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Historic First at the B20 Business Summit: Co-operative Sector at the Table


The Business 20 (B20) will convene international business leaders from the G20 countries in Cannes this November, among them the summit’s first cooperative representative, Dr. Andrew Crane, CEO of Australian grain cooperative CBH. Crane’s appointment to the B20 is expected to bring a new perspective on economic diversity and resiliency in times of crisis to the summit, the International Co-operative Alliance said in this media release:

As B20 talks in Australia are to start, Australian Dr. Andrew Crane’s appointment to the Business 20 marks the first time ever a business leader from the co-operative sector joins the B20.

According to the World Co-operative Monitor, the top 300 co-operatives and mutuals of the world have a turnover of USD $2 trillion, equivalent to the world’s ninth largest economy, while co-operatives generate 20 percent more jobs than multinational companies (a limited sample size of one million co-operatives already accounts for 100 million jobs globally). A economic balancing force for joint-stock enterprise, co-operatives and mutuals play a key role in achieving sustainable, balanced growth and employment.

The 2014 B20 meeting will finalize recommendations for the G20 summit at a time when governments look to move to a growth agenda following years of post GFC stabilization. The co-operative sector’s demonstrated resilience during the financial downturn has sparked governments’ interest in co-operatives’ enterprise model and its potential to make the economy more diverse by being an alternative to investor enterprise. Using his co-operative experience, Dr. Crane will tie sustainable economic growth to social and environmental considerations when contributing to the B20’s policy recommendations.

“Co-operatives from global brands like Fonterra, Associated Press and Ocean Spray to the many producer owned businesses supplying Fair-trade products are strong, commercially focused enterprises. They are also focused on their members, which means they are in the business for their members and the local communities where they are based,” Crane said.

“I am looking forward to the opportunity to share co-operative business ideas to the G20 agenda of promoting growth, creating jobs and building resilience in the global economy,” he added.

“The B20 success is hugely important for the Alliance. It is a key strand of our advocacy work outlined in the Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade, which sets out the strategy for the movement until the end of this decade and beyond,” said Dame Pauline Green, president of the International Co-operative Alliance.

“The G20 is increasingly dominant in deciding the future direction of the global economy. During the G20 meetings, the voice of the B20 is sought on the key issues under discussion by the leaders of the 20 most important economies in the world,” Green said.

“If, as the Blueprint demands, we are to grow the worldwide movement in the coming years, our challenge now is to ensure that when the B20 meets in Brisbane in November 2014, Andrew Crane is not alone in making sure that the co-operative difference is understood and valued,” she added.

ICA Director-General Charles Gould said, “Co-operatives face the same commercial challenges as all businesses and are just as focused on a strong bottom line. However, their distinct member-ownership structures contributed to higher levels of resilience during the global financial downturn.”

“International research,” Gould added, “has demonstrated that co-operatives were particularly resilient in times of economic hardship, and had demonstrated the capacity to minimize job losses and even increase employment in regions hardest hit during the recent downturn [in countries] such as Italy and Spain.”

Dr. Crane is a well-known business executive within the co-operative movement, being CEO of CBH Group, a co-operative that is Australia’s leading grains organization, dealing with 40 percent of the nation’s annual grain crop. One of the main speakers at the prestigious International Summit of Co-operatives in Quebec this October, Dr. Crane will provide the international forum with an insight into how to grow membership by meeting the changing needs of members.

For more information about the Summit, click here.

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