QUEBEC CITY, Oct. 9, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - Today marks the close of the 2014 International Summit of Cooperatives, which has brought together over 3,000 participants from 93 countries along with 200 well-known speakers. Discussions during the four-day summit focused on economic issues, the development of cooperative businesses, food security, employment, and access to health care and services.
Indisputable economic impact
Considerable ground has been covered since the first edition of the Summit was convened in 2012, coinciding with the United Nations' International Year of Cooperatives. During the past two years, the cooperative movement was invited—for the first time—to participate in B20 discussions and to partner strategically with a number of international organizations, including the International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations (UN), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the World Bank.
This year's Summit illustrated more clearly how important the cooperative movement is to the world economy. As cited in various studies that were presented during the Summit, there are 2.6 million cooperatives worldwide, with 1 billion members and 250 million jobs. Within the G20 nations, cooperatives account for 12% of all jobs and annual revenue of US$3 000 billion.
"This Summit has shown us that cooperatives and mutuals can be part of the solution to the significant challenges facing the world today," said Monique F. Leroux, Chair of the Board, President and CEO of Desjardins Group and Summit co-host. "None of these enormous challenges can be solved at just the regional or national levels, nor can government alone resolve the issues. Response must be organized on a global scale, and rather than confrontation and 'everyone for themselves,' dialog and cooperation are what is really needed."
Dame Pauline Green, president of the International Cooperative Alliance and Summit co-host declared: "I am pleased and excited at the wealth of studies and policy tools presented at the 2014 Summit. The new World Co-operative Monitor launched this week, reveals the turnover of the largest 300 co-operatives – 2 200 billion USD, equivalent to the GDP of Brazil. It shows that co-ops are a global player, and a genuine counterweight to investor enterprise. This is now showing as a steady upward trend over the last 10 years. The Alliance's brand new Survey on Co-operative Capital presented today, shows that co-operatives are securing non-traditional, reliable streams of capital while guaranteeing member control and preserving the co-operative difference. I also warmly welcome the "Co-operatives and Employment Global Report". It shows that 250 million people worldwide have work within co-operatives. We can now say with confidence that co-operatives contribute to resilient employment and a sustainable economy. They make up almost 12% of the entire employed population of the G20 countries. This new solid evidence allows us to go to global decision makers with confidence, to make this new case for proper recognition of our co-operative model of business."
Solution for myriad global issues
Various studies presented during the week revealed how the cooperative business model has helped societies improve health, increase prosperity, lower unemployment rates, and address inequality. For instance, financial cooperatives clearly demonstrated their resilience during the recent financial crisis. Some have even been ranked among the world's strongest financial institutions, as is the case with Desjardins Group, which was ranked second in the annual list published by Bloomberg Markets magazine.
The 2014 Summit Declaration: Committed to doing more, and doing it better
The closing ceremony presented the draft declaration for 2014, setting forth 23 specific commitments to shape action in the coming years. They include:
- Increase the role of financial cooperatives in financial inclusion on a global scale
- Facilitate access to agricultural land and help maintain local ownership
- Continue efforts to improve rural populations' access to affordable energy for food processing and preservation
- Encourage changes to policies that can leave people in developing countries more vulnerable or lead to financing and operational rules that impede cooperative development
- Develop innovative solutions to help communities manage health care and services themselves by making citizens central to solutions, with a clear focus on prevention and the promotion of healthy lifestyle habits
- Develop initiatives to support the startup, consolidation, and growth of cooperative enterprises, including by assisting with capitalization
In closing, the 2014 draft declaration reasserts the strength and vigor of the cooperative and mutual movement and emphasizes the leading role it must play to meet today's challenges and ensure a better world tomorrow. As it notes, cooperatives "have reaffirmed that, as builders of local economies and drivers of a more stable, more inclusive, and more humane global economy, they are making an undeniable contribution to the creation of sustainable prosperity."
About the 2014 International Summit of Cooperatives
Held at the initiative of Desjardins Group and the International Co-operative Alliance, the second International Summit of Cooperatives brings together decision makers and influencers from the international cooperative and mutual community in Quebec City, Canada, from October 6 to 9, 2014. This international economic gathering's bold, ambitious themes will also garner the attention and interest of numerous world socioeconomic leaders and politicians.
Image with caption: "Monique F. Leroux, Chair of the Board, President and CEO of Desjardins Group, and Dame Pauline Green, President of the International Co-operative Alliance, co-hosts of the International Summit of Cooperatives (CNW Group/2014 International Summit of Cooperatives)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20141009_C2281_PHOTO_EN_6567.jpg
SOURCE: 2014 International Summit of Cooperatives
For further information: (for journalists only): Mathieu Lavallée, Media Relations, International Summit of Cooperatives, +1-514-947-7628, [email protected]; Jan Schiettecatte, Director of Communications, International Co-operative Alliance, +1-418-53-0341, [email protected]