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The cooperative identity unites us to work for the common good. Our values and principles give millions of people control of their own lives, their future, and serve as the strong foundation that sets cooperatives apart from other types of enterprises. How can our business model continue to be relevant in addressing today’s global challenges?


World Cooperative Congress Sessions

Plenary Session 1: Examining our Cooperative Identity

The cooperative identity unites us to work for the common good. Our values and principles give millions of people control of their own lives, their future, and serve as the strong foundation that sets cooperatives apart from other types of enterprises. How can our business model continue to be relevant in addressing today’s global challenges?

Parallel Session 1.1: Through a Strong Cooperative Brand

Good brand management has been shown to support business growth. Emphasizing the advantages of cooperative values ​​helps to build loyalty and increase the number of members. Highlighting cooperative identity characteristics that resonate with the public—like commitment to members rather than shareholders can give cooperatives a competitive edge. What is the best way to do this? What are the best examples? And how do we measure the impact of the changes made?

Parallel Session 1.2: Through Inclusive Governance

Participation and inclusion of cultural and gender diversity are fundamental for a sound cooperative governance, and they are at the heart of our cooperative identity. To keep these characteristics alive, we must continuously question ourselves: Are we inclusive enough? What can we do to keep the cooperative identity appealing to everyone? How do we make sure our governance practices are inclusive and welcoming to all?

Parallel Session 1.3: Through Educational Opportunities

Cooperative Principle #5 provides cooperatives with the basis to prioritise education, training and information for all. It’s necessary to make cooperative curricula commonly and readily available at all levels of educational institutions, from elementary and secondary schools to college and university degree programs. What are the best practices? What have we learned from them? How can they be disseminated faster?

Parallel Session 1.4: Through Cooperative Cultural Heritage

In 2016, UNESCO, via the German cooperative movement, recognized cooperatives as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. UNESCO’s decision is an important acknowledgment of the dedication shown by millions of people working in cooperatives all over the world.  What is the implication of this honour? How can we promote it to strengthen the pride in cooperative identity worldwide?

Parallel Session 1.5: Through Government Partnerships

Many cooperatives have been established through grassroots campaigns. Others have been created and supported by the government as part of a developing country’s economic strategy. It has been shown that this approach can be effective for the creation of cooperatives in developing countries, especially in rural and marginalized communities. What lessons can be learned from this approach? How do we encourage more governments to consider this approach as part of their strategy for sustainable economic growth?