Putting people at the centre of development: Malaysia welcomes Global Conference

14 Nov 2017

More than 1,800 co-operators are meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for the International Co-operative Alliance’s Global Conference and General Assembly (14- 17 November). Over the next three days co-operators from around the world will examine how co-operatives are putting people at the centre of development. They will also elect a new president and full board.

Delegates will be welcomed to the event by Malaysia's Minister of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumers, YB Datuk Seri Hamzah Bin Zainudin. The country is home to 12,000 co-operatives with over seven million members and a combined turnover of RM 34,950.98m (USD $8,126.29m). Their apex body, ANGKASA, which is co-hosting the conference, was founded in 1966 to unify Malaysian co-ops and represent them at national and international level.

Minister YB Datuk Seri Hamzah Bin Zainudin said the government would work with ANGKASA to ensure the co-operative movement in the country would continue to grow.

“I am honoured that our country has been selected as the country host for this renowned conference. Having so many leaders from over 90 countries is something we should be very proud of. We can learn from each other.”

Monique F. Leroux, President of the International Co-operative Alliance, shared with the audience: “"We can never say enough about how much the movement contributed to a better world. There is a wonderful diversity in this room, with women, men, young and not so young people from different countries. We are united in diversity".

“In fact, the co-operative movement has always been destined to remain a modern movement, always at the forefront of promising social and economic innovations. This explains why the co-operative movement is benefiting not only its members but all people and why the co-operative movement is bringing positive changes in communities and societies across the world.”

Keynote speakers at the Assembly include Gro Harlem Brundtland, former prime minister of Norway, whose 1987 report for the World Commission on Environment and Development coined the concept of sustainable development. In Malaysia she will talk about the implications for building a more sustainable future as a united movement.

The second keynote speaker, Linda Yueh, a fellow in economics at Oxford University, will give a global outlook on economic, social, and environmental challenges, with a focus on Asia, the hosting region, and discuss the possible contributions of co-operatives to address them.

Two-day debates on how co-operatives put people at the centre of development

The event’s programme promises a diverse schedule structured around four interactive themes: learn, experiment, network and explore.

On Wednesday, 15 November, there will be debates, workshops and networking sessions covering subjects such as co-operative solutions to the refugee crisis, what the collaborative economy is and why co-ops should care, and how co-operatives, in collaboration with other civil society actors, have the potential to deploy significant resources to lift people out of poverty, to empower local communities and to improve the lives of billions around world. And a study assessing the worldwide contribution or co-operatives to healthcare will also be launched.

On Thursday, 16 November, the conference will kick off with the launch of the new edition of the World Co-operative Monitor and the presentation of the 2017 Rochdale Pioneers award. Delegates will examine the state of the sector, looking at the 2017 findings of the Monitor. A global picture of the co-operative movement, it lists the world’s largest co-operatives and offers an analysis of the socio-economic value and impact of co-ops on a global, regional and national level.

Three simultaneous sessions will then look at the existing legal hurdles co-ops face, the path towards better statistics on co-operatives, and building sustainable supply chains.

Additional workshops and debates include a look at how co-operatives can move workers from the informal to the formal economy and how multi-stakeholder co-operatives are innovating in co-operative governance. A closing plenary includes the presentation by Dr Brundtland. This will be followed by a debate with the candidates for the Alliance’s presidency, who will offer their perspectives for the future of the co-operative movement.

New President to be elected

On Friday delegates will attend the Alliance’s General Assembly, which includes the election of the Alliance Board and a new President. The two candidates for the presidency are Ariel Guarco from Argentina and Yogeshwar Krishna from Fiji, who shared their views on the future of the Alliance. Read interviews with the two candidates here: Ariel Guarco and Yogeshwar Krishna.

The official meeting documentation is also available in English, French and Spanish and includes the full agenda.

A biennial event, the Global Conference and General Assembly is one of the co-operative movement’s most important events. This year’s meeting will show the sector’s contribution to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Download the official conference programme.