“Never before in its history has the Co-operative Movement globally come together around a single logo and slogan, we have never been as cohesive as we are now.” With these words, referring to the slogan Co-operatives build a better world, Pauline Green, President of the International Co-operative Alliance, ICA, opened the main event of International Year of Co-operatives. Under the name of Co-operative United, Manchester played host between 29 October and 2 November to almost 12,000 people from 88 different countries, who visited the third co-operative fair, ExpoCoop, took part in ICA Extraordinary General Assembly or attended some of the more than 200 meetings and events staged.
According to ICA President, there are more than 1 billion co-operators worldwide, but, despite the way in which co-operatives have proved they are better able to withstand the economic crisis than other business models, they are still not represented at the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund or the B20. “One billion people can’t be wrong,” added Dame Pauline.
Delegates taking part at the assembly passed a motion intended to take advantage of the momentum provided by the international year, and to build a co-operative decade on its foundations. This vision is reflected in the document Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade, presented in Manchester after months of debate within the ICA planning group. The objectives set for the year 2020 are ambitious. Over the coming years the co-operative business model must consolidate its position as the most sustainable from the economic, social and environmental perspectives, and must be the model preferred by society, registering the greatest growth.
Another key decision taken at the Manchester assembly was the transfer of the ICA to Brussels, and its transformation into an international not-for-profit association.
The co-operative week also featured the launch of the book Building a Better World: 100 Stories of Cooperation, which presents experiences from different parts of the world and snapshot accounts highlighting co-operative values.
The Manchester event provided a representative forum for more than 750 co-operatives worldwide, who were able to share experiences, exchange knowledge and trace out a route map to ensure that the coming years truly represent the decade of co-operatives.