Researchers and industry leaders from around the Asia Pacific will get together in Newcastle this week to discuss how co-operatives and mutuals can work together to achieve a flourishing and sustainable future in our region.

The conference will consider a range of topics – including the role of co-operatives in the sharing economy, platform co-operatives as an alternative to mainstream platforms like Uber and Airbnb, co-operative contributions to regional development, and co-operative solutions to today’s problems including: waste recycling, community renewable energy, sustainable food production and poverty reduction.

Hosted by the University of Newcastle at the New Space campus, the 14th International Co-Operative Alliance (ICA) Asia-Pacific Research Conference will facilitate cooperation among co-operatives and mutuals in the Asia Pacific region. Newcastle is co-hosting the conference with International Cooperative Alliance (Asia-Pacific). The ICA is committed to pursuing the Sustainable Development Goals worldwide. The ICA website notes that ‘more than 12% of humanity is part of any of the 3 million co-operatives in the world’. Yet there is a general lack of awareness about this business model. The University of Newcastle provides the only postgraduate degree in co-operative management and organization in Australia.

Guest speakers at the conference include:

  • David Davies, CEO and founder of AgUnity, who will be sharing insights on using agtech solutions to help farmers and small holder co-operatives establish ethical and accountable means of trade.
  • Tony Cade, CEO at HunterNet co-operative, will talk about Newcastle’s own co-operative success story HunterNet is internationally renowned as an innovative model supporting small manufacturing businesses gain significant local, national and international business contracts.
  • Greg McNamara, Chairman of Norco Dairy Co-operative Ltd will explain how the co-operative dairy processor is supporting their dairy farmer members through one of the worst drought and bushfire periods.
  • The conference will also host industry speakers from India, including Mr. Sethumadhavan, Director of Uralungal Labor Contract Co-operative Society (ULCCS) Kerala, India’s oldest worker co-operative with than 3500 employees and positively impacting on poverty alleviation and education.

 The conference will be held from Thursday December 12th to Saturday December 14th at NewSpace (Levels 1 and 2).

Melina Morrison, CEO BCCM will deliver the opening keynote address.

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