The first woman President in the 120-year history of International Co-operative Alliance (ICA), Dame Pauline Green, announced her early retirement on June 26 at the UK’s Co-operative Congress in Birmingham. Dame Pauline, who has been actively engaged with UK co-operatives for 35 years, was elected President of the Alliance, the global representative body, in 2009 and re-elected in 2013 for four additional years.
Acknowledging that her decision to retire was precipitated by the decision of the Co-operative Group that it could no longer support their commitment for the funding of the role of the ICA President beyond the end of 2015, Dame Pauline said that she has become convinced that this is the right moment to stand down but that she “will always be immensely proud to be a member of this great worldwide movement”.
“Under Dame Pauline’s presidency, both the Alliance and the co-operative movement have benefited from a significant rise in profile” stated Charles Gould, Director- General of the International Co-operative Alliance. “The Alliance is confident that, as a result of the work of Dame Pauline, a very strong list of president candidates will establish itself”.
In her letter to the Board informing them of her decision, Dame Pauline summarized the evolution of the ICA over the course of her six years: “In 2009 together we promised radical change. We have made good on that promise and built significant added value for our member co-operatives. We have enhanced our representational role at global level beyond recognition, and now produce annual global statistics for the movement that are used by decision-makers across the world. We have a global strategy: The Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade that has received worldwide recognition, huge membership engagement, and is core to national co-operative strategies in many countries.”
In Canada, where both Dame Pauline Green and the global strategy she has championed have made a big impact, the announcement of her departure was deeply felt. Denyse Guy, Executive Director of Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada reflected on the news: “Dame Pauline Green has been a positive and supportive influence during the many changes in Canada in the last few years. Her leadership will be missed and we will send her our thanks for her remarkable achievements.”
The President of the International Co-operative Alliance is the chief representative of the Alliance and presides over the General Assembly and Board. The Alliance’s Election Committee will issue a call for nominations for President with timelines following its Board meeting, late July 2015.