The 3rd International Summit of Cooperatives, co-hosted by Desjardins Group and International Co-operative Alliance, will be held in Québec, featuring the theme Cooperatives: Power to Act. From 11 to 13 October 2016, over 150 international experts will share their views on global affairs and solutions for sustainable economic prosperity.

Over a three-day period, the Summit will give executives, decision-makers, managers and leaders, some of them affiliated with co-operatives and others not, the opportunity to think about the new socio-economic and geopolitical realities in the company of some of the world’s thought leaders. They will review the challenges that face co-operatives and mutuals, as well as the most promising options for tackling those challenges. Finally, they will be able to take part in workshops where they will identify concrete actions to resolve key issues around the world.

“The Summit will address the essential role of co-operatives and mutuals in implementing sustainable economic development strategies. In an uncertain world beset by crises, the co-operative model is a solution for the future because of its stability and tremendous power to act throughout the world. Already, its influence in the local, regional and global economy demonstrates that it is part of the solution to planetary issues. We will look at ways to take it even farther,” indicated International Co-operative Alliance President Monique F. Leroux.

Day 1. Understanding the social, economic and geopolitical challenges around the world

Growing inequalities, weakening real economies, employment crises, the impact of the digital world, the role of women, renewable energy development, innovation, emergence of the collaborative economy, and access to health care are but some of the issues that will be addressed by world renowned speakers, who will provide a composite sketch of the current social, economic and geopolitical situation in the world, the major economic and financial trends, and the outlook for the future. From these discussions will emerge the defining role of co-operatives and mutuals which, over the years, have managed to stand out for their resilience and contribution to economic, social and environmental sustainability.

Day 2. Increasing the capacity to act and expanding economic power

Adapting to the new business reality

Like all businesses, co-operatives and mutuals have to introduce the most efficient tools and the most effective strategies to ensure their development. A series of forums will address ways of mastering the engines of growth by tapping into new business realities such as innovation culture, work in the digital era, the use of Big Data, access to capital, talent management, and a commitment to the community. A forum will also cover the growth of start-up and developing co-operatives.

Sectoral challenges and business opportunities

Participants will be grouped into activity sectors, and invited to share experiences, business opportunities and challenges specific to the following sectors: agriculture and agri-food industries, insurance, banking and financial services, health and social care, wholesale and retail trade, industry, services and energy, and forestry.

Each group will review ways to adapt to the new competition and the need for co-operatives and mutuals to be competitive. These exchanges will also foster the sharing of strategies that can lead to business partnerships.

Day 3. Resolving global issues

By their nature and mission, co-operatives and mutuals are well positioned to contribute to the well-being of communities and to address the issues that threaten them. For this reason, the third day of the Summit  will focus on providing concrete solutions to the key issues identified by the UN, which are food security, the employment crisis, access to health care and social services, poverty and financial inclusion, climate change and sustainable development. Co-operatives and mutuals clearly have a decisive role to play in bringing about change. Experts will take part in a round table to present their points of view on this subject, and participants will gather in workshops to propose ways of addressing specific challenges.

Targeted activities for the co-operative and mutual sector, scientists and young leaders

Alongside the regular program, the Summit will host some twenty events organized by co-operatives, mutuals, co-operative associations, and local organizations. The Rendez-vous will give the members of these organizations the opportunity to get together for work, information and training sessions.

A scientific symposium will bring together researchers, practicians, players and stakeholders from different backgrounds to discuss the power to act and the impact of co-operatives and mutuals. Scientific activity projects can be submitted until March 31, 2016 by anyone wishing to take part in these scientific and professional sessions.

The Summit will also look at the issue of succession. Young people involved in co-operatives around the world, between the ages of 20 and 35, are invited to meet current co-operative leaders and representatives of major international organizations such as the UN and WHO for an introduction to best practices in co-operatives and mutuals. This is also an exceptional opportunity for them to network with their peers.

For additional information about activities at the Summit and to register: www.intlsummit.coop

About the International Summit of Cooperatives

The International Summit of Co-operatives is the world’s leading event for business development in the cooperative and mutual community. It offers managers, decision-makers and leaders of cooperative and mutual enterprises of all sizes and in all sectors, as well as anyone in the world of business, a unique venue for reflection, discussion, cooperation and training on major trends, as well as on current and future economic and financial issues. By demonstrating that cooperatives are one answer to the major socioeconomic issues of our times, the Summit aims to promote and foster the development of cooperative enterprises in all countries. The event attracts more than 3,000 participants from 93 countries.