Co-operatives and major global challenges
Co-operatives and major global challenges
More than 3000 people from 93 different countries took part at the 2014 International Summit of Co-operatives, which was held in Quebec City from 6 to 9 October.
Moving on from the 2012 event, which recognised and valued the co-operative movement, on this occasion the debates focused on meeting major global challenges, including access to health care and health services. The summit highlighted the substantial contribution made by the co-operative movement to a more stable global economy with a greater concern for people.
In a world struggling to restore balance after suffering years of a devastating financial and economic crisis which has exacerbated inequality and accentuated unemployment, “there can be no doubt that the world needs co-operatives, because they are based on a commitment to people and to solidarity,” asserted Monique Leroux, President of the Desjardins group, at the opening of the summit.
Given the trend towards a larger and more aged global population, the provision of health services becomes a challenge which governments and traditional private enterprises are not always able to address. A number of economists are already suggesting that the health care sector will soon be one of the largest in the global economy.
Countries with emerging economies need innovative formulae in order to meet the health demands of millions of people. These formulae could draw inspiration from the experience of Hospital de Barcelona, which Espriu Foundation trustee Gerard Martí explained during the summit. “Grup Assistència represents a co-operative core of medical professionals and users who together manage a general hospital, and a health insurance company of a sustainability demonstrated by its many years in operation,” asserted Martí during his speech.
Such initiatives must not, though, turn their back on of governments, but rather be undertaken with their collaboration. José Carlos Guisado, the President of the International Health Co-operatives Organisation (IHCO) asserted on one of the round tables that “when governments encounter difficulties they turn to co-operatives, in particular with regard to cost”.
Robert Shiller, the 2013 Nobel Economics Prize-winner, suggested that growing inequality will have adverse effects, hence the need for co-operatives. Shiller claimed that we are evolving slowly towards an empathetic economic model, in which co-operation is vital.
The results of numerous international studies presented during the summit focused on the issues guiding the debates. In the field of health, one of the key revelations came in the study co-sponsored by the IHCO, showing that at least 81 million people around the world are linked to the almost 5000 health care co-operatives researched.
Another enlightening figure was provided by the research undertaken by CICOPA (the International Organisation of Industrial, Artisanal and Service Producers’ Co-operatives), confirming that co-operatives generate 250 million jobs around the world, and 12% of employment in the G20 nations.
The third edition of the World Co-operative Monitor, sponsored by the Espriu Foundation, was also presented in Québec. The study highlighted the fact that the turnover of the 300 largest co-operatives rose by 11.6% over the period 2010-2012, amounting in this last year to 2.2 trillion dollars (1.77 trillion euros), equivalent to the GDP of Brazil.
The debates culminated in a declaration setting out the key conclusions concerning the issues addressed. As regards the health sector, the co-operative leaders undertook: to promote their presence as a complement to government services, particularly in the provision of hospital care – related services; to develop innovative solutions to help communities manage health care and services themselves by making citizens central to solutions, with a clear focus on prevention and the promotion of healthy lifestyle habits; and to present and promote insurance products that are based on mutualizing risk and aligned with people’s ability to pay.