‘Cooperatives for development’ conference



The International Co-operative Alliance’s Global Conference ‘Cooperatives for Development’ took place between 14th and 17th of October in Kigali, Rwanda. The conference saw a participation of high-level international development participants such as Vandana Shiva as keynote speaker.  The conference highlighted the importance of partnerships across cooperative sectors as well as working together with unions, local authorities, NGOs and other movements. Conclusions of the conference also saw a call towards the governments and intergovernmental actors to ensure sustained political commitment towards an enabling environment for multi-stakeholder policy dialogue acknowledging cooperatives as a key actor for development at all levels.

ICA-EU partnership (#coops4dev) parallel sessions

Part of the conference was dedicated to the activities of the ICA-EU partnership #coops4dev. The four parallel sessions on 15th October looked at how cooperatives can be key actors of collective action to achieve the UN’s Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and included sessions on tackling inequalities, women’s’ empowerment, cooperative entrepreneurship and innovation, and globalization of inclusive ethical value chains. Read summaries of all the sessions here.

The session on Women’s empowerment at the forefront of sustainable development (SDG5) focused on how the cooperative model can better support women’s economic and political participation, with the objective of raising awareness among both male and female participants, including leaders and decision makers in cooperatives. Director Agnes Mathis in her closing remarks, said: “We shouldn’t be afraid to address gender balance in our movement. Even if a lot is done, we have not yet reached our goal. Women need to become coop members, managers and decision makers all at the same time.” 

Plenary session on cooperatives and peace

On the third day of the conference a plenary session was held on the contributions of cooperatives to peace and equality, with a focus on positive peace and examples from around the world. President Jean-Louis Bancel reminded of our latest report on Cooperatives and Peace and insisted that though cooperatives are not in themselves the answer to all problems, they can help to address some of the factors that lead to conflict, such as extreme poverty.  He also highlighted the need for favorable national environments, where law and democracy are respected, to ensure the ability for cooperatives to develop and flourish.  Read more from the session here. 

ICA pre-conference meetings

Third meeting of the International Cooperative Development Platform

Chaired by Anders Lago from HSB (Sweden), the third meeting of the International Cooperative Development Platform gathered Cooperative Development Organizations (CDOs) from across the globe, with a central focus on partnership, where Dirk Vansintjan of REScoop.eu showcased the work on energy transition done in Europe and beyond. He gave several examples of partnerships between renewable energy cooperatives and local authorities to create energy communities.

ICA Youth Committee meeting

The ICA Youth Committee, chaired by Young European Cooperators Platform’s member Sebastien Chaillou (France), met in Kigali to share ideas, exchange experiences and discuss how the cooperative movement could promote an increased youth representation within cooperatives. New members were elected to the executive committee, including Andrea Sangiorgi (Italy) who will be joining Ana Aguirre (Spain) from the European region in the committee. Participants also discussed the upcoming Global Youth Forum on Cooperative Entrepreneurship – a key event for coop youth this year.

ICA gender committee

A workshop on cooperatives and feminism was also held part of the pre-conference activities, and saw Marjaana Saarikoski from Finland’s SOK Group take the floor. Read more here.

Read the conclusions of the event

View the photo gallery 

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