By Todor Ivanov, Secretary General of CCW/Euro Coop
On April 19, Consumer Co-operatives Worldwide (CCW), in conjunction with Euro Coop (European Community of Consumer Co-operatives) organised a Global Conference at the European Economic and Social Committee.
The Conference brought together representatives of consumer co-operatives from across the world, who engaged in a fruitful exchange of good practices. The first panel titled “COOP Products: Serving Members” addressed the issue of communicating the co-operative distinctiveness through own-branded products and opportunities for building Coop2Coop trade with an accent on Coop-branded goods. The second panel, “COOP e-commerce: Technological Solutions & Opportunities for Growth” saw members discuss development of innovative digital services to the benefit of consumer-members, as well as the implementation of cloud systems for back-office operations.
Consumer Co-operatives Worldwide (CCW) brings together 28 national organisations, which represent 75,000,000 members, and through their economic activities, with a total annual turnover of $ 50 billion.
One of the Conference’s highlights was the keynote speech, delivered by Luca Jahier, President of Group III: Various Interests within the European Economic and Social Committee.
Mr Jahier emphasised the benefits of the co-operative model for society, especially in providing a participatory system, which safeguards democracy and promotes social responsibility. President Jahier stressed that co-operatives have unique assets – their structure, culture, and history – which must be utilised by co-operatives so that they become the leader within the social economy sphere, as this would contribute to gaining more recognition by decision-makers. In his opinion, this recognition is overdue because in the past eight years of crisis, the only model of enterprise, which has registered any growth, regardless of which sector of the economy, was the co-operative enterprise.
Here, president Jahier believes the International Co-operative Alliance has a vital role to play as the organisation which consolidates the global co-operative movement and therefore, it is responsible for maintaining the movement’s strong social responsibility profile, as well as ensuring that co-operatives worldwide speak in one voice – an area where more needs to be done. President Jahier concluded that overall the welfare state is at stake and co-operatives are the closest entities to the people and thus best placed to harness the changes powered by citizens and work with them in their search for more democracy, solidarity and fairness.
Monique Leroux, president of the International Co-operative Alliance, as well as Dirk Lehnoff, president of Cooperatives Europe were also in attendance. President Leroux is delighted and impressed to see that consumer co-operatives are actively working and collaborating amongst each other in finding better ways to serve their members through co-operative conventional retail and e-commerce. She said she looked forward to working closer with the global sectoral organisations and she sees a great opportunity for CCW to establish a global supply chain and Coop2Coop trade (from producer to consumer), the successes of which will be a crucial contribution to the objectives of the Alliance Blueprint in making the Co-operative Decade 2020 a reality.
Last month the Alliance has also published a sustainability reporting guidebook for co-operatives. You can find the guidebook here.
Photo: Luca Jahier