04 Dec 2018
"One billion people across the world are part of our movement. The International Cooperative Alliance needs to be their guiding light. The global landscape is calling for us to come out on to the playing field wearing our cooperative t-shirts".
These were the opening words of the Argentinian leader's mandate when he was voted in by the ICA General Assembly last year with 671 votes out of 691. The ICA Board was also reorganised at the same time. Guarco took his post on 17 November 2017 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
In the twelve months since, with the consensus of the Board, the president has headed a reorganisation of the running of ICA offices: over the course of several weeks, he had meetings with staff and the new Director General Bruno Roelants who took his post in April 2018.
He also visited more than 20 countries and cemented the commitments of the cooperative movement with the United Nations 2030 Agenda. In line with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 17, establishing the need for a global alliance for sustainable development, Guarco made links with other bodies with a planetary-scale impact, such as the UN, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
Internally, at the start of 2018, an in-depth survey of members was undertaken. From the responses it was possible to obtain a clear diagnosis of members' issues and requirements, laying the foundations on which to base a ten-year strategy.
These and other matters were discussed in board meetings in Brussels, Belgium (17 to 19 January); Paris, France (9 and 10 April); Birmingham, United States (16 to 19 June); and Buenos Aires, Argentina (21 October). The final meeting saw the launch of the International Cooperative Entrepreneurship Think Tank (ICETT), a strategic centre with the remit to strengthen business development among cooperatives.
Within days of International Cooperatives Day, 5 July, the president attended activities at the United Nations headquarters. He also published a message "to show the world that it is possible to grow with democracy, equality, and social justice; that our societies cannot keep squandering resources and excluding people; that we must improve the present to secure a future for coming generations; and that we are proud to be part of this movement".
Over the course of his first year in term, Guarco has also taken part in activities in Nepal, India, Germany, the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Denmark, the US, Brazil, El Salvador, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Jamaica, Uruguay, Paraguay, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Bolivia, among others.
"A different global economy is possible. An economy created and built from the territories. We can offer our business model to do it, where we democratically - as workers, consumers, savers, and producers from every territory - organise ourselves to respond to the needs of our communities. A different global economy is possible if we focus our efforts on local sustainable development" he said in the closing speech of the 5th Cooperative Summit of the Americas in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on 26 October.
In the past year, the number of ICA members has increased from 306 to 313 members. With these members, the organisation has a presence in 110 countries across 5 continents. "All this potential gives us an idea of the magnitude and responsibility we, as a global movement, have in facing up to the greatest challenges humanity is experiencing today", stressed Guarco.