The International Co-operative Alliance webinar on 31 May 2022 gave partners and co-operatives from around the world the opportunity to exchange views with the candidates for the presidency of the global organisation: Jean-Louis Bancel (France), Ariel Guarco (Argentina) and Melina Morrison (Australia). The election will take place on 20 June in Seville (Spain).
Jean-Louis Bancel, President of Coop FR, began the session with a presentation of his career as a senior civil servant in the French government and as a mutual and cooperative leader for the past 40 years, serving the general interest.
Actions in the service of cooperatives
Jean-Louis Bancel gave several examples of actions he has undertaken or supported in the service of cooperatives:
- the drafting of guidelines for the contemporary interpretation of the cooperative principles, written when he chaired the Alliance's Principles Committee;
- his interventions to defend cooperatives threatened by their public authorities, whether in Japan for the benefit of agricultural cooperatives, or in Poland and in several other cases
- the setting up in France of an independent auditing system that certifies to public opinion the respect of the cooperative principles, to fight against the danger of false cooperatives;
- a strong commitment to supporting cooperative start-ups combining cooperative work and new technologies, such as cooperative platforms, data cooperatives or the rapprochement between the social economy and the commons sector;
- participation in most of the major international cooperative meetings, and the recent creation of the Global Innovation Coop Summit, which will hold a session in Paris and online on 26 and 27 September.
Jean-Louis Bancel stressed the need for the ICA to be a community, not just an institution. He pledged to put the Alliance back at the service of co-operatives and to involve young people. He believes that the ICA's level of visibility can be raised through collaborative work.
J.-L. Bancel mentioned several ways to strengthen the place of cooperation in the world, and generational transmission, two major themes of his campaign.
For example, by creating a "Wiki coop" to gather all the information on cooperatives worldwide, or, more ambitiously, a major school of cooperative management! The 17 sustainable development objectives will be the subject of circles led by board members, supported by a young cooperator.
The cooperative movement should also be involved in all international institutions: following the example of the G20, and, for example, returning to the World Bank. According to J.-L. Bancel, in order to create a global cooperative public opinion, we cannot leave the monopoly of the word to other sectors!
Finally, we must activate the levers on financial means to develop! Its first external action will be to meet the leaders of the European Commission at the highest level to quickly conclude a new partnership agreement, like the one the ICA has had for the last 5 years, with 8 million euros for the development of the cooperative movement. To concretely support the development of co-operatives, it will be necessary to create a mechanism that allows co-operative agencies to work together and to strengthen the existing platform.
Young people and generational transmission
Jean-Louis Bancel has made the issue of transmission his hobbyhorse. Convinced that the younger generation must be considered on an equal footing, he wishes to involve the network of young cooperators in the issues of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), cooperative education, new technologies (digital platforms), development, etc.
"We need to use everyone's energy, involve all cooperatives, and young people!”
Young cooperators are already contributing to the development of cooperatives at the international level. The cooperative movement must support their actions and not impose a framework. Generational transmission can come from young people themselves! They will be co-constructing on the subject of cooperative education.
The organisation of the ICA
Finally, Jean-Louis Bancel developed his vision for the organisation of the International Co-operative Alliance.
"We will all be at the service of ICA members and all co-operatives. There is strength in unity.”
The French candidate believes that we can progress collectively through exchange. The ICA's employee team will have his full confidence and clear objectives. In return, they will have to ensure that the elected representatives are respected.