Blueprint Focus: Increasing participation in co-operatives

27 Mar 2013

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In a special series of articles, eDigest is examining the Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade to see how each chapter is currently being supported by co-operatives . . .

Co-operatives have an opportunity to elevate participation to a new level, according to the Blueprint.

In Participation, the first chapter of the document, members are at the forefront, which highlights the voice that people have in co-operatives, whether this power is handled by consumers or workers.

The Blueprint highlights the disenchantment felt by young people all over the world and directs co-operatives to offer a genuine welcome to this group — a generation that is helping to shape the future.

Already, co-operatives around the world are engaging youth to take part in the movement and subsequently raising awareness of co-operatives. Last year the Food and Agriculture Organization backed youth as the future for agricultural co-operatives. It cited that young people are a large percentage of rural populations, and often are left unemployed. 

In Europe, a Young Cooperative Leaders Forum united the youth across the continent where they were asked to share their views and learn how co-operatives can provide inspiration, training, decision-making, innovation, collaboration, commitment and action.

At the close of the International Year of Co-operatives at the United Nations’ New York headquarters, a Youth Forum invited young people to engage with the movement and led to the creation of a Youth Statement that focuses on how co-ops can empower, employ and engage the new generation.

This youth statement was formed at the International Summit of Cooperatives in Quebec, where a Future Cooperative Leaders Program was set up. More than 180 co-operators between the age of 20–35 attended the Summit and they also fed their views into the Declaration of the Summit, which subsequently added to the final text of the Blueprint.

Stéphane Bertrand, Executive Director of the Summit, and a member of the Blueprint’s Planning Working Group, emphasised the importance of engaging with the youth. He said: "We expect young people to participate in debates and roundtables. We need to make an even greater effort to enable young people to get fully involved in co-op development.”

He added that the next Summit, which is confirmed for October in 2014, will continue the conversation with youth who will be involved as delegates, volunteers or members of the organising committee.

• To find out more about the goals around Participation, and how to achieve these, download the Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade.