Mondiacult 2022 side-event | Q&A with Stefania Marcone

21 Sep 2022

Ahead of the ICA’s 2022 Mondiacult 2022 Side event – “Cooperatives are Key Stakeholders in advancing SDGs through Culture and the Creative Sector” – we spoke with some of those taking part to hear their views on cooperative enterprise, culture and sustainable development.

Stefania Marcone is a member of Legacoop National Commission for Equal Opportunities and the Italian Alliance Commission on Women and Equality. She was appointed in 2012 to serve on the UN Committee for the International Year of Cooperatives, and is the former Vice President of Cooperatives Europe, chair of the Gender Equality Working Group, and has also served on the ICA’s Gender Equality Committee. 

How do you see the relationship between cooperative enterprise, culture and sustainable development?

I think that cooperatives, culture and sustainable development are very interconnected. Culture, in its broadest sense, is a driver to attaining the Agenda 2030; it represents a transversal dimension of sustainability and is fundamental to meeting the challenges ahead of us. Moreover, culture builds bridges, contributes to inclusive social development, and promotes dialogue and understanding among people, mutual respect and peace. It empowers people. 

In turn, cooperatives, as enterprises focused on people and set up to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs are, by their nature, critical actors of sustainable development and agents of cultural promotion and empowerment. This has been acknowledged by several National, European and International Institutions. There are several examples around the world of cooperatives active in the cultural and creative sectors.

So from cooperative culture and education to cultural heritage safeguarding, it is clear that cooperatives have a pivotal role in this area, and can bring strong contributions to the issues under debate in the UNESCO Mondialcult 2022 Conference.

Why do you think it is important to preserve the culture of cooperation as an intangible cultural heritage? 

I am deeply convinced that the culture of cooperation should be not only preserved but enhanced as a tangible/intangible cultural heritage. The everyday living of cooperative values and principles; the very nature of a cooperative business and its unique features; the worldwide grass-rooted cooperative experiences, across manifold cultures and sectors; the role of cooperatives as education entities and schools of democracy. These are just some of the reasons why I believe that now, as never before, there is a need to preserve and promote the culture of cooperation.

What activities does your own cooperative do in this area? 

In Italy, there is a consolidated experience of cooperatives active in the cultural and creative sectors. The Italian Alliance of Cultural Cooperatives represents over 600 cooperatives, with 10,000 employees and 24,000 members. These cooperatives cover a wide range of activities, including entertainment, music, theatre, publishing, art and design, the management of cultural and archaeological sites, museums, and restoration and preservation. The Association supports the member cooperatives with activities such as advocacy, training, programmes and projects, financial services, the promotion of cooperatives start-ups and more.

What do you hope to get out of the Mondiacult side event?

The ICA Mondialcult side-event will be an excellent occasion to contribute, through concrete examples of cooperatives and organizations active in the cultural and creative sectors, to identify new policies, for industries greatly affected by the pandemic. It will also be an opportunity to give cultural and creative cooperators a voice at a global level and increase the visibility of cooperatives active in these fields. The event will showcase some of the impressive results and impacts, and the innovative sustainable approaches being taken around the world in the area of safeguarding tangible and intangible cultural heritage, creating job opportunities for thousands of women and men, youth and senior citizens, and workers and professionals in the cultural and creative sector. My hope is that the Mondialcult side-event will also further strengthen the global collaboration between ICA and UNESCO.

As part of this series, you can also read interviews with Christine Merkel (UNESCO), Caroline Woolard ( and Fabíola da Silva Nader Motta (Organization of Brazilian Cooperatives (OCB)).

The ICA Mondiacult side-event takes place on: 26 September 13-17h (CEST)

The full programme for the side-event is available here.

Find the profile of speakers here.

Online participation is free - register here to join the webinar.

For additional information, visit the event website.