The Cooperatives for a Sustainable Transformation in…
The 2022 ICA-CCR Europe conference brought together scholars, researchers and practitioners from around the world for three days of discussions on the future of cooperatives.
Themed "Rethinking co-operatives: from local to global and from the past to the future", the conference ran from 13-15 July in person at Panteion University in Athens and online.
It featured over 150 in-person and online presentations by European speakers, as well as contributions from Asia, Africa and North and South America. Parallel sessions and roundtables included discussion of the cooperative identity, sustainable development and the impact of new technologies on cooperative governance.
Day one included an event for young scholars, attended by 25 participants. Keynote speaker Maria Daskalaki, young scholar Francesca Martinelli and ICT sector cooperator Antonis Faras shared their perspectives on new technologies.
Seven parallel online sessions followed, covering a range of topics, such as cooperative platforms and law, building infrastructure for the ethical scaling of the cooperative movement, and the economic, social and environmental impact of cooperatives. The Cooperative Identity Advisory Group (CIAG) led a round table on revisiting the cooperative identity from a theoretical perspective under the co-coordination of Akira Kurimoto, Alexandra Wilson, and the participation of Hagen Henrÿ, Sonja Novkovic, Cynthia Giagnocavo, Dante Cracogna and Anu Puusa.
The in-person event was officially opened on day two, which included two roundtables – the first on Greek agricultural cooperatives, the second on the concept of cooperative finance as a commons. These were followed by 13 in-person parallel sessions (one of which was also held online) and seven young scholars poster presentations during which attendees could ask questions and have dialogues with the poster authors. Topics discussed included cooperatives and social enterprises, taxation, lessons practical lessons for agricultural cooperatives, gender issues and documentary filmmaking as a form of participatory research.
Keynote speaker Vasilis Kostakis offered a thought-provoking presentation on cooperativism in the digital era. He suggested the ICA introduce a cooperative licence to strengthen the 6th and 7th cooperative principles. This licence would help “commonifying” the shared and re-used resources among the cooperatives. Cooperative resources would be shared for free as a commons within the movement ("commonification"), while capitalist companies would have to pay to use them ("commodification"). The presentation sparked discussion among the young scholars, who also gave a presentation on the outcome of their event.
As the day closed, the CCR Europe Board presented an award to Hagen Henrÿ for his outstanding contribution to the field of cooperative law.
The third day featured two roundtables. The first discussed media cooperatives while the second looked at the Greek initiative to draft a general cooperative law, before the ICA CCR committee answered legal questions from delegates. Throughout the day, there were 11 parallel sessions on subjects including finance, governance, education and the arts.
The plenary session saw Cynthia Giagnocavo facilitate a discussion on cooperatives, digitalisation and the role of the institutional environment (public policies, law and regulation). The panellists were Hagen Henrÿ, who offered a legal perspective, Kostas Nikolaou who examined the topic from a researcher and cooperator’s perspective, and Giorgos Stamboulis, who offered an economist’s perspective.
The conference ended with an in memoriam tribute to Lazaros Aggelou, a significant figure in the Greek cooperative movement, followed by a presentation from Nazik Beishenaly on the 2023 ICA CCR Conference, which will be held in Leuven, Belgium. The closing remarks were delivered by Hagen Henrÿ.