The Co-op Decade and After

This month, I have posted about different co-ops every day in celebration of National Co-op Month (celebrated in Canada and the United States). I did this in conjunction with NWCDC’s daily Facebook post about the same co-op. Today, on the last day of Co-op Month in the last year of the Co-op Decade, I want to talk about our mutual success and what is next.

In 2012, the International Year of the Co-operative, the General Assembly of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) drafted a document known as “The Blueprint for the Co-operative Decade“. The blueprint called for co-ops to work towards the following by 2020:

  • The acknowledged leader in economic, social and environmental sustainability
  • The model preferred by people
  • The fastest growing form of enterprise

Cooperatives, in general, have made great strides in terms of leadership in economic, social, and environmental sustainability. The Blueprint considers five key factors in achieving its Vision 2020:

  • Participation: by members in their co-op governance.
  • Sustainability: co-ops leading the way on reducing C02 and being good stewards of the earth.
  • Identity: promoting the co-op identity as a preferred way of doing business.
  • Legal Framework: expanding the legal protection for co-op businesses to operate.
  • Capital: strengthening the network of capital and building more access to capital within the co-op community.

Overall, I will say, at the outset, the the Blueprint has succeeded. It was approved in late 2013 and launched in 2014.  How much of the success of the plan was due to the ICA catching a wave that started with the 2008 economic crisis and how much was because of the plan’s articulation is debatable. Nevertheless, I think that I can definitely say that the co-op community in 2020 has become remarkably stronger in all aspects that it was in 2010.

My initial idea for today was to talk about how well the blueprint was implemented since 2020 is just 61 days away. I wasn’t able to find much in the way of reporting on it (which is to be expected with strategic plans). I also forget how detailed it was for a single post. As a result, I am going to keep the daily posts going for another 6 days (skipping the weekend) and discuss what I have seen with regards to each of the 5 factors and then a general summary on November 8.  My summary will largely be limited to my area of the world: the Pacific Northwest and worker-coops. However, if you are reading and want to offer your take, please comment!

I hope that people have enjoyed these daily takes. I want to thank GEO for pulling the post and pushing them out to a larger community. They are currently doing their annual fundraiser. Support them (especially if you found your way here through their page). Your comments are always welcome as are guest posts–I never pretend to have either all of the answers or all of the questions. More voices are welcome!

About John McNamara

John spent 26 years with Union Cab of Madison Cooperative and currently helps develop co-ops in the Pacific Northwest. He holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration and Masters in Management: Co-operatives and Credit Unions from Saint Mary's University.
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