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12 Jan 2020

Cooperative contributes 10% in world GDP: ICA chief

Sharmila Thakuri
Sharmila Thakuri

Ariel Guarco was elected to the Presidential post of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) at its General Assembly held in Kuala Lumpur of Malaysia in 2017.

He is a cooperative leader that has undertaken a cooperative movement development process in his country, Argentina, and has built strong bonds with the rest of the cooperative movement in the American continent and worldwide.

Mr. Guarco started in the cooperative movement over 20 years ago in his home town Electric Cooperative, in Coronel Pringles, Province of Buenos Aires (Argentina), and holding different positions until the presidency, which he holds since 2007.

He is President of Cooperar, the Confederation of Cooperatives of Argentina, since 2011 and he has been a Board member of the International Cooperative Alliance since 2013. Cooperar works with 74 cooperative federations, 5,000 cooperatives, and ten million members.

Mr. Guarco is also the President of the Federation of Electric and Public Services Co-operatives of the Province of Buenos Aires (FEDECOBA) since 2008. He is the author of the book “The Argentine Cooperative Movement – A hopeful Look into the Future”. 

Our Reporter Ms. Sharmila Thakuri spoke with him during the Global Conference of International Cooperatives Alliance held in Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda recently.

The excerpts are as follow:

How do you evaluate the global cooperative movement?

The people being involved in the cooperative moment account over than a billion and has provided employment directly and indirectly to nearly 280 million people around the world. Today cooperative is considered as the fifth economy of the world which has been contributing 10% of the world GDP. So, cooperative is a massive movement that still need to be expanded globally. However, the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) is working to further develop cooperative movement and areas by rectifying arise problems in the days ahead.

What are the main challenges and opportunity are in the cooperative sector?

Yes like other areas, cooperative movement also facing different challenges such as lack of humanity, climate change etc. That’s why through the cooperative practice we are trying to change the society towards peace, solidarity, equality. Also, we are working to create a peaceful cooperative society by enhancing the lifestyle of the affiliates.

Do the ICA has partnership tied-up with any international organization? And how much contributed to the global economy through by cooperative?

Mr. Ariel Guarco, President of International Co-operative Alliance

Good question. Yes, of course, ICA has good relationship with United Nations, International Labour Organization (ILO) and others. With ILO, we have signed a MOU for contributing in the world economy through “cooperative for labour and labour for cooperative” methodologies.

In addition, we are also working to join hands with Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). With this, definitely, we will have mutual exchange of experiences and financial tools for our members.

What is ICA doing to promote and protect for global cooperative movement?

ICA is an umbrella organization of all kind of cooperatives scattered around the world. Our main duty and responsibility is to promote, defend and create unity among those all cooperatives.

Today, 1.2 billion members of the three million cooperatives of the world are under the ICA that has been advocating cooperative sectors problems to the concerned authorities for their constructive results.

Co-operative workmates are complaining that the ICA’s function is rather slow than expectation?

As you know ICA is consisted of the various people with different background from the world. That’s why working with those all at once is not easy. And also, the people have unlimited expectation and thinking capacities.

We are also not capable to immediately solve those all various problems arises due to various reasons. But our main duty is to represent cooperatives of the world, effort to solve their arising problems, connect each other in between cooperatives for better understand themselves and could be able to wipe out their difficulties by themselves.

It is also being widely complained that cooperatives are functioning with profit motives same as bigger private businesses. How would you cope it?

Of course, cooperatives are also have to run for profit oriented as other businesses. If not then it cannot be operated well. As other big businesses, we too have also Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Cooperatives are concern with community whereas businesses are focus on higher profit aim. Only the differences between cooperative and private enterprises are cooperatives run under democratic way with one member one vote but private enterprises would have many way outs.

What are the role being playing by ICA to contribute to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals?

I can claim that Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) is cooperative movement’s DNA. Because before the United Nation’s declaration about the SDG, ICA has been working on the same kind of programmes for the betterment of the world’s human being through cooperative movement. Besides UN’s SDG, cooperatives are also expanding movement for sustainable development, peace, prosperity, downsize the poverty etc.

May I know about the ICA’s role for youth and women development?

Ariel Guarco

After being elected to the ICA besides other activities, I have formed Youth and Women Units for bringing equality. Also we are supporting to expand their activities. ICA is organizing International Youth Summit early next month (February) in Malaysia. I am hopeful that the various youth related problems and prospects will be discussed that will definitely give guidance for future plan.

Also we are thinking to set up Gender Committee. I hope with this kind of activities spread throughout the world will bring peace, humankind, gender equality, sustainability among the cooperative followers.

These days, climate change becoming a hotcake, could you highlight something on this about ICA’s campaign?

Yes, climate change is a hot topic being discussed everywhere every time. However, cooperatives around the world are working with their commitments for making society to be livable place. Climate change should be taken as a serious issue. But not only should the cooperatives, all sectors have to be involved in changing the greenery society.

Let’s change the context, recently the Government of Nepal has fixed the interest rate in the cooperative sector according to the new Cooperative Act and by-laws. But the cooperative movement are seem against this, what would be your opinion as a president of ICA?

I don’t have specific answer on this issue. Each and every country has their own regulations. Cooperatives are also a bunch of citizens whereas government is also work for the betterment of the people too.

So, there is no doubt that cooperatives should assist government for creating people oriented sound policies that will upgrade the people’s lifestyle. Cooperative movement should always be a part of government’s machinery. Government will drive cooperatives according to the policies that are definitely would be beneficiary for the citizens.

In Nepal, in this issue cooperative sector stands against concern authorities. And they want influence from ICA? What will be your suggestions?

I have seen this kind of problems in many countries too. In this issue, ICA could analyze deeply and only could advise the concern authority. Nevertheless, ICA will always work for the better situation for the cooperative sectors.

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