What’s on the agenda for the international cooperative movement?

I’ll be blogging next week from the conference of the International Co-operative Alliance, taking place over the next few days in Cape Town.

The ICA came into being in the 1890s very much through the efforts of the British cooperative movement, and the Brits also played a big part in helping the organisation survive and regroup when it nearly went under a decade or so ago.  (Pauline Green, then head of Co-operatives UK, played a key role at that time and is now the ICA’s President).

Things have been looking up more recently, though there’s still plenty which a global cooperative organisation needs to be doing.  I’ll be looking out for the launch of the new ICA global ‘COOP’ brand, scheduled for tomorrow, and hoping to catch the session dedicated to cooperatives and sustainability on Monday.  I also await the launch of new guidance notes around three of the seven international cooperative principles and just hope I won’t be disappointed at what the ICA is proposing with regard to environmental and social business objectives, where at present the principles are very weak.

I also gather from the ICA’s Director-General Charles Gould that the ICA is establishing a Commission to explore new ways that cooperatives can find the capital they need (given that coops are generally not able to access equity capital without doing a Co-op Bank type deal).  The well-respected Kathy Bardswick, CEO of The Co-operators insurance company in Canada, is to chair this Commission, an appointment which bodes well for its work.

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