Q&As for 2022: Sébastien Chaillou, president, ICA Youth Network

‘I will continue to be a strong and active supporter for the youth in the co-operative movement’

How has the last year been for your sector?

The year 2021 has been complicated for youth as for all other sectors and activities of the ICA. It has been one more year without “real” meetings for most of the time – one more year during which most of our members’ main concern was in their own co-op and local activities, one more year of the pandemic… But for sure it hasn’t been a blank year for youth in the co-op movement. 

First, we organised a 100% online Global Youth Forum as a sequel of the one we had in February 2020 in Malaysia. Being able to organise such activities despite the pandemic and in addition to a Congress is an important signal for us in the ICA; it means youth-focused activities became usual and a true part of the goals of the movement. 

And 2021 has been a year during which we finally became a thematic committee of the ICA and reformed our youth constitution to be more open to new members. 2021 was also the year during which all the replication projects we started in 2020 have been successfully developed by the nine co-operatives we selected. And finally, 2021 has been a year of Congress. Before the Congress we had a youth side event with fewer international participants than we expected –but there were almost 80 and it was a great opportunity to release and test our toolkit for youth co-operatives. During the Congress itself we had many opportunities to see that the challenges and analyses the Youth Committee promoted are now shared and mainstreamed.

What are your hopes for the future?

I hope 2022 will be the time for us to do an assessment of what we have achieved with our action plan, and build a new one with the same energy, same success and more ambition. 2022 will be an electoral year for us as for the ICA. So I hope this process will be the moment for us to choose the best possible leader to embody youth in the co-operative movement. And for me personally, it will be time to “retire from youth” – but I will continue to be a strong and active supporter for the youth in the co-operative movement.