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Message from ICA Director-General

“In less than five months, I will be travelling to Seoul, Republic of Korea, for the 33rd World Cooperative Congress. For the first time, our Congress will be a hybrid event—the cooperative movement will come together in person, or online from their home countries, from 1-3 December. This promises to be an exciting time for all of us, as the Congress will be accessible to many more people than ever before.”

ILO’s Guy Ryder talks cooperatives ahead of Congress

ILO Director-General Guy Ryder took the time to share with us his vision for continued partnerships between ILO and the cooperative movement leading up to Congress. He also extended the call for stronger collaboration in 2022, starting with the 110th International Labor Conference, where cooperatives and the social solidarity economy will play leading roles, signalling a global recognition of their value within the world of work.


Nine more names from eight countries have been announced for the ICA World Cooperative Congress in December. The global hybrid event, which will be held online and in Seoul, Republic of Korea, will feature cooperative professionals, specialists and activists, who will take part in sessions on ‘Examining’, ‘Strengthening’, ‘Committing to’ and ‘Living’ our Cooperative Identity.


As the countdown to Congress continues, the line up of speakers and facilitators is growing! Cooperators from different countries and different sectors will join together on the 3-day Congress platform to explore the idea of Deepening the Cooperative Identity. Who has been confirmed recently?

Cooperative research leading up to Congress: A conversation with Sonja Novkovic

“It is increasingly clear that the cooperative identity and the structure of cooperative enterprises are relevant, unique, and identifiable. A cooperative can be different things to different people, but the ICA’s Statement of Cooperative Identity unifies a diverse group of cooperative enterprises within a very diverse movement and helps distinguish cooperative enterprises from other enterprises.”


What is in the programme? Where can I find out more?

The final details of the programme are being confirmed, but there is lots of information on the website ready to explore! Here you can find out more about the World Cooperative Congress – including speakers and the main themes of the event, as well as news and updates about the event.


All ICA members, ICA bodies, academic institutions and other organisations linked to the cooperative movement and who care about the cooperative business model are encouraged to host events or initiatives under the banner “Towards the World Cooperative Congress” as we move to prepare for the 33rd ICA World Cooperative Congress. Focusing on the Cooperative Identity, this event will be convened in Seoul, Republic of Korea in December 2021. These events can start as early as you choose and must be held at the latest by November 19, 2021. These can include (but are not limited to) webinars, in person/hybrid workshops, etc. It’s up to you!

The central illustration - it displays the topics of their conversation. Including the Coop logo, a plus sign and a globe.

Cooperative identity by the numbers

Over the last year the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) asked cooperative researchers and practitioners around the world to submit ideas for panels and discussions on the cooperative identity for the ICA Cooperative Research Conference and the 3rd International Forum on Cooperative Law (28-30 November 2021 in Seoul, the Republic of Korea).

A total of 225 proposals were received from around 50 countries; signaling the importance to have meaningful conversations in 2021 about what it means to be a cooperative.

The Cooperative model is the path to rebuilding and strengthening our future

An interview with Sung-hee Lee, chairman of the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation and president of the International Cooperative Association.

The National Agricultural Cooperative Federation (NACF, or NongHyup) in Korea, is one of the co-organisers of the World Cooperative Congress. Established in 1961, it is the apex organisation for the 1,118 multifunctional cooperatives, representing over 2 million member farmers in Korea. We spoke with Sung-hee Lee, chairman of the NACF and president of the International Cooperative Agricultural Organisation (ICAO, a sectoral body of the ICA) to hear his thoughts on what the Congress means to the country, and what the cooperative identity means to Korean cooperators.

It’s Now and Forever: Engaging the Youth in Deepening our Cooperative Identity

Key lessons on leadership from the 25 Voices initiative were presented at last month’s Global Youth Forum, hosted online by #Coops4Dev. The initiative was launched in early 2021 to promote the World Cooperative Congress. Three members of 25 Voices formed the “It’s Now and Forever” panel and called for “cross-generational and inclusive” leadership and urged the cooperative movement to remove barriers between younger and older members.

How are cooperatives in the Asia-Pacific region living their co-operative identity?

Balu Iyer
Regional Director
ICA Asia and Pacific

COVID-19 has highlighted the perils of valuing short-term gains over longer-term viability. This has accentuated the pitfalls of relying on market-oriented models which increase inequality and translate into lower levels of ‘social capital’ and wellbeing. It has also brought to the fore the importance of the ‘real’ economy (which generates goods and services) and the role of cooperatives within this.

Mothers of the sea

Located just off the southern shores of the Republic of Korea, Jeju Island is home to over 3,000 female divers, or Haenyeo, who dive 10 meters under the sea without any breathing equipment. Today, there are 3,613 Haenyeo, and they share their harvests equitably with each other. They are all members of fishing cooperatives on the island, represented by the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperatives, which has 154, 870 members nationwide.

Message from ICA Director General

On behalf of the International Cooperative Alliance, I would like to re-affirm my commitment that ICA will be hosting the 33rd World Cooperative Congress in Seoul, Republic of Korea, from December 1-3, 2021. My team is in the process of planning an exciting programme that will be held in person as well as online.

Cooperatives offer solidarity and support to the Fairtrade movement

Global sales of Fairtrade products in supermarkets have grown steadily during the pandemic but non-grocery sales have slumped, according to Michael Gidney, CEO of the Fairtrade Foundation. Before the pandemic, sales of Fairtrade products had increased to approximately US$9.8 bn in 2019 and, while last year’s figures are still being calculated, the Foundation believes overall sales will not be down as much as they feared.

Message from the ICA President

The global COVID-19 pandemic has radically changed all our lives, causing a healthcare, economic and social crisis which has plunged the world into the deepest recession since the Second World War. The pandemic has also accentuated many of the other great global challenges that we still face including climate change, inequality and poverty.