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ICA-Americas Newsletter REPORT REVEALS THE TEN MOST SUSTAINABLE CO-OPERATIVES The world’s most sustainable co‐ operatives have been ranked by Corpo‐ rate Knights, the same organisation that  publishes the Global 100 report.   (page 8) 

Inside

    The Editor’s Pen  p. 2    Cooperatives as agents  of economic, social and  environmental  sustainability  p. 3    Challenges for cooperatives  in their management of  sustainability in all its  dimensions  p. 6    Report reveals the ten most  sustainable co‐operatives  p. 8    ICA‐Americas promotes  sustainability  through its   products and services  p. 10    Elevating members’  participation and governance  to a new level  p. 12    Cooperative Social Audit:  ICA‐Americas’ tool  to contribute  to sustainability  p. 14     ICA launches website for  2013 Conference and  General Assembly  p. 15 

ICA LAUNCHES WEBSITE FOR 2013 GENERAL ASSEMBLY South Africa will host the first General  Assembly of the International Coopera‐ tive Alliance in the African continent,  which will be focused on the Blueprint  for a Co‐operative Decade.  (page 15) 

(page 10) 

VISION 2020 

COOPERATIVES AS AGENTS  OF ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND  ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY  MANUEL MARIÑO: PARTICIPATION AND  GOVERNANCE: ONE OF THE AXES TO  DEBATE AND TAKE ACTION IN THE  COMING YEARS  (page 12) 

CERTIFICATION IN COOPERATIVE SOCIAL AUDIT: A STRATEGY FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT For the first time a Mexican cooperative ‐ Federación Alianza‐ has applied the So‐ cial Audit using the official tool of ICA‐ Americas.  (page 14) 

ICA-AMERICAS PROMOTES SUSTAINABILITY THROUGH ITS PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

ICA-Americas Newsletter is an e-publication of the International Co-operative Alliance for the Americas

communications@aciamericas.coop Phone: + (506) 2296 0981 Fax: + (506) 2231 5842 PO BOX: 6648 -1000

Issue Nº 17 // May 2013

ALEXANDER VARGAS: CHALLENGES  FOR COOPERATIVES IN THEIR  MANAGEMENT OF SUSTAINABILITY  IN ALL ITS DIMENSIONS  (page 6) 


{ The Editor’s Pen } Building a Possible Better Word "“Cooperative Enterprises Build a Better World” stated the 2012 International Year of Cooperatives. That slogan is, at the same time, reality and challenge because it is not only important to be that kind of enterprise but also to be able to show it to the public.

Manuel Mariño ICA Americas Regional Director

We are at the dawn of what we have called “Blueprint for a Cooperative Decade”. The Blueprint strategy comprises five interconnected themes: participation, sustainability, identity, legal frameworks and capital. It is a plan for the global co -operative movement spanning the decade we are in. It aims to: 1. Elevate participation within membership and governance to a new level. 2. Position co-operatives as builders of sustainability. 3. Build the co-operative message and secure the co-operative identity. 4. Ensure supportive legal frameworks for co-operative growth. 5. Secure reliable co-operative capital while guaranteeing member control. We aim at generating a debate about these themes through our ICA-Americas Newsletter. In order to do that, we invited specialist in these fields, not necessarily from the co-op movement, to help us think together the best way to put the challenge we are facing into practice. It is about finding different paths towards the achievement of the stated goals through an adequate action plan possible in the context we live in. This issue focuses on two of the core focuses established in the Vision 2020: governance and participation and cooperatives as builders of economic, social and environmental sustainability. I’m convinced about the fact that, it is mostly about remaining people-centered in order to cater for their needs. It’s time to change and the cooperative movement can be an important agent of the necessary changes. The contribution of cooperatives is fundamental to design a new economic and social cycle, both necessary and possible.

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INTEGRaciON COOPERATIVA // Número 11 // Mayo 2013

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VISION 2020

COOPERATIVES AS AGENTS OF ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY The Blueprint for a cooperative Decade defines in a very simple way the relationship between cooperatives and sustainability. “A co-operative is a collective pursuit of sustainability”. This is, and must be, true since the cooperative principles and values which have guided the cooperative work for more than 150 years are in perfect harmony with the current demand for a more sustainable development paradigm. Cooperatives have been aware of this for a very long time. It is time they started to be acknowledged as “sustainability agents” worldwide. A sustainable development model implies the efficient use of the economic, social and environmental resources to meet the needs of the present without compromising the future generations to meet their own needs. The dominant model of capitalism has neglected sustainable development and has led a large proportion of the world to a scenario of economic, financial, employment and environmental crisis. If the traditional enterprise has been unsustainable so far, how can we entrust it our future? Gianluca Salvatori from the European Research Institute on Coop-

eratives and Social Enterprises, in a recent work entitled “Cooperative Economy: An innovative Approach to Sustainability” said: “An approach to economics willing to address the critical issues that we will have to face in the upcoming years – population growth, scarcity of natural resources, new urban migration, redistribution of income and social inclusion – cannot disregard cooperatives, as a part of a new vision of economic and social development”. According to Salvatori: “In order to seize this opportunity, the agents involved in the cooperative economy should be innovative and develop their model in a nondogmatic way, enhancing the adaptability of this organizational form and the ability to manage their diversity. Cooperative enterprises, indeed, reflect the belief that human actions are not driven only by the pursuit of self-interest, but by a variety of motivating forces, amongst them the sense of reciprocity and the search for justice and fairness”. Sustainability as an axis of the Blueprint for a Cooperative Decade The ambitious plan in the Blueprint for a Cooperative Decade the “2020 Vision” -is for the coop-

erative form of business by 2020 to become: ■

The acknowledged leader in economic, social and environmental sustainability

The model preferred by people

The fastest growing form of enterprise

The document states that: “Cooperatives have always set out to enable people to have access to goods and services without exploitation. This has meant trading in accordance with a set of values based on what we would today call sustainability (…) The goal to position co-operatives as builders of sustainability should include establishing a wide public understanding of the business sustainability of cooperatives as businesses. There are continuing tensions within any business between economic, social and environmental interests, but through seeking to satisfy the needs of ordinary citizens, cooperatives tend to pursue a convergence between these interests. This results in greater organisational sustainability”. At present sustainability is not a term that is universally associated with cooperatives. This is what needs to change by 2020 – to position cooperatives as builders of sustainability. The cooperative

INTEGRaciON COOPERATIVA // Número 9 // Setiembre 2012

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sector needs to demonstrate convincingly that sustainability is in the intrinsic nature of cooperatives, and that these enterprises make a positive contribution to sustainability. In 2012, the World Cooperative Monitor showed that despite the crisis cooperatives have grown all over the world. The top 300 cooperative and mutual enterprises accounted for USD 1,975.6 billion (USD 2.0 trillion) in turnover of which USD 158,7 billion is derived from the banking and finan-

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cial services sector and USD 977,2 billion from the insurance sector. "At a time when the world is at risk of falling back into recession, this new data provides a great message for the general public: there is a way to pursue sustainable business and at scale," said Charles Gould, ICA DirectorGeneral. Also, a study carried out last year by the ICA-Americas and the International Labour Organization (ILO): El cooperativismo en América Latina: Una diversidad

de contribuciones al desarrollo sostenible (Cooperatives in Latin America: a diversity of contributions to sustainable development), shows how cooperatives contribute to sustainable development in this diverse part of the world. The study highlights that cooperatives have help alleviate poverty in various countries in the region. “Cooperatives have a long history and are part of the present of Latin America, generating income for their members, employment and contributing to economic and so-

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cial development in every country” said Alberto Mora, one of the authors of the book.

Co-operatives act in the interests of their members, not shareholders.

The contribution of cooperatives to sustainability has also been acknowledged in important international forums. 2012 was a milestone for cooperatives in this regard, when the final declaration of the United Nations Conference of Sustainable Development Rio+20 included a strong affirmation on the importance of cooperatives to the development of agriculture, work, social development and poverty alleviation.

They do not suffer from the problem of ‘financialisation’ that has afflicted capitalism over the past twenty years, in which financial performance is the central indicator of good business.

It is important to highlight how cooperatives make a positive contribution to sustainability in three senses:

There is considerable evidence that a diversity of ownership forms contributes to a more stable financial sector as a whole.

The study of ‘social capital’ suggests that societies with higher levels of membership associations also do better economically, in addition to enjoying higher levels of trust and democratic participation. Co-operatives aren’t simply market operators, but also deliver services that would other-

Membership and association are goods in and of themselves, while also acting as important resources on which successful societies –and economies– thrive.

Environmental: ■

Co-operatives have a superior environmental record.

As participatory organisations, concerns about future environmental outcomes can simply be voiced democratically by members, without needing to be calculated in terms of return on investment.

Where co-operatives are multistakeholder, the capacity for businesses to push negative environmental externalities (i.e. waste and pollution) upon particular stakeholders is diminished.

Social:

Economic: ■

By their nature and form of ownership, they are less likely to reduce the quality of products or services in the pursuit of profit.

wise come from private insurance or the state.

HOW CAN COOPERATIVES BE POSITIONED AS THE ACKNOWLEDGED LEADERS OF SUSTAINABILITY? The Blueprint for a Cooperative Decade says that to strengthen sustainability cooperatives should commit themselves to measuring their non-financial performance via different tools as well as by means of social audits. Also, it points out that although cooperatives are making a great contribution to lower carbon consumption, this effort should be recorded, analysed and highlighted. In terms of innovation the cooperative sector should aim to become leaders in the development and use of technologies and social systems which specifically deliver human benefits, without despoiling the ecosystem. The co-operative sector needs to do more to develop and promote distinctive management practices which reflect the democratic values and long term horizon of the co-operative business model, and which will fully exploit the potential cooperative advantage. Finally, the cooperative sector should identify and remove barriers to inter-co-operation, including, where possible, integrating systems, such as procurement, using the principle of subsidiarity.

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CHALLENGES FOR COOPERATIVES IN THEIR MANAGEMENT OF SUSTAINABILITY IN ALL ITS DIMENSIONS By Alexander Vargas Cultures and Development in Central America (CUDECA)

Cooperatives are the kind of organizations which have social responsibility, sustainable production and values “in their genes”. They have had these qualities long before these concepts were turned into marketing tools.

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sustainability. However, it is not always the case.

However, the cooperative universe offers various possibilities, dimensions and areas in which cooperatives work, and the particular context in every country has its own identity. Even every cooperative sector has its own character.

The productive context has always been very fast and nowadays this is even more noticeable due to the diversification of markets, segments and niches, which open up a myriad of new possibilities but also risks. The productive sectors modify the way they work forming clusters, networks, chambers, cross -border associations and international agreements, leading the way business are done.

In philosophical aspects cooperatives can be considered the business model which aims at greater

At the same time, there is a need to strengthen local economies with support to micro, small and me-

dium enterprises. It is a very dynamic scenario where all the productive sectors play a role as well as political and economic stakeholders. From the experience of cooperatives in the agricultural and agro industrial sector, thinking of increasing the capacity of cooperatives to generate results in terms of sustainability would mean facing the following basic challenges: Being sustainable themselves: Cooperatives need to be sustainable themselves in an integral way, but particularly in their responsibility of being profitable not only

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Cooperatives need to be sustainable themselves in an integral way, but particularly in their responsibility of being profitable not only in financial terms, but also in terms of complying with the responsibilities brought about by the cooperative principles.

” in financial terms, but also in terms of complying with the responsibilities brought about by the cooperative principles. There are cooperatives that hardly keep their financial balance and others which need financing via donors. Overcoming generational renovation: Most cooperatives in the agricultural sector are run by the founding generations. They do not integrate the younger generations and in this way the social base that legitimates a cooperative is lost. Strengthening cooperative identity: Cooperatives have their origin

in the pursuit of solutions for collective problems. However, there have been experiences in which the group caters for individual needs instead of collective ones. An example of this is when cooperatives have turned into collection or storage and distribution centres, where they collect the production of their members and pay them for it. In this example the cooperative sense disappears. Development of a business vision for technological change: This refers to changes in the know-how, both in the productive stages as well as in development activities such as education, health and infrastructure. Investment in the areas which arise from the cooperative principles: education, health, infrastructure, equity and justice. Cooperation among cooperatives: There are cooperative subsectors that generate surplus which can be used as local support resources for cooperative sectors that could be developed but have been left behind. Markets: Cooperatives must understand the different markets that exist nowadays to be able to spot niches where the cooperative sector can advance and contribute to

development. Seeing the cooperative as a whole: It is very noticeable in some cooperatives that the technical, political and managerial units are separated from the grass-roots. However, the grass-roots are also part and parcel of the cooperative. When everyone sees themselves as an integral part of the cooperative, this has a very positive effect particularly in the decision-making process which involves all the participants.

Alexander Vargas Garro is a consultant member of the Capacities, Organization and Sustainability Team of the Costa Rican organization CUDECA-ECOS Cultures and Development Central America. He has ample experience in institutional sustainability and capacity generation with different kinds of stakeholders in all the Centro American region and Mexico. He is a consultant and facilitator of the Model of Managerial Capacities Strengthening for associations and cooperatives involving small scale farming, organic produce, fair trade and sustainable agriculture.

http://www.aciamericas.coop/conferencia2013

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REPORT REVEALS THE TEN MOST SUSTAINABLE CO-OPERATIVES The world’s most sustainable cooperatives have been ranked by Corporate Knights, the same organisation that publishes the Global 100 report. The top ten rankings are based on a more extensive report, which includes the world’s largest 35 co-operatives from Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, United States and Japan and recognises the recognition of the contribution co-operatives have in terms of social and environmental responsibility. Corporate Knights named The Cooperators, a Canadian insurance company, as the world’s most sustainable co-operative, while the UK’s largest mutual business, the Co-operative Group, came second and Desjardins Group, the largest association of credit unions in North America, was ranked third. The criteria used to assess cooperatives were productivity, board gender diversity, resource usage, sustainability mandate and senior level compensation ties to sustainability. Corporate Knights uses the same methodology for its Global 100 report, a corporate sustainability assessment published every year during the World Economic Forum in Davos. Following publication of the results, Corporate Knights said it would like to see more co-ops publishing data on social indicators such as employee turnover. It also called for an increase in dis-

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closure requirements for cooperatives to enable experts to better evaluate co-operatives. Corporate Knights also recognised the ICA's desire to collect this type of social and environmental data on cooperatives through its World Cooperative Monitor. From this month, co-operatives can submit relevant data to the ICA's database through the relaunched WCM survey. THE MOST SUSTAINABLE CO-OPS The Co-operators, serve approximately 375 credit unions with a total of more than five million members. The organisation offers a wide variety of services across Canada, rewarding their customers’ sustainable behaviour. The Co -operators also has a significant percentage of women in leadership positions, either executive management (30 per cent) or the board of Directors (18.2 percent). Kathy Bardswick, President and

CEO of organisation and ICA Board director, said: “Our employees and advisors are to be congratulated for the efforts they have made to help our organisation become more sustainable, and act as a catalyst for sustainability”. “Co-operatives prioritise longterm value creation over shortterm profit maximisation, and take into account a broad range of stakeholder interests in their decision-making. It’s a business model that naturally embeds sustainability principles into its operations” she added. Another leader in terms of sustaina b i l i t y, t h e C o - o p e r a t i v e Group has made positive steps with its renewable energy programmes. The Group powers more than 4,000 outlets powered by renewable energy, and finances the development of many solar energy schemes. The Group is also working with 3,000 schools across the UK to bring sustainability education programmes on the school

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curricula for children between five and 16. It also has a high percentage of women in the Board of Directors (26.3 per cent) and Executive Management (18.2 per cent).

leadership positions, with 26.9 % as Board Directors and 21.4 % in Executive Management roles.

Click here to read the full report on the world's 35 most sustainable co-operatives.

Desjardins Group, Canada’s largest co-operative financial group, offers financial products to lowincome households that would otherwise not be able to afford such financial services. Home insurance packages are offered for any level of income, while small 24-month interest-free loans are available to those in desperate need for access to finance. Desjardins currently has over $831m invested in socially responsible products. The organisation also has a large number of women in

THE WORLD’S MOST SUSTAINABLE CO-OPERATIVES Rank

Company

Country

Industry Group

Score

1

The Co-operators Group Ltd

Canada

Insurance

60.68%

2

The Co-operative Group Ltd

United Kingdom

Food & Staples Retailing

55.76%

3

Desjardins Group

Canada

Banks

53.34%

4

Groupe BPCE

France

Banks

47.07%

5

ReWe Group

Germany

Food & Staples Retailing

37.59%

6

Liverpool Victoria

United Kingdom

Insurance

30.51%

7

Liberty Mutual Insurance

United States

Insurance

30.23%

8

Zen-Noh

Japan

Food Beverage & Tobacco

30.05%

9

John Lewis Partnership PLC

United Kingdom

Food & Staples Retailing

26.98%

10

Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co.

United States

Insurance

24.00%

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ICA-AMERICAS PROMOTES SUSTAINABILITY THROUGH ITS PRODUCTS AND SERVICES Cooperatives, as social and economic enterprises, must decisively take up the challenge of being recognized as sustainability leaders. In this regard, ICAAmericas plays an important role making use of a number of tools to meet this sustainability demands. ICA-Americas Regional Office entrusts its environmental audits to independent third parties who are experts in the field. It also takes measures to compensate and mitigate the environmental impact its work causes. In conjunction with these efforts, a number of services are offered by ICA-Americas in favour of economic, social and environmental sustainability, namely, Good Cooperative Governance, Cooperative Social Audit and Cooperative Green Office. Good Cooperative Governance helps cooperatives self -evaluate the governance of the organization in accordance with

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the cooperative principles and values. Cooperative Social Audit is an important tool to keep membership and other cooperative stakeholders informed about the work done by the organization. Finally, Cooperative Green Office, the Regional Office latest launch, is particularly useful to increase the ecoefficiency of the administrative environment of the organizations. In terms of environmental sustainability the degree of interest and commitment is becoming increasingly higher. For instance, several cooperatives announced ICAAmericas that they have a genuine interest in participating in the training process and certification of the Cooperative Green Office. In order to be walk the talk, ICA Americas Regional Office applied a number of carbon reduction and compensation measures in compliance with its environmental commitment to the 7th Co-operative Principle, including an increase of

electronic communication and the reduction of international trips. In 2011 ICA-Americas was certified by external auditors as a Carbon Neutral organisation and Cooperative Green Office, and in 2012 it has renewed its certification, In Ecuador, the Cooperativa de Ahorro y Crédito Santa Rosa Ltda. (COOPACS) is one of the first organizations which is studying this proposal. Caja Popular Mexicana (CPM) is evaluating ICAAmericas’ proposal for its more than 400 subsidiaries in the country. The Organización de Cooperativas de Brasil (OCB) is analysing how to articulate the Cooperative Green Office with it National Service of Cooperative Learning (SESCOOP) as part of its professional training and as a way of monitoring the cooperatives throughout the country. Likewise, in Colombia, the Promotora Cooperativa de Proyectos Ambientales e Industriales (Ecoop) is designing a

ICA-Americas Newsletter // Issue Nº 17 // May 2013


model to include the Green Office in the list of services they provide to cooperatives. There are other organizations in Argentina, Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama and Uruguay which have already received the basic information for their preliminary studies. And, in every single case, ICAAmericas adopts a flexible approach bearing in mind the national circumstances. It also keeps a basic training and verification methodology to safeguard the legitimacy of Cooperative Green Office. GREEN PACT ICA-Americas also promotes the Cooperative Green Pact, a tool of environmental promotion, approved in the I Cooperative Summit of the Americas (Guadalajara, 2009). Adherence to the Pact is voluntary and free and it is available to all the cooperatives in the Americas which want to make their environmental commitment more visible. The Cooperative Green Pact stimulates cooperatives to take measures to reduce the impact of their actions on the environment. The number of cooperatives which adhere to the Pact has kept growing, because every cooperative that adheres is in charge of promoting and spreading the word about this

initiative in its country. The last four cooperatives which joined the Pact are: Coop-Reciclaje (Dominican Republic), Cooperativa de Trabajo en Seguridad Integral “UFA” Ltda. (Argentina), Co-

operativa Asesoría y Servicios de Sustentabilidad Ambiental (Mexico) y Cooperativa el Buen Samaritano (Bolivia). Again, ICAAmericas calls all cooperatives to adhere to this Pact.

WHAT?

OFICINA COOPERATIVA VERDE

PACTO VERDE COOPERATIVO

WHAT FOR?

Eco-efficiency in the administrative environment

Visibility and interchange in environmental commitment

HOW?

Training and certification by independent experts

Voluntary Adhesion

CONTACT?

For more information send us an e-mail: aciambiente@aciamericas.coop

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ELEVATING MEMBERS’ PARTICIPATION AND GOVERNANCE TO A NEW LEVEL

One of the reasons why we know cooperatives are a better alternative is that they allow people’s participation through ownership. Democratic member participation is the best-known feature of the co-operative way of doing business, and a major part of what characterises a co-operative in contrast to investor-owned businesses. In its Blueprint for a Cooperative Decade the International Cooperative Alliance raises the challenge of elevating participation within membership and governance to a new level. In this issue, Manuel Mariño, Regional Director of ICA- Americas analyses the importance of Governance for the success and survival of any enterprise, organization or government.

PARTICIPATION AND GOVERNANCE: ONE OF THE AXES TO DEBATE AND TAKE ACTION IN THE COMING YEARS By Manuel Mariño ICA-Americas Regional Director Governance is crucial for the success of any enterprise, organization or government. During the last years we have been able to verify the existence of great problems of governance at every level: governments, private companies, political organizations or even social organizations. I bring up this issue, because as I think it is closely linked to the global financial and economic crisis that we are facing nowadays.

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Back in 2004, the report “Por una globalización justa: crear oportunidades para todos” (A Fair Globalization: Creating opportunities for All) suggested an urgent change in the policies and institutions of global governance. It also pointed out that The current process of globalization is generating unbalanced outcomes, both between and within countries. Wealth is being created, but too many countries and people are not

sharing in its benefits. They also have little or no voice in shaping the process. Seen through the eyes of the vast majority of women and men, globalization has not met their simple and legitimate aspirations for decent jobs and a better future for their children”. However, in all these years, nothing has been done to modify this deficient functioning and the corruption has kept growing, reaching unimaginable levels.

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Administrative and financial corruption has brought about a cyclical fluctuation in the United States, Europe and other parts of the world which has produced a profund and transcendental economic crisis. The ones to blame are the banks and financial institutions that very totally out of control for several years. Those who led their enterprises to bankruptcy, those who defrauded or created unsustainable schemes, those who irresponsibly made profits using someone else’s capital, should take responsibility for their excesses and their mistakes so that consumers can recover the trust that an environment of order and respect for the rights of the others provides. GOVERNANCE, ETHICS AND LEADERSHIP Cooperatives are not immune to the problems of governance. They are generally perceived in the growing disenchantment of the loss of interest of the members of the cooperative. Cooperatives are by definition democratic and participative organizations. Hence, is it fundamental that cooperatives governance is promoted and controlled by the grass roots, namely their members. If there is not involvement from the grass roots, the risk of ungovernability is huge and even the existence of the organization is at stake. Needless to say, not only the members should be engaged in the cooperative but also all the stakeholder of it political and administrative structure, i.e. the board, the management and the personnel. Ungovernability is seen by means of abuses and privileges in certain levels of the organization; in a bad management of financial resources; a bad service to the mem-

bers; and the perpetuation of the executives in their positions for many years, without receiving any kind of training to contribute to the good governance of their cooperatives. When it comes to cooperatives, governance is the ability to interrelate and keep a balance among the General Assembly, the Board of Directors, the Oversight Board, the General Management and the administrative and operation staff, in order to safeguard the members’ interests. An indispensable condition to reach good governance within cooperatives is to have an ethical leadership. Thus, it is necessary to develop and promote the basic competences, abilities and aptitudes to promote a more participative leadership. Every cooperative needs to have a code of good practices as a starting point to achieve good governance. This is important for the well-being of its members but also to foster economic and social development in its community. GOVERNANCE IN COOPERATIVES Cooperatives differ from traditional enterprises mainly because they are created with the aim of satisfying the needs of their members. People who opt for cooperatives are driven by the solidarity, transparency, democracy and equity. Good governance in cooperatives must contribute to an efficient use of resources and strengthen the trust derived from transparency. This guarantees that the directors are responsible for their actions before their members. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and other multilateral

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agencies such as the World Bank, have identified that the principles for good corporative governance are: ■

Respect for the rights of the stakeholders and equal treatment, no matter how important their capital participation is.

Clear definition of the responsibilities and the functions of the administration.

Transparency, fluency and integrity of information.

Effective communication with the different publics who are interested in the enterprise and its governance structure.

Promotion of the satisfaction of the people who make up the organization.

There is no doubt that cooperatives are different to traditional capital-centred companies in their values, principles and procedures, however, it is not enough to say it, organizations needs to validate this in practice to make it credible. The application of these governance principles contribute to this end. The cooperative sector has had nothing to do with this crisis nor has been responsible for it. In this context, we have the opportunity to demonstrate that we are a different business model, that we can be part of the solution as long as we are given the opportunity to do so. We should be allowed to operate under the same conditions of traditional companies so that we can prove that we are even better because, among other things, we create social capital. But we should be aware of the fact that cooperatives cannot be used to solve the crisis and allow them to be dismissed when the economic situation is buoyant.

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ICA-Americas Social Audit now in Mexico

COOPERATIVE SOCIAL AUDIT: ICA-AMERICAS’ TOOL TO CONTRIBUTE TO SUSTAINABILITY In May 2013 cooperative social auditors made their first visit to the Federación de Cajas Populares Alianza, in Ciudad de León, Mexico, to start the process of elaboration of the Cooperative Social Audit of the organization. This is the first time a Mexican cooperative has applied the Social Audit using the official tool of ICA-Americas. The objective of the visit was to train a team which will work in the report of the Cooperative Social Audit for the organization, in a process that will finalize when Federación de Cajas Populares Alianza receives the certification of the report for 2013 issued by ICA-Americas.

FEDERACIÓN ALIANZA TESTIMONY

CERTIFICATION IN COOPERATIVE SOCIAL AUDIT: A STRATEGY FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT By Ramón Cortés Sánchez Training and Education Manager in Federación ALIANZA (Mexico) The Federación de Cajas Populares ALIANZA from México believes that the implementation of the Cooperative Social Audit is a way of looking into our cooperative business essence. It will lead us to strategic development in the long run and it is not just about obtaining a certificate that praises our action, it is about fulfilling our objectives and institutional policies. The application of the Cooperative Social Audit of ICA-Americas is guiding us to self-discovery of our service and practice; it is showing us clearly a series of areas of improvement which represents a huge opportunity of understanding us better, which is the real “profit” of this interesting process.

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Federación ALIANZA acknowledges that cooperative social responsibility is an axis that guides cooperative work, posing new challenges and producing a winwin situation for all the associate cooperatives. This year, the experience of the Cooperative Social Audit is professionally coordinated by the auditors of ICA-Americas: Liliana González y Juan Carlos San Bartolomé, who, from the very beginning, have sensitized us on the importance of analysing data, actions and figures that tend to be lost in the daily run of our operations. Using this information we will prepare a report with a high sense of transparency and responsibility and take every step to fulfil our

objectives and our organizational mission. It is a fantastic experience to be able to discover that the cooperatives that make up the Federación and the Federación itself, will undertake voluntary actions in the areas of community development, environmental protection, financial inclusion, human rights promotion and growth of our human potential. There is no doubt, that cooperatives undertake actions that effectively benefit people. We are pioneers in the practice of “real” Social Responsibility and not the “fake” one which takes place in neoliberal organizations. We just do it by sticking to our own es-

ICA-Americas Newsletter // Issue Nº 17 // May 2013


sence and nature. The Cooperative Social Audit is making us evaluate the economic and social impact of all the aspects that cannot be measured by means of monetary wealth, and which bring about more collective sense of belonging and integration with the community. The main goal of this Project is to identify the added values that are inherent to the business operation of the Federación so as to discover areas of improvement to guide our planning process. The result will be a crucial input for the strategic planning of the institution.

ICA LAUNCHES WEBSITE FOR 2013 CONFERENCE AND GENERAL ASSEMBLY The official website for this year’s biggest global gathering for co-operators has been launched. Two thousand cooperators from around the world are expected to attend the International Co-operative Alliance’s Global Conference and General Assembly from November 1-5 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. South Africa will host the ICA’s first General Assembly on the continent, which will be focused on the Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade. The event’s theme, Co-operative Decade: Growing the Co-operative Movement, will be the common thread throughout the week of meetings of ICA bodies, plenary sessions and the General Assembly. On the website, the programme outlines a series of meetings be-

tween ICA committees and sectoral organisations, alongside a youth conference and the main conference followed by breakout sessions. Also listed are details about booking hotels and organising trips. During the week there will also be

ICA-Americas Newsletter // Issue Nº 17 // May 2013

a number of booths selling cooperative books and goods, providing information about cooperatives, showcases, and a number of other side meetings. To find out more information about the Cape Town event, visit: http:// www.capetown2013.coop.

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At the end of May, the content of ICA’s official message on the 91st ICA International Co‐operative Day and  the 19th UN International Day of Cooperatives was released. It will be celebrated this year on July 6th and its  central theme will be “Cooperative Enterprise Remains Strong in Times of Crisis”. The message highlights the  vitality and the distinctive resilience of the cooperative business model in times of global economic crisis, in  comparison to other forms of business which measure up when faced with global economic struggles.     The International Cooperative Alliance in conjunction with the European Research Institute on Cooperative  and  Social  Enterprise  (EURICSE)  have  re‐launched  a  second  survey  for  the  World  Co‐operative  Monitor  ‐  a  statistics study on the cooperative movement worldwide. The 2012 report included data about 2.192 coopera‐ tives from 61 countries. This time the participation is expected to be higher. To take part in the study, please  visit http://www.monitor.coop and fill in the online form (available in Spanish). It will take less than 30 min‐ utes. The results of the study will be presented at the Global Conference and ICA General Assembly in Novem‐ ber.      The General Assembly of Cooperatives Europe ‐regional European representation of the ICA‐ gathered in the  city of Istanbul on 6th  May, where the German Dirk  Lehnhoff was elected as its new president. Before, the  delegates  accepted  a  revision  of  its  statute  which  determined  the  creation  of  only  one  presidency.  Dirk  Lehnhoff is a member of the Administration Board of the German Cooperative Confederation (DGRV) and has  contributed to creating more than 600 cooperatives especially in the sector of renewable energies.       Co‐operators paid tribute to Ada Suleimane Kibora, former ICA Africa Regional Director who passed away on  26 March, at the age of 66. He dedicated his whole life to the co‐operative movement, having worked for the  ICA for more than 23  years. Kibora studied co‐operative economics at Marburg University in Germany, from  1971 to 1975. Soon after he had returned to his native country, Burkina Faso, he became head of the branch  for Community Development of the Ministry for Rural Development. He joined the International Co‐operative  Alliance in 1984, as an officer in charge of the research projects led by ICA’s Regional Office in West Africa in  Abidjan, Ivory Coast. In 1989 he became Director  of  ICA’s  Regional  Office  for  West  Africa and from 2004 to  2007 he was ICA’s  Regional  Director  for  Africa. ”The entire co‐operative movement in Africa will forever re‐ member him for his valuable contribution to the development of the movement,“ said Former ICA Regional  Director, Vincent Lubasi.      At  present,  the  International  Cooperative  Alliance  has  271  member  organizations  from  96  countries.  To‐ gether they reunite and represent more than 1 billion of members around the world. 

All of your suggestions and proposals regarding the newsletter’s contents are very important for us, since our primary  goal is to provide a publication enriched by your opinions.   Please send your comments to: communications@aciamericas.coop  ICA-Americas Newsletter // Issue Nº 9 // May 2011 ICA-Americas Newsletter // Issue Nº 17 // May 2013 An e-publication of International Co-operative Alliance for the Americas (ICA Americas) An of International Cooperativeassociation Alliance forwhich the Americas (ICA Americas) ICAe-publication is an independent, non-governmental unites, represents and serves co-operatives worldwide ICA is anManuel independent, association which unites, represents and serves co-operatives worldwide Editor: Mariñonon-governmental // Realization team: Natalia Acerenza, Virginia Pérez Auza and Jorge Cabrera (jcse) Editor: Mariño Realization Acerenza, Virginia Pérez Auza and Cabrera (jcse) © ICA Manuel Americas // //Contents canteam: be Natalia reproduced without authorization on Jorge condition that the source is indicated © ICA Americas // Contents can be reproduced without authorization on condition that the source is indicated

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ICA Americas Newsletter - Issue 17  

International Cooperative Alliance for the Americas Newsletter - Issue Nr. 17 - May 2013