A Formal Commitment to Sustainable Development
Quebec City, October 13, 2016 – Today marks the end of the third International Summit of Cooperatives, an initiative of the International Co-operative Alliance and Desjardins Group, at the Québec City Convention Centre. From October 11 to 13, 235 highly respected speakers, 2,950 participants from 116 countries, and some 60 domestic and foreign media representatives attended the largest international gathering of cooperatives and mutuals, this year focused on “the power to act” of cooperatives.
This edition demonstrated the vigour and scope of the range of actions available to cooperatives and mutuals, which account for more than 2.6 million businesses, 1.3 billion members and close to 15% of the world’s economy. For many speakers, the true power of cooperatives stems from their long-term vision, their collaborative spirit, and the integration of social progress with economic success, three factors that are shaping tomorrow’s economy.
During three days filled with constructive debates, the exchanges were fuelled by enlightening discussions about the key global issues as seen by some of the leading economic thinkers, including Nobel Laureate in Economics Joseph Stiglitz, US economic and social theorist Jeremy Rifkin, eminent opinion leader Robert Reich, Founder and Managing Director of FSG Mark Kramer and global advisor in innovation and leadership Navi Radjou.
The participants naturally addressed the challenges specific to cooperatives and mutuals, including the capacity to act on the real economy, the growing role of women in positions of leadership, new business practices and issues in different sectors. The discussions were enhanced by input provided by distinguished representatives of the cooperative and business sectors, such as Liz Bailey, Principal, The Bailey Group LLC, Howard Brodsky, Chief Executive Officer, Chairman and Co-Founder, CCA Global Partners, Anne-Marie Hubert, Managing Partner in Quebec of Ernst & Young, Takashi Kanno, President, Fukushima Mirai Agricultural Cooperative, Michel-Édouard Leclerc, President, Centres E. Leclerc, Fatima Marouan, Minister, Ministry of Handicrafts, Social Economy and Solidarity, Morocco, Mélina Morrisson, CEO, Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals, Liu Ting, Deputy Director, All China Federation of Supply and Marketing Co-operatives (ACFSMC) and Maria Ubarretxena Cid, Mayor, City of Mondragon, Spain.
A first in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals
Cooperative and mutual businesses also reaffirmed their capacity, by virtue of their nature and values, to contribute to sustainable development. This is the first time that an international economic group has committed to support the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to eradicate poverty, protect the planet, and guarantee prosperity for all. Thus, the last day of the Summit was dedicated to mass reflection, as participants identified several courses of action for achieving the goals.
This session began with an exchange involving UN ambassadors H.E. Harald Braun, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Germany to the UN, H.E. Marc-André Blanchard, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Canada to the UN, H.E. Horacio Sevilla Borja, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the UN, H.E. Sukhbold Sukhee, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to the UN, and H.E. Sarah Mendelson, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the United States on the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
To crystallize this collective effort, the resulting commitments and initiatives will be broadcast on Co-ops for 2030 in order to mobilize the entire cooperative and mutual sector.
“It is clear that together, cooperatives can contribute to sustainable prosperity. The ideas and proposals put forward during this brainstorming session, as well as during the numerous Summit activities, attest to our movement’s vitality. The quality of interventions at the round tables, presentations and workshops was frequently mentioned by the Summit participants. I am very proud of the success of this event, which constitutes a true springboard to the future,” indicated Monique F. Leroux, President of the International Summit of Co-operatives and Summit co-host.
“I leave this Summit with renewed determination to make more room for young people as members, employees and managers in our cooperatives,” noted Desjardins Group President and CEO Guy Cormier. “That is one of the keys to remaining relevant in our markets and to forging ahead in the digital era. The other strong factor in my experience is putting faces on the new opportunities for joint cooperation in Quebec, Canada and elsewhere in the world. It was fascinating to meet cooperators from every part of the planet who are innovating to better serve, and to develop cooperatives that are always better connected and stronger.”
Preliminary Summit 2016 Declaration
The preliminary Summit 2016 Declaration containing the orientations for the coming years will be available on the Summit website starting tomorrow. It will highlight the cooperative movement’s commitment to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The preliminary Declaration will reflect the commitments made by cooperatives and mutuals at the brainstorming sessions on food security, employment, access to health care and social services, poverty and financial inclusion, as well as climate change and sustainable development.
Convinced of the importance of the cooperative business model to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, the Declaration will also propose some ambitious goals to promote the growth and reputation of cooperative and mutual businesses.
About the International Summit of Cooperatives
The International Summit of Cooperatives is the global reference point for business development in the world of cooperatives and mutuals. It offers managers, decision-makers and leaders of cooperatives and mutuals of every size and in every sector, as well as every player in the business world, a unique forum for reflexion, discussion, consultation and education about current and future leading trends and economic and financial issues. By demonstrating that the cooperative business model is one of the answers to the main social and economic issues of our times, the Summit aims to promote and foster the development of cooperative businesses in every country.