Last month over 1,500 co-operators in the Americas region met in Cartagena for the 3rd Co-operative Summit of the Americas. The event culminated with the passing of the Declaration of Cartagena, which sets out a number of objectives for the co-operative movement in the region.
One of the main barriers faced by co-operatives in the Americas is increasing awareness over their social and economic impact. While 250m people are currently active in the co-operative sector in Latin America, various factors continue to influence the extent to which co-ops are able to raise awareness of their important contribution.
These can be existing legislative and regulatory frameworks in certain states, disloyal competition among co-operatives, lack of entrepreneurial vision and an increase in the number of members but a lack of understanding of the model’s core values and principles among these new members.
To address this, co-operators signing the declaration committed, among others, to strengthen economic networks within the sectors as well as to lead research project that would look at the socio and economic impact of co-operatives and promote the results. They also aim to develop various projects that would include children and young people to ensure the movement’s future and to strengthen co-operative identity and democracy within co-operative structures.
The declaration also points out that co-operatives need to show innovation in order to lead to the transformation of the society. According to the document, this could be achieved by developing programmes focused on gender equality and youth and incorporating adequate technologies of information and communication that optimise management and favour participation.
Another concern for the movement in the Americas is how to increase the reach and impact of co-operatives at regional and global level, without impacting on their co-operative identity. The co-operative system must be an efficient instrument and a powerful platform for social transformation, reads the document.
The declaration supports the participation of the Colombian movement in the peace consolidation process by fostering social inclusion and citizens’ participation. The document also highlights the importance of continuing the collaboration between Co-operatives of the Americas and Cooperatives Europe.
Within the context of the Summit, representatives of the Network of Parliamentarians and the Network of Promotion, Development and Supervision of Co-operatives of the Americas attended a meeting together. Parliamentarians from Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Paraguay attended the event. They were joined by representatives from co-operative development and supervision bodies from Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico and Paraguay.
The conclusions of this meeting were included in an annex part of the Declaration of Cartagena. In this document, parliamentarians and representatives from co-operative development and supervision bodies committed to promoting the co-operative message and co-operative difference among decision makers, suggest changes in education to incorporate the co-operative model and supporting the Co-operative Green pact developed by Co-operatives of the Americas.
The full text of the declaration is available online (in Spanish).
Photo: Delegates at the Summit in Cartagena (c) Co-operatives of the Americas