GLOBAL – This year’s annual World Cooperative Congress where cooperators meet to discuss issues about the cooperative movement is due in December. Preparations are in high gear, according to the organizers.
The 33rd edition of congress will take place in Seoul, the Republic of Korea between December 1st and 3rd 2021 and it will be a hybrid event.
About 150 motivational speakers among whom are; activist Ela Bhatt, the United Nation (UN) special reporter Oliver De Schutter, and filmmaker John Huston among others from 24 countries will engage the delegates in discussing the cooperative identity so as to build a more secure future.
The World Cooperative Congress hosted by the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) are scheduled around the cooperative movement’s historical landmarks.
Originally, this year’s Congress was planned to take place last year but it was postponed due to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic.
The 33rd World Cooperative Congress will mark the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA’s) 125th anniversary and the 25th anniversary of the statement on the cooperative identity which was adopted in 1995.
The Statement on the cooperative identity includes the definition of the cooperative value and the seven cooperative principles.
Ariel Guarco, the President of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) told cooperators that this year’s hybrid event will be an opportunity for the cooperators to gather in person and online to discuss, network and plan action around the theme of “Deepening Our Cooperative Identity”.
Guarco said this will be tackled across the four areas related to the cooperative identity which include; examining its values, strengthening its actions, committing to its principles and living its achievements.
According to the confirmed programs of the events during the World Cooperative Congress; on Wednesday 1st December, the delegates will explore the sub-theme of examining the Cooperative Identity through an open plenary session, a round table discussion and five parallel sessions looking at how Cooperators can build and maintain a strong cooperative brand, inclusive of governance, educational opportunities, cultural heritage and partnerships with governments.
The Canadian award-winning filmmaker John Huston will take delegates through a roundtable session on how the ability to leverage the Cooperative Identity can be viewed as a unique opportunity in times of crisis.
Idoia Mendia, the Basque government’s deputy president and regional minister for labor and employment and Inigo Aibizuri Landazabal, global head of public affairs for the Mondragon Corporation will lead the plenary and a roundtable discussion on strengthening the cooperative identity.
He will use this plenary and a roundtable discussion to share the views from Basque Autonomous Region, which is home to the World’s largest group of workers-owned cooperative Mondragon.
After this, there will be five parallel sessions seeking ways to strengthen the cooperative identity by taking advantage of the digital age, supporting ethical value chain management, building a strong entrepreneurial network, meeting future capital needs and encouraging innovative entrepreneurship.
On Thursday, 2nd December, 2021, the plenary and a roundtable discussion will be centered on the third sub-theme of committing to the cooperative identity.
Ela Bhatt, the founder of the Self-Employed Women Association of India (SEWA) will be the one setting the stage for these discussions.
She will deliver a keynote address on the changing work of Cooperatives and how they can respond to these changes, a topic she explored in her book entitled “Women, Work and Peace.”
After this, the attendees will then engage in discussions on how to commit deeply to the cooperative identity for the survival of the planet, peace and equality, cooperative development across the world, strengthening communities and facing crises with strength.
On 3rd December, 2021 which is the final day of the Congress, the delegates will basically focus on living the cooperative identity where the UN special reporter for extreme poverty and human rights, Oliver De Schutter, will join an open plenary and a roundtable discussion on how the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are being turned into effective local actions by cooperators around the globe.
The International Cooperative Alliance leaders will thereafter present their ideas for the meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), giving delegates an opportunity to get the feedback and contribute their views to the discussion.
The World Cooperative Congress will then split into five parallel sessions to reflect on the ways in which the cooperative movement is living its cooperative identity through rewarding jobs, accessible health and social services, enhanced food security, affordable housing and energy as well as within the social and solidarity economy.
Ariel Guarco, the President of the International Cooperative Alliance will then give his closing remarks of the Congress and look ahead to the next steps that will follow.
According to Guarco, they have one billion members who are part of the three million cooperatives on the continent which gives them an unprecedented chance to make cooperators influence felt.
Guarco further says, World Cooperative Congress offers (ICA) the opportunity to do that by bringing together thinkers, doers, activists and storytellers who will lead the conversation on four sub-themes.
Meanwhile, the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) Director General, Bruno Roleants will look at this year’s World Cooperatives Congress as a place of action to learn from.
He assured the delegates that their voice will continue to be heard and as always their opinions will matter for planning of next year’s Congress.
“After the closure of this historic event, through continued debates and conversations within the cooperative movement, views will be gathered which will ultimately culminate in the next General Assembly expected to take place in June 2022 where the outcome of the debate will come to fruition,” Bruno Roleants asserts.
According to him, one of the key aims of the World Cooperatives Congress will also be to showcase and find ways to harness the power of cooperation in responding to the multiple crises of this century including; climate change, unsustainable development, conflicts, violence, migration, inequality and the future work.
“Cooperation is a proven way to build a fair, more balanced and a fundamentally less fragile economy in the face of global challenges and I look forward to engaging with delegates in many discussions in Seoul and showing the world that cooperatives can lead us to a stronger future,” Bruno Roleants asserts.
Roleants says, though Covid-19 will inevitably serve as a dark backdrop to the event, it will also offer an opportunity to accelerate the many achievements cooperatives have made in the face of the crisis and to look ahead to their role in the rebuilding process.
Covid-19 pandemic has claimed many lives and also accentuated the existing inequalities in the world.
Today, more than ever, the world needs an economic model with community leadership at its heart, focused on the common good, a reason people should embrace the cooperative way of doing business together so as to make the needed shift.
To emerge better from this pandemic, cooperators passionately believe that the world must learn to cooperate better with each other.
The 33rd World Cooperative Congress delegates are being assured that the necessary precautions are being made to ensure a safe experience.
Registration for the world cooperative congress is now open. The registration deadline for delegates attending online is 22 November, while for those attending in person in Seoul, the deadline for registration is 11 November. You can find more information to access sessions online here and more about the World Cooperative Congress.
Delegates can find up to date information on Covid-19 travel requirements here. Those who are unable to attend in person this year will be able to access the program of events online, due to the hybrid nature of the event.
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