From the 21st until the 23rd of August, a number of studies and insights elaborated under the ICA – EU partnership (#coops4dev?) were presented at the ICA-CCR European Research Conference 2019 in Berlin, Germany. For three days, this event brought together the most renowned researchers of cooperative studies, who discussed the role of cooperative organisations in ongoing transformations. Four members of the #coops4dev? team had the opportunity to present their latest pieces of work and to attend enriching sessions.
How cooperatives are agents of transformation?
This year’s theme was ‘Cooperatives and the Transformation of Business and Society’ and aimed at examining the role of cooperative organizations in ongoing transformations, through more than 40 different events, forums, panel sessions, parallel sessions and podiums. Over 160 researchers from various academic disciplines, including young scholars, attended the conference.
The main topics discussed included the role of organizations based on voluntary membership, economic cooperation and democratic rule in key areas such as business transformation, sustainable resource management, the democratization of service infrastructures, or civil society activation. The impact of cooperatives as contributors to the Sustainable Development Goals was a recurring theme of discussion.
Conference participants also discussed and presented on how cooperatives manage changes as well as how cooperatives influence the speed by which members and communities are affected by change. Across societal and organizational levels, participants discussed the role of cooperative networks and associations as potential knowledge brokers and co-designers of the process of transformation.
A showcase of #coops4dev?’s latest work
The conference was attended by members of #coops4dev? staff including Arielle Romenteau, Research Coordinator (Cooperatives Europe), Jeffrey Moxom, Research Officer (ICA), Santosh Kumar, Legislation Coordinator (ICA) and Hyungsik Eum, Strategy and Statistics Coordinator (ICA).
On Wednesday 21st August, Jeffrey Moxom and Arielle Romenteau presented Cooperatives Europe’s latest publication within the #coops4dev?programme ‘Cooperatives and Peace: a Case Study Approach’. The research demonstrates the important role cooperatives can play in peacebuilding and conflict resolution. It was supported by Cooperatives Europe’s Development (CEDP) platform and showcases twenty case studies from more than fourteen countries, covering different types and stages of conflicts.
The following day, during the Cooperative Law Forum, the research team also presented the state of play on the ongoing #coops4dev? Legal Framework Analysis, a global member-centered research on cooperative law implemented by all ICA regions. It aims to produce clear tools for advocacy, knowledge building and networking activities, and to advocate for an enabling environment that is beneficial to cooperatives.
The law forum was chaired by Prof. Hagen Henrÿ, chair of the ICA Cooperative Law Committee and witnessed Santosh Kumar present his paper on 'Cooperatives Laws and Policies: The Indian Experience & Unmet Challenges'. The law forum concluded by suggesting that a greater reflection of the ICA values and principles are needed in cooperative legislation and policy, and in promotion of cooperative law in general.
On Friday 23rd, PhD student of Laval University (Canada) Louis Cousin gave a presentation on the potential of cooperatives in the digital era, highlighting previous research of Cooperatives Europe on collaborative economy.
Finally, at the end of the conference, the second episode of our podcast ‘Further Together’ was recorded. The guests for this edition included Prof. Hagen Henry of the University of Helsinki in Finland; Arielle Romenteau of Cooperatives Europe and Dr. Sonja Novkovic, of the Sobey School of Business of Saint Mary’s University in Canada and chair of the ICA Committee on Cooperative Research (ICA-CCR). It was moderated by Santosh Kumar and Jeffrey Moxom. The conversation focused on the value of cooperative research in legislation and development, ongoing work and trends within these fields, as well as reflections on the outcomes of the conference and future ICA-CCR activities. To listen to our podcasts you can dial the cooperative platform Resonate here or find it on the audio streaming platforms of your choice.
The ICA-CCR European board declared that the next annual conference will take place in Athens, Greece in July 2020.