The XIX Regional Conference of Cooperatives of the Americas, held last month on September 14 – 18 in Panama City, Panama, brought together regional leaders from the Americas to discuss continued action toward the 2020 Cooperative Vision. Setting the stage for the event were regional and international leaders of the cooperative movement including the president of the Cooperatives of the Americas Ramon Imperial, Regional Director of the Cooperatives of the Americas Manuel Mariño, ICA President Dame Pauline Green, and ICA Director-General Charles Gould.
The event centered on the 2020 Vision as introduced in 2012, the United Nations Year of The Cooperative, and the five years left to realize it. Mr. Mariño reflecting on the event’s purpose said, “To reach the ambitious objectives we’ve set with the 2020 Vision, it is critical for organizations of our movement to appropriate the Blueprint for a Cooperative Decade and make it their own. This is why the central purpose of this regional conference in Panama is to take substantial strides in that direction, with sure and firm steps.”
The program was rich with inspiration from cooperative leaders from its northernmost represented attendees in Canada to its southern most in Argentina and Chile. Highlighting the event were several keynote speakers including Howard Brodsky, founder and CEO of CCA Global Partners in the United States, who spoke on Building A Better World Now and immediate actions cooperatives can take together with inspirational education strategies for employees, members, and the universal public. Mr. Brodsky participated in an impactful program on Thursday September 17th, sharing the stage with two prominent figures in the cooperative movement in South America, Dr. Luis Razeto, Director of the Solidarity Foundation and the Habitat for Humanity Foundation in Chile, and Ariel Guarco, President of the Cooperative Confederation of the Republic of Argentina and ICA presidential hopeful. The three leaders shared their philosophies and insights on the steps needed to generate momentum in achieving the 2020 Vision, all three pointing towards international effort and collaboration.
With almost 500 attendees the event was well representative of South and Central America and the Caribbean Island countries with group delegations from cooperatives in Columbia, Uruguay, El Salvador and Jamaica to name a few. Denyse Guy, Executive Director of Cooperatives and Mutuals Canada, gave her membership voice at the Panama event participating in multiple forums and roundtable discussions on industry governance and cooperative branding. From the United States Vanessa Bransburg, board member of the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives, and Amy Coughenour Betancourt, COO of NCBA CLUSA International, participated on behalf of their members. Ms. Coughenour participated in a big way in the planning months beforehand as a board member of the Cooperatives of the Americas and in the execution of the event’s daily program moderating discussions on governance and sharing her insight as a participant in other forums on cooperation.
Resonating throughout the conference was a strong focus on economic participation, core values centered around sustainability, and in Mr. Brodsky’s words, “a focus on why we (cooperatives) do what we do.” This energy at the Regional Conference of Cooperatives of the Americas was echoed by the United Nations adoption of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development on September 25th and will be carried to the International Cooperative Alliance Global Conference and General Assembly to be held on November 10-13th, 2015.
View materials from Howard Brodsky’s Building A Better World Now presentation at this event in the materials section of our site.