From 28-30 November 2021, just before the start of the 33rd World Co-operative Congress, two major events were held: the Research Congress on Co-operatives and the 3rd International Forum on Co-operative Law. Delegates met in Seoul and online. Their work fed into the 33rd World Co-operative Congress debates on Co-operative Identity.
ICA Research Congress on Co-operatives
190 papers were received for the Research Congress, of which 80 papers were selected for presentation in Seoul. There were 50 in-person and 100 online participants, a turnout that ICA Cooperative Research Committee Chair, Sonja Novkovic, described as “remarkable”.
Novkovic presented the key findings of each session, along with four young students who participated as informative panellists during the conference. The young people shared their ideas regarding four key areas: co-operative identity, co-operative innovation and entrepreneurship, global co-operative engagement and co-operative identity and the SDGs.
The Congress also saw the presentation of the work carried out by CIRIEC for the United Nations Task Force on the Social and Solidarity Economy (UNTFSSE) on statistics on cooperatives and the social economy. The project aims at transferring knowledge on sound methodologies and high quality approaches to data collection, analysis and interpretation of SSE statistics.
In her conclusion, Sonja Novkovic conveyed a “clear call for leadership of the cooperative sector”, especially in meeting the SDGs, including environmental, social and governance factors. She stressed the need for cooperatives to be “critical where necessary” and to show leadership in this area, in order to influence global efforts on what really matters.
Novkovic concluded by calling for the creation of a forum for cooperatives to exchange experiences on climate change and the performance of cooperatives, a forum in which she hopes to be able to count on the participation of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD).
Abstracts of the papers discussed at the Research Congress will be published online and some of the participants will be asked to submit their papers for publication in the Review of International Co-operation.
3rd International Forum on Co-operative Law
Hagen Henry, Chair of the ICA Committee on Co-operative Law, summed up the 3rd International Forum on Co-operative Law. Henry explained that the conference had mainly revolved around two themes: the relationship between co-operative identity and co-operative law, and the harmonisation of co-operative legislation.
In relation to the first theme, Henry highlighted the importance of the ICA Statement on the Co-operative Identity and explained that co-operatives “that live and put these principles into practice have an influence on whether or not we have emerging public legislation on co-operatives”.
In terms of how to harmonise global co-operative law, Hagen Henry listed five recommendations he had put forward: integrate co-operative law into the reflection on co-operative identity; recognise that the Statement on the Co-operative Identity is truly binding; use the resources of the ICA through its Law Committee and its Director of Legislation, Santosh Kumar; integrate co-operative law into training sessions for lawyers; and overcome the sectoral divisions that can be seen in co-operative law