Co-operators discuss youth engagement across Asia Pacific

13 Aug 2013

In advance of August's International Youth Day more than 600 delegates from across the Asia Pacific region met in Buldana, India, to discuss the role of youth in co-operatives.

The July event marked the 6th Meeting of ICA Asia Pacific Committee on Youth Co-operation and coincided with ICA Asia Pacific Youth Forum, which looked at “youth as a strategic group for co-operative development”.

Representatives from 14 ICA members from 12 different countries within the Asia Pacific region debated how to engage with youth.

Members also adopted a new constitution and a youth board, with Dr Sukesh Zamwar elected as Chair of ICA Asia Pacific Committee on Youth Cooperation and Ahsan Ali Thakur and Udaya Prabhath as vice-chairs until the regional assembly in 2016.

Delegates also had the chance to listen to various presentations by young co-operators, sharing their knowledge and experiences. They also touched upon creating online platforms and offering the necessary technology support to empower young people.

Babak Koshnesivan, from the Iranian Chamber of Co-operatives, said that engaging with youth had been a big challenge for the co-operative sector in Iran. He argued that with the right policies, the Middle Eastern region could increase youth involvement.

Vishal Singh from India’s National Consumer Cooperative Federation said that involving young people in drafting communication strategies and marketing projects through online platforms would benefit co-ops.

Indira Panta from the National Agriculture Co-operative Federation Limited said Nepalese federations are doing substantial efforts to take the co-op movement forward. She said the input of young people could prove to be useful not only to co-operatives, but also to society as a whole.

Delegates at the meeting have also touched upon Principle Six, “co-operation among co-operatives". Zoljargal Munkhsaikhan of the Mongolian International Centre for Co-operative Training said cross-national co-operatives could ease tension amongst nations within WTO. Co-operation amongst co-operatives is also crucial to achieving peace, argued the delegates during their discussions in Buldana. They also suggested that co-operatives producing similar products led a single marketing campaign to promote each other.

Udaya Prabath from COOPFED Sri Lanka described the country in the aftermath of the civil war. With the UN Youth Conference due to take place in Colombo in 2014, Mr Prabath said he would promote the idea of having co-operative representation at the event. He added that COOPFED will carry out a co-operative youth seminar in parallel with the UN Conference.

The Committee decided to provide an online platform for debate and discussions for the Asia Pacific youth during the ICA Global conference in Cape Town and to create another web platform for co-operatives focused on the UN Youth Conference in Sri Lanka in 2014.

Photo: Asia Pacific Youth members at the 6th Committee Meeting in Buldana.

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