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International Summit of Cooperatives: The Power to Act

October 19, 2016

We Are Cooperatives: Member-owned businesses operating in every sector of the economy around the world. Member-ownership means that instead of being owned by a small group of outside investors, a credit union is owned by the people banking there; it means a food co-op grocery store is owned by the people shopping there; and it means a marketing brand of cheese is owned by the farmers producing the dairy. Examples of co-op member-ownership may look different, but every cooperative in the world is owned by and run for the benefit of its members – the people coming together to access a good or service through the co-op. Cooperatives are businesses leveraging scale to better address the economic needs of each member. Cooperatives are not just driven by profit. Rather, they are values-based businesses that create value for their members. Co-ops look to make a difference in the lives of people at the heart of their operations – values create value!

Driving success among cooperatives around the world is their continued effort to work together to help their members and build a better world for everyone. The largest cooperative event just happened, bringing together thousands of cooperators to discuss and envision a more cooperative and sustainable world.

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2,950 cooperators from 116 countries gathered in Quebec City, Canada for the third International Summit of Cooperatives from October 11-13th, 2016. The event was hosted by the International Co-operative Alliance, the global apex association of cooperative businesses, and Desjardins Group, one of the top cooperative financial groups in Canada. Featured at the Summit were presentations from prominent economic voices Joseph Stiglitz, Mark Kramer, Jeremy Rifkin, and Robert Reich; all speaking about the potential of cooperatives to change the course of the global economy for the better. The excitement included over 230 more speakers and gave thousands of cooperators the platform to share information, collaborate, and strategize about how cooperatives can work together across sectors to build a better world.

The focus was not on simply talking about what could be done; the focus was on taking action. The theme of the Summit this year was The Power to Act. Speakers lent their voices to many presentations and round table discussions about the need for cooperatives and mutuals to work together to leverage their strength in the global economy to help societies everywhere.

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During the Summit, many conversations discussed the role of cooperatives in solving issues around the world – for example, financial inclusion, human services, challenges with sustainable development, and climate change. Standing out among other leading businesses, cooperatives were the first group of enterprises globally to endorse the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set forth last fall. From the Summit, the 2016 preliminary Declaration of The Power to Act of Cooperatives commits the global cooperative movement to make tangible contributions to the SDGs via the Co-ops for 2030 campaign. Five UN ambassadors were present at the Summit, and they each called on the co-operative movement for help in reaching the SDGs. Marc-André Blanchard, the UN’s Canadian ambassador, said, “The world needs you. We need you to make this a success. I could not think of a better organizational structure than the cooperative movement to make this happen under this agenda.” Cooperatives are pledging their contributions and reporting their progress already! To pledge your co-op’s contribution, visit the Co-ops for 2030 website today.

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At the Summit, CCA Global Partners CEO and Cooperatives for a Better World Chairman Howard Brodsky had the honor of presenting with Monique F. Leroux, President of the International Co-operative Alliance. Brodsky and Leroux discussed the need for the cooperative story to be told around the world. Brodsky reminded cooperative leaders, “Ghandi said, ‘be the change you wish to see in the world,’ and we are that change. It is time we (cooperatives) share it with the world.”

This year’s Summit served as a gathering of cooperators to consolidate all of our Power to Act to build a better world with sustainable lives for everyone.

The following video captures cooperative leaders from around the world, who are building a better world now, together.

 

Materials, videos, and stories on cooperativesforabetterworld.coop, particularly on the Learn Page, are designed to help cooperators craft their stories to share with the world.

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Images from @IntlSummitCoop Twitter page.