Dear Fellow Co-operator,
We are writing, as has been our custom at the end of each year, to thank you for your membership in the International Co-operative Alliance. It is something we highly value and never take for granted.
It is for that reason that we want also to report on a few of the highlights of the year, without waiting for our Annual Report, which is always a few months in preparation. We want you to know that your subscriptions have been put to good use and your engagement is making a real difference.
Central to all that we do is the fact that we have a long-term plan, we know where we are going. The Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade, which our members adopted at the close of the 2012 United Nations International Year of Co-operatives, guides our strategy. This year, 2014, the second year of implementation of the Blueprint, we have seen real momentum building.
The global co-operative marque, which we launched just one year ago, at our General Assembly in Cape Town, South Africa, has now been registered for use by co-operatives in over 80 countries. Our goal is for this to become one of the most highly recognised global ethical marques by 2020, as co-operatives use this graphic image to signal their co- operative identity. You can fill in the application to use the marque by going to www.identity.coop – and it is free to members of the Alliance!
DotCoop, the top level internet domain, now has users in over 90 countries, who use a .coop address to demonstrate their co-operative identity online. It is at the same time an important business strategy for the Alliance, intended to diversify our revenue and decrease our reliance on subscriptions, as our members directed us to undertake at our Rome General Assembly in 2008.
We are aware that our identity is not only about image, and so our Principles Committee has been hard at work drafting the Guidance Notes to our Co-operative Principles that members directed us to develop when we met in Manchester in 2012. These will be open for comment next Summer and presented at our General Assembly in Turkey, 10–13 November, 2015.
Following the completion of our Scan of Co-operative Sustainability, we were able to launch a Sustainability Advisory Group, comprised of representatives from co-operatives that the scan identified as leading in sustainability practices. This group is now identifying best practices and tools we can share with other co-operatives. More on that to come.
Our World Co-operative Monitor, which we produce in partnership with Euricse (the European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises) has become the point of reference for co-operative statistics, with a database now of 2000 co-operatives around the world, allowing us to track co-operative growth by sector. The 2014 edition was released at the 2nd International Summit of Co-operatives in Québec City, Canada, which we co-hosted with the Desjardins Group in October. It shows that the 300 largest co-operatives around the world have once again grown, this year exceeding USD 2,200 billion (2.2 trillion) in turnover. These figures provide us with undeniable credibility as we take our larger people-centred message of co-operative impact at all levels to global policymakers.