International co-operation

The BCCM at the Québec International Summit of Co-operatives

Day two of the International Summit of Cooperatives in Quebec saw four Australian representatives present on panels, showing the strong engagement of the Australian co-operative sector with the international sector. It is pleasing to see that our co-operative leaders are recognised internationally as thought and sector leaders.

BCCM Chairman and CEO of CBH Group, Dr Andrew Crane, spoke on a panel discussing the question of whether co-operatives can conquer the world, with particular reference to the agricultural sector. Following a report of the need for increased collaboration or partnership between agribusiness co-operatives, Andrew noted the importance of ensuring that the best outcome for member-owners was always front of mind. This was seen as especially important when looking at investment in agricultural infrastructure to ensure the best value supply chain for members.

Blake Wilson, General Manager of the National Health Co-operative, participated on a panel discussing the actual and potential expansion of health and social services provided by co-operatives, and shared the story of the National Health Co-op with an extremely interested audience.

Trent Bartlett, Director of CBH Group, and Brad Gannon, Company Secretary and General Counsel at Capricorn Society spoke on panels discussing how retail co-operatives can remain competitive and lead in a world with Amazon and Alibarber taking over retailing in many sectors.

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BCCM CEO Melina Morrison pictured with Kathy Bardswick, President & CEO of The Co-operators Group and Dame Pauline Green

Other speakers included Yves Morieux of Boston Consulting Group, who told us that co-operation increases efficiency and greatly decreases wasted resources, and encouraged attendees to harness the power of co-operation we already have available to us.

Robert Reich encouraged us to see co-operatives as the business model of the future, and fight for a fair and equitable society through our business model. Reich explained that he is a class ‘worrier’ rather than a class warrior, with concerns about the growing inequality seen across society.

Finally, Navi Radjou spoke to us about the importance of frugal innovation, ensuring that everyone has access to enough, and the importance of recognizing that having too much won’t increase overall satisfaction and will have negative consequences on those around us. Navi called on the sector to promote the cooperative ethos to ensure that everyone works together.

Day 1

The BCCM is currently in Québec attending the International Summit of Co-operatives and we are extremely lucky to be here, amongst nearly three thousand enthusiastic co-operators from around the world.

Things kicked off early on Sunday, with a pre-summit activity facilitated by BCCM CEO Melina Morrison, discussing the importance of country-level apex bodies and the ways in which these organisations can be more effective and efficient in their promotion of the co-operative model. Melina was joined on stage by Andrew Crane, CEO CBH Group and BCCM Chair, and with representatives from Canada, France, UK and Portugal.

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Panellists discussing the role of country-level apex bodies on Sunday, 9 October, Québec

Panellists discussed their experiences promoting the co-operative and mutual sector in their countries. A key theme of the discussion was the importance of data collection to ensure we can talk accurately about the power of our sector – by turnover, by member numbers, and reach in communities. The BCCM’s National Mutual Economy Report was highlighted as a way to do this, and Melina offered to share any of our IP to assist our international colleagues.

The BCCM is launching our third National Mutual Economy Report at our Summit on 9 November in Canberra.

Following the pre-summit panel, the BCCM welcomed those of the record number of Australian’s attending the Summit, along with a number if ICA Board Members and other international colleagues for a ‘meet the Australians’ event. ICA President Monique Leroux spoke about her enjoyment of her trip to Australia earlier in 2016, and noted how impressed she is with the enthusiasm, energy, and progress of the Australian co-operative and mutual sector.

On Monday, BCCM representatives attended pre-summit activities discussing the ways co-operatives can collaborate to ensure targeted and successful international development. We participated in a Hackathon, attended the Young Leaders’ networking event, and the formal Summit opening. BCCM CEO Melina Morrison then attended a dinner with ICMIF, the International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation, at which they launched their updated global reputation survey.

The opening sessions of the Summit on Tuesday have been fantastic, with attendees hearing from eminent speakers such as Nobel Prize Winner Joseph Stiglitz, Mark Kramer, and Jeremy Rifkin amongst others. A strong theme throughout these discussions has been the opportunities for co-operatives to push towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. All speakers agreed that these goals are within the DNA of co-operative businesses, and that the future is bright for our business model. Jeremy Rifkin mad the point that the sharing economy is, at its heart, a co-operative economy, and encouraged leaders to work together to galvanise our combined 1 billion global members to take back this sharing economy and move it away from the extractive business model.

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Co-operative leaders sharing their view on how co-ops sit in today’s economy on Tuesday, 11 October

BCCM CEO Melina Morrison spoke on a panel discussing the ‘real’ economy, and the ways in which co-operatives can drive the businesses of the future. Melina’s statement that co-operatives are like a ‘Ninja’ economy, a powerhouse hiding in plain sight, received a great response, and the call to action to bring them into the light was taken up by her panel.

Other panels included a discussion about women’s leadership in the economy, detailing the importance of taking initiative in ensuring women are developed for leadership positions in all democratic organisations.

The Summit runs until the Thursday and the BCCM will be providing with more updates during the week.

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