International Co-operative Alliance launches 2012 International Year of Co-operatives

16 Nov 2011

The largest ever gathering of the co-operative movement comes together in Mexico to launch 2012 as the United Nations International Year of Co-operatives

At a time when national economies are faced with high unemployment and financial instability, the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) is launching the UN international year focused on a unique way of doing business—co-operative enterprise.

Today‘s official launch of the 2012 International Year of Co-operatives by the International Co-operative Alliance aims to promote a self-help and development model that is also a serious business model. To commemorate the event, more than 2000 delegates from over 80 countries are gathering in Cancun for the official ICA launch and to consider how to create the conditions that ignite the growth of co-operative enterprises throughout the decade. Delegates come from all sectors of the economy, including banking, credit, insurance, housing, health, retail and agriculture.

“Since the United Nations declared 2012 as the International Year of Co-operatives, our global movement has been given a ‘once-in-a-generation’ opportunity to take a massive step forward, and lead the growth of the co-operative movement in all parts of the globe,” says ICA President Dame Pauline Green who will officially launch the International Year at the opening ceremony of the General Assembly this afternoon.

“To do this, we need to massively increase the knowledge and visibility of the size and sustainability of our business model, and of its reach into virtually every community across the world. Our General Assembly in Cancun affords us the opportunity to raise our global profile by using IYC 2012 to create common global messages and a common global presence, to influence key decision makers worldwide to support our movement that is producing solutions to the economic and sustainability problems of today’s world.”

The International Year designation provides an opportunity for co-operatives globally to come together and to raise awareness of their way of doing business. The theme for both the conference and for the International Year is ― Co-operative Enterprises Build a Better World. Co-operatives are successful values-based businesses that are owned and democratically controlled by their members—the people who use the co-op‘s services or buy its goods.

“Consumers have lost trust in the traditional banking system and are joining co-operative banks and credit unions, a type of co-operative, because they trust them.” said International Co-operative Alliance Director-General Charles Gould. “The demand for this type of banking indicates that consumers want businesses that put their needs first.”

The biennial General Assembly gathering takes place from 14 – 18 November in Cancun Mexico. Highlights of the five-day gathering include keynote speeches by Obama’s blogger-in- chief Sam Graham-Felson and environmentalist Philippe Cousteau. There will also be dozens of workshops and sessions focusing on critical global issues including housing, consumption, production, associated work, health, credit unions, insurance and sustainability, and perhaps most importantly, raising public awareness of co-operatives and the positive impact they have on the world’s economy.