The global cooperative movement met in Seville on 19-21 June for the ICA General Assembly, which included side events organised by the Spanish confederation of worker cooperatives operatives (COCETA) under the theme “Cooperatives, the time is now!”
The opening session featured Seville’s Mayor, Antonio Muñoz, who stressed that solidarity was "in the DNA of cooperatives" because they were created to distribute their income in an equitable manner using a community-based model praised cooperatives for generating quality employment and supporting vulnerable groups, and pledged his support for the sector as a means to diversify the local economy.
Yolanda Díaz, second Deputy Prime Minister and Labour and Social Economy Minister in the national government, sent a recorded message to delegates, praising the "enormous transformative force" of cooperatives and their "fundamental" contribution to reducing inequalities, providing decent work and caring for the environment.
She also mentioned some of the actions taken by her government to promote the sector, such as updating the National Law of Cooperatives of 1999 to integrate “new expressions of cooperativism” and launching an €808m recovery plan focused on promoting the social economy.
Also addressing the opening session, the President of Cooperatives Europe, Susanne Westhausen, said the cooperative model offers positive change for citizens in times of need, adding that the cooperative values are "solid for business and, in addition, they attract customers”.
For ICA President Ariel Guarco, cooperatives offer a business model "capable of mobilising the power of human fraternity, a model centred on people, that cares for people and that cares for the environment, a model that puts the economy in the hands of the people”. He said he was optimistic because "in the face of the difficulties in creating decent work, cooperatives have very effective models so that the workers themselves create their job opportunities.”
Luis Miguel Jurado, President of COCETA, said he hoped the meeting would "unite cooperators from all over the planet, to work together to make our proposals visible, positioning cooperatives in the face of the challenges and challenges that we already know”. These are global challenges, he added, but will need different responses around the world according to regional circumstances. Andalusia, where the meeting was held, , "has always been at the forefront of cooperativism and the social economy", he said.
Rocío Blanco, acting Minister of Employment,Training and Self-Employment for the Andalucia government, agreed that cooperatives are a priority for the region, which has 4,000 cooperatives, 80% of which are worker co-ops. The sector employs 59,000 people.
In a video message to the conference, Andalusian President, Juan Manuel Moreno, also highlighted the sector’s importance to Andalucía’s economy.
Watch the full recording from 20 June here.
Find all the summaries of the workshops held on 21 June below: