The International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) is responsible for ensuring that the 7 Co-operative Principles that underpin co-operative enterprise can be appropriately interpreted around the world. After many years of global consultation and effort, the ICA recently published their Guidance Notes.
In 2011 the Americas Region of the Co-op Alliance sought to amend the 7th Principle, “care for community” to include care for environment. That debate resulted in a process being establishing for amending the Principles. A Co-op Principles Committee – a group of Alliance Directors and expert advisers appointed by the Alliance Board – now exists to respond to all future proposals to amend the Principles.
These Principles have been the globally recognised core of co-operative philosophy since 1844. The task of bringing the application of the Principles into 21st century has been underway since the founding of the Principles Committee in 2012. ICA President Dame Pauline Green described the process as “painstaking work” that has engaged co-operators around the world.
The result is described as a ‘living document’ intended to be kept up to date over time as society’s change, environmental concerns evolve, and as commercial and financial regulation adapt to circumstances.
The Notes help to define what co-operatives are and what it means to be a co-operative in the world today. They also provide guidance to those who register, regulate, or supervising co-operatives at the local, national, and regional level.
The Alliance stewards the co-operative identity internationally and the Co-operative Principles are the most prominent expression of that identity. As we look to implement the Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade by expanding the understanding of the co-op model, the Guidance Notes add depth and clarity to the movement.