The Blueprint, which was launched in a draft format at the General Assembly last October, sets out a path that envisions co-operatives to be the fastest growing form of enterprise by 2020.
Following comment and discussion, the Manchester General Assembly approved the document, which is now issued in its final form. The 2020 vision is for the co-operative form of business to become the acknowledged leader in economic, social and environmental sustainability; the model preferred by people; and the fastest growing form of enterprise.
This vision seeks to build on the achievements of the International Year and the resilience demonstrated by the movement since the global financial collapse.
Charles Gould, Director-General of the ICA, said: "This is an historic moment of opportunity for the co-operative sector. With political institutions in many nations struggling to keep up with a rapidly changing world, it is essential that citizens become increasingly resourceful, enterprising and co-operative in order to face the inevitable social and environmental challenges we face as a world community.
"By 2020, poverty will have increased, the plight of young people will have deteriorated, and global warming will be having more frequent impacts on everyday life. By 2020, we need to be able to look back on 2012 as representing a turning point for the co-operative idea, and the contribution it is making to people’s security, well-being and happiness."
To pursue the 2020 Vision, the document outlines five critical themes to form part of the co-operative sector's agenda, which have been devised by Cliff Mills and Will Davies, Centre for Mutual and Employee-owned Business, University of Oxford, under the guidance of an ICA Planning Work Group.
These critical themes are:
1 Elevate participation within membership and governance to a new level
2 Position co-operatives as builders of sustainability
3 Build the co-operative message and secure the co-operative identity
4 Ensure supportive legal frameworks for co-operative growth
5 Secure reliable co-operative capital while guaranteeing member control
Each chapter of the Blueprint concludes with actions that might be taken in pursuit of these goals. It is for the ICA and co-operatives to implement a strategy, according to the Blueprint, and to regularly assess progress and impact across a wide range of factors including social, environmental and economic.
Mr Gould added: "Co-operatives already make a significant contribution towards alleviating these pressing global problems. But, with appropriate support and greater understanding and recognition, they could contribute much more. We therefore believe that the major priorities are to make far more people aware of the co-operative form of enterprise, to provide people with the tools and back-up to establish, fund and develop sustainable co-operatives, and to remove barriers that get in their way.
"Hence the purpose of this document is to set out a proposed Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade, and provide a clear direction for the coming years. The challenge now is for the ICA, national bodies, sector groups, co-operative societies and individual members to take this Blueprint forward into implementation."