More than 1,800 cooperators are meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, this week for the International Co-operative Alliance’s Global Conference and General Assembly. Over the next three days, cooperators from around the world will examine how cooperatives are putting people at the center of development and will elect a new president and full Board of Directors.
Delegates have been welcomed at the event by the Minister of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumers of Malaysia, Hamzah Zainudin. Malaysia is home to 12,000 cooperatives with over seven million members and a turnover of RM 34,950.98m (USD $8,126.29m). Their apex body, ANGKASA, which is co-hosting this week’s conference, was founded in 1966 to unify Malaysian co-ops and represent them at national and international level.
“I am very honored that our country has been selected as the host country for this renowned conference. Having so many leaders from over 90 countries is something we should be very proud of. We can learn from each other,” said Minister Zainudin.
Monique F. Leroux, president of the International Co-operative Alliance, told the audience, “We can never say enough about how much the movement contributed to a better world. There is a wonderful diversity in this room, with women, men, young and not-so-young people from different countries. We are united in diversity.”
“In fact, the cooperative movement has always been destined to remain a modern movement, always at the forefront of promising social and economic innovations. This explains why the cooperative movement is benefiting not only its members, but all people and why the cooperative movement is bringing positive changes to communities and societies around the world.”
More than 1,800 delegates from around the world have travelled to Kuala Lumpur for the conference. The global event features keynote speaker Gro Harlem Brundtland, former prime minister of Norway, whose 1987 report for the World Commission on Environment and Development coined the concept of sustainable development. In Malaysia, she will talk about the implications for building a more sustainable future as a united movement.
Another speaker at the conference, Linda Yueh, a leading economist and fellow in economics at Oxford University, will give a global outlook on economic, social and environmental challenges, with a focus on Asia, our hosting region, and discuss the possible contributions of cooperatives to address them.
The event’s program promises a diverse schedule structured around four interactive themes: learn, experiment, network and explore. On Wednesday, the program will also include debates, workshops and networking sessions covering subjects such as the cooperative potential for the refugee crisis, what the collaborative economy is and why co-ops should care, as well as how cooperatives, in collaboration with other civil society actors, have the possibility to deploy significant resources to lift people out of poverty, to empower local communities and to improve the lives of billions across the globe.
On Thursday, the conference will launch the new edition of the World Co-operative Monitor. In this session, delegates will examine the state of the sector, looking at the 2017 findings of the World Co-operative Monitor. The report presents a global picture of the co-operative movement, with a list of the world’s largest co-operatives as well as an analysis of the socio-economic value and impact of co-operatives both within a global scenario and in their regional and national contexts. Three simultaneous sessions will then look at the existing legal hurdles co-ops still face, the path towards better statistics on cooperatives and building sustainable supply chains, among others.
On Friday, delegates will attend the Alliance’s General Assembly, which will include the election of the Board of Directors and a new president. The two candidates for the presidency are Ariel Guarco from Argentina and Yogeshwar Krishna from Fiji, who shared their views on the future of the Alliance. Read the interviews with the two candidates here: Ariel Guarco and Yogeshwar Krishna.
A biennial event, the Global Conference and General Assembly is one of the cooperative movement’s most important business events. This year’s meeting will show the sector’s contribution to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.