Big finale set for International Year of Co-operatives

30 Aug 2012


 A number of global keynote speakers will be celebrating the finale of the International Year of Co-operatives next month at Co-operatives United, which includes the ICA's General Assembly and ICAEXPO. Co-operatives United: World Festival and ICAEXPO takes place from 29 October until 2 November in Manchester, England, and is the ICA's culmination event for the International Year. The opening ceremony will be headlined by José Graziano da Silva, the Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), who will join thousands of other delegates from the UK and across the world. The FAO has shown strong support for co-operatives throughout 2012, including dedicating World Food Day (16 October) to agricultural co-operatives and showing how the sector is the "key to feeding the world". Following the opening ceremony, the ICA's Extraordinary General Assembly will discuss and make a decision on the Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade, alongside refinements to the subscription formula and the relocation of the ICA to Brussels, Belgium. Alongside the General Assembly, the Gender Forum will feature leading international figures from the co-operative sector and focus on how co-operatives can address gender imbalance in the business world. Keynote speakers include Agnes Bolsø, Associate Professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, who will highlight the action taken to make Norway a world leader in gender equality in business. On Thursday, a day of presentations and debate focusing on growing the co-operative economy will be facilitated by the BBC Business's Steph McGovern. Monique Leroux, Chief Executive Officer of Desjardins, will address delegates in a special session during the UK's premier event for co-operatives, Co-operative Congress. Carlo Borzaga, President of the European research network Euricse, will also be looking at international case studies of co-operative business performance and how these successes can be replicated elsewhere. Continuing the finance theme, Kristen Christian, the Founder of the Bank Transfer Day movement in the US, will discuss how she helped thousands of people shift their banking to credit unions through social media. Friday will feature the Practitioners’ Forum, an annual gathering of professionals who meet to network, learn and share best practice with a focus on accountancy, HR, marketing communications and corporate governance.  The event will be opened by Martin Lowry, Chief Executive of the National Rural Electric Co-operative Association, who will focus on the main drivers of business performance behind one of the most successful parts of the United States co-operative sector. The ICAEXPO will be open from Wednesday until Friday and will bring together over 50 co-operatives from 35 countries. Visitors will get the chance to learn about many different co-operatives such as the world’s leading producers of maple products — from Canadian producers Citadelle; how co-operatives are playing an important role in the economic development of Asian nations and how NTUC Fairprice Co-operative Ltd became Singapore’s largest retailer and helped to reduce the country’s cost of living. • To find out more about Co-operatives United, and to book your place, visit: Picture: José Graziano da Silva, Monique Leroux and Kristen Christian.