Co-operators from around the world celebrated co-operation at a Co-operative Awards ceremony on October 31.
Roberto Rodrigues was honoured as the winner of the prestigious Rochdale Pioneers award. The former ICA President (1997-2001) and Brazilian Minister for Agriculture (2003-2006) received a huge round of applause as he took to the stage.
The award was presented by the Leader of Rochdale Borough Council, Councillor Colin Lambert, which Dame Pauline Green said was “fitting” for the event. Dame Pauline said: ”[Roberto] has worked all his lifetime to give visibility and profile to the co-operative model. Having Roberto taking our message around the world is the best thing we could have wished for."
Mr Rodrigues thanked everyone for his award and said in Portuguese to his fellow Brazilian co-operators in the audience: “My dear Brazilian friends this prize is for all of us, together, because all I have done my whole life was with you, for you and because of you”.
In English he described how co-operation was central to his life and said the co-operative movement must make the most of the International Year of Co-operatives.
Mr Rodrigues explained that although he had little knowledge of co-ops when he started his career, he soon came to learn the “almost magical-power of co-ops”. He mentioned how throughout his career he visited 81 countries and learned about the strength of co-operation. He also pointed out there is a worldwide lack of international leaders capable of defining global directions.
Added Mr Rodrigues: ”It’s time for a movement of great expression to take the lead-with human beings at the centre of attention. This movement can only be the co-operative movement.”
He emphasised that 2012 is not an arrival point but a departure point, adding that the next stage for the Co-operative Movement was the Nobel Peace Prize. Mr Rodrigues ended his acceptance speech in an artistic way, by singing John Lennon’s lyrics “I am a dreamer, but I am not the only one.”
Photo: Roberto Rodrigues (centre) receives the Award from Cllr. Colin Lambert and Dame Pauline Green.