attend the conference. To those visiting Malaysia for the first time, you will be in for a memorable experience during your visit.

Tell us about the opportunity that MACCOPs presents.

At ANGKASA, we are very proud of our Malaysia Carnival of Co-operative Products & Services (MACCOPS, for short). It is our way to see Malaysian co-ops play a greater role in the ASEAN economic integration by linking with other co-operatives from the region.   

The 2017 MACCOPS edition will see more participation from international co-operatives exhibiting products and services. As it will be organised in conjunction with the Global Conference and General Assembly, delegations from across this region can also join the planned business matching and business forum sessions.   

Co-operatives need to play a more active role in the economy, especially when it comes to wealth creation. Strengthening our domestic position is important and at the same time we need to look to international markets and international partner co-operatives to strengthen our revenue base.

Trade visitors to MACCOPS can expect to meet decision makers from local and international co-ops at the exhibition, engage in business matching and participate in seminars and other events that will ensure access to industry experts.  Co-operatives will have dedicated Coop-2-Coop networking sessions. So, if your country’s co-operative or your members might have something to showcase, MACCOPS is the place to be.

Why did ANGKASA want to host the Global Conference?

Many co-operatives have been comfortable operating within Malaysia but the future is bigger than that. We need to see ASEAN as our domestic market especially as the ASEAN Economic Community is becoming more important. Malaysian co-operatives need to find strategic partners globally who want to leverage the 8 million co-operative members in Malaysia and vice versa.

We feel that hosting the Global Conference together with Alliance will allow this to take place, as the global sharing of experience and expertise of co-operators from around the world can only benefit the co-operative movement.

So once again, I take this opportunity to welcome all fellow co-operators to come to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia this November for the ICA Global Conference and General Assembly while experiencing ‘Malaysia, Truly Asia’.

Terima kasih.