Dear cooperative friends around the world,

Today we celebrate the 125th anniversary for the International Cooperative Alliance. For me, this is not just a milestone for our organisation, but also for the entire cooperative movement. 

This year, all humanity is facing tremendous challenges. From the confines of our homes, we have seen so much bad news about the pandemic, racial violence and the effects of climate change. However, we have put the cooperative principles into action, and we witnessed how cooperatives around the world have helped families cope with a deadly virus, and we will help communities rebuild, when the pandemic is over. I am proud to see the organization that was born 125 years ago, continues to be home for all organizations that practice an economy rooted in democracy and solidarity, and with that spirit that is capable of meeting today’s global challenges.

Our cooperative identity, values and principles have remained strong and are the foundation for cooperatives worldwide to help their communities survive and cope with the pandemic this year. During the past month, I have listened to cooperators from all parts of the word, tell their stories of resilience and commitment to respond to the needs of the people. I have learned of quick and innovative actions by cooperatives that have protected and helped the vulnerable members of the less fortunate population.

As a member of the cooperative movement, I know that during times of crises, cooperatives take action without hesitation. That is why this year, the cooperative activity is essential for millions of people around the world. This year, we have also witnessed worldwide, the rise of the next generation of young leaders, who are committed to erase social inequality, fight against climate change, and connecting this with the unbalanced impact of the pandemic. I firmly believe that the cooperative model can be the channel through which our youth can democratically organise and be the agent of social transformation. Using our cooperative identity as a banner, we can steadily work towards the sustainable development of the communities we serve. 

To cooperators everywhere, I would like to thank you for your contributions to the global challenges we face today and for your innovative thinking to improve our lives in the future. Together, we will continue to build a strong and transformative cooperative movement for the next hundred years and beyond.

I send you a strong cooperative hug from a distance!