Global Conference attracts 1800 co-op leaders

Global Conference attracts 1800 co-op leaders

More than 1,800 co-operators met in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the International Co-operative Alliance’s (ICA) Global Conference and General Assembly (14- 17 November) – including Cooperative Business NZ Chief Executive Craig Presland.

Co-operative leaders from across the world examined how co-operatives are putting people at the centre of development.

They elected a new ICA President, Ariel Guarco of Argentina, and full Board.

Malaysia is home to 12,000 co-operatives with over seven million members and a turnover of RM 34,950.98m (NZD $11.9 billion). The country’s apex body, ANGKASA, which co-hosted the conference, was founded in 1966 to unify Malaysian co-ops and represent them at national and international level.

The host nation’s Minister of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumers of Malaysia, YB Datuk Seri Hamzah Bin Zainudin, welcomed the delegates.

“I am very honoured that our country has been selected as the country host for this renowned conference. Having so many leaders from over 90 countries is something we should be very proud of. We can learn from each other,” he said.

Monique Leroux, the outgoing President of the International Co-operative Alliance, addressed delegates:

“We can never say enough about how much the movement has contributed to a better world. There is a wonderful diversity in this room, with women, men, young and not so young people from different countries. We are united in diversity.

“In fact, the co-operative movement has always been destined to remain a modern movement, always at the forefront of promising social and economic innovations. This explains why the co-operative movement is benefiting not only its members but all people and why the co-operative movement is bringing positive changes in communities and societies across the world.”



Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland

New ICA President, Ariel Guarco.

The global event featured keynote speaker Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, former prime minister of Norway and known as the “Mother of Sustainability”, whose 1987 report for the World Commission on Environment and Development coined the concept of sustainable development. In Malaysia she talked about the implications for building a more sustainable future as a united movement.

Another speaker at the conference, Linda Yueh, a leading economist, fellow in economics at Oxford University, provided a global outlook on economic, social, and environmental challenges, with a focus on Asia, the hosting region, and discussed the possible contributions of co-operatives to address them.

The event’s programme was structured around four interactive themes: learn, experiment, network and explore.

Debates, workshops and networking sessions covered subjects such as the co-operative potential for the refugee crisis, what the collaborative economy is and why co-ops should care. Also, how co-operatives, in collaboration with others, could deploy significant resources to lift people out of poverty, to empower local communities and to improve the lives of billions across the globe.

Three simultaneous sessions looked at the existing legal hurdles co-ops still face, the path towards better statistics on co-operatives and building sustainable supply chains, among others.

The conference also explored cooperatives as a means to facilitate the transition of workers from the informal to the formal economy, and how multi-stakeholder co-ops are innovating in co-operative governance, among others.

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