From 14 to 17 October in Kigali, Rwanda, more than 1,000 people from 94 countries participated in the 2019 edition of the International Cooperative Alliance’s (ICA) Global Conference ‘Cooperatives for Development’. The event was organised in partnership with the Government of the Republic of Rwanda, a country where 43% of the population are members of cooperatives.
“We are very pleased to be in this wonderful country where we have shared, discussed and shown the contribution of cooperatives to the sustainable development of our communities. This conference is also the prelude to the celebration of our 125th Anniversary next year”, said the president of the ICA in a press conference with the Hon. Soraya Hakuziyaremeye, Minister of Trade & Industry of the Republic of Rwanda, thanking his works and welcome.
Conclusions with Minister
As people-centred businesses and key development actors, cooperatives are contributing to a better and more sustainable future for all by supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Sustainable Development Agenda was the focus of “Cooperatives for Development” debates and the SDGs constituted angles of intervention for our speakers and participants.
Within the spectrum of development and the SDGs, the issues addressed included women’s empowerment, the preservation of the environment, the eradication of hunger and poverty, decent work, ethical value chains, affordable housing, equality and peace, and innovation in entrepreneurship.
The Kigali Resolution on Development was also approved reaffirming the commitment of the Global Cooperative movement to the International Statement on the Cooperative Identity. It also emphasised the need for cooperatives to be recognised as an indispensable actor for the aspirational multi-stakeholder partnerships required to achieve sustainable development beyond 2030.
Alongside cooperators from more than 94 countries, the conference brought together civil society actors, development agencies, policymakers, institutional partners, government officials, representatives from international and regional organisations, researchers, and a wide range of actors concerned with issues in development.
The activist and one of the leaders and board members of the International Forum on Globalization, Dr. Vandana Shiva and the Principal Adviser for European Social Policy at the European Political Strategy Centre (EPSC), the in-house think tank of the European Commission, Patrick Develtere, were two of the speakers.
Participants could also discover the latest findings of the ICA – EU partnership (coops4dev) – seeking to strengthen the cooperative movement and its capacity to foster international development through policy, knowledge building and sharing, networking, and visibility actions.
2019 Rochdale Pioneers
The Global Conference was also the occasion to celebrate the 2019 Rochdale Pioneers Award, awarded to Howard Brodsky of CCA Global Partners in the USA and Byeong-won Kim, of the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation (NACF) of the Republic of Korea. The award is the highest honour the ICA bestows. It aims to recognise, in the spirit of the Rochdale Pioneers, an individual or an organisation that has made an outstanding contribution to the global cooperative movement.
2019 ICA General Assembly
With the Blueprint for a Cooperative Decade coming to an end in 2020, the global cooperative movement approved the guidelines for a new strategic document to lead cooperatives into the next decade during the 2019 ICA General Assembly held on 17 October. Members of the Assembly offered specific suggestions to enhance the document as it is being finalised.
The guidelines focus attention on ICA’s Purpose and Mission in the face of the challenges facing the world, while looking at how to strengthen the Cooperative Identity in this new decade. It also acknowledges the 2020 vision as set out in the Blueprint for a Cooperative Decade and proposes to extend it to 2030. The strategy focuses on four key themes: promotion of cooperative identity, growth of the cooperative movement, cooperation among cooperatives and contribution to sustainable development, all of which expand on the five pillars of the Blueprint for a Cooperative Decade.
The ICA General Assembly also adopted a declaration in which it reiterates its commitment to “peace, wellbeing and prosperity for all”.
The resolution explains the concept of positive peace, which, according to peace scholar Johan Galtung, is related to the good contributions in the community, particularly cooperation and integration, reconciliation and equality. Positive peace needs to be differentiated from negative peace, which relates to the absence of violence. Submitted by the ICA board, the resolution calls on the movement to uphold and deepen its commitment to positive peace and call on all of their members to strengthen their action to build positive peace based on the ICA’s Agenda of Cooperative Action for Positive Peace.
Representatives of the cooperative movement in Korea announced the next stop of the global movement:
11-16 December 2020
2020 Congress & International Cooperative Alliance General Assembly and 125 anniversary of the International Cooperative Alliance
At its General Assembly, the ICA adopted a resolution from its Youth Network, asking the ICA board to review the bylaws, articles and budget regarding youth.
The resolution calls for the inclusion, with voting rights, of a youth representative on the boards of the ICA regions. The Africa and Americas regions already have youth representation on their boards. It also suggests including the youth action plan in the ICA global strategy, with an allocated budget. “Young people are ready for action and looking for support and guidance to best channel their energies,” reads the resolution.