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IYC was officially launched in different countries and cities worldwide

12 January 2012

On January 12th co-operatives around the world joined together to launch the International Year of Cooperatives. The website, the Global News Hub for co-operatives, brought together live webcasts along with a stream of photographs and articles from the various country launches.

Ecuador started the celebrations at 07.45 local time (12.45 GMT) from the Sheraton Hotel in Quito. The event featured ministers of state and was organised by the Ecuadorian Committee for the Promotion of International Year of Cooperatives.

In Portugal, the development centre for co-operatives CASES, hosted the official launch of the International Year at 5.00pm (GMT/local time). The opening speech was given by Pedro Mota Soares, the Minister for Solidarity and Social Security. He was joined by Eduardo Graça, President of CASES; Manuel dos Santos Gomes, President of CONFAGRI; and Jerónimo Teixeira, President of CONFECOOP.

In Canada (5.30 pm GMT), a national launch organised by the Canadian Co-operative Association and the Conseil canadien de la coopération et de la mutualité took place in Ottawa, together with more than 12 other simultaneous regional events across the country. All locations were linked by a live webcast. The webcast included remarks by Kathy Bardswick, president and CEO of The Co-operators (live from Calgary) and Monique Leroux, president and CEO of Desjardins (live from Lévis, Quebec) as well as the premiere of a co-operative musical work by the Montreal group Samajam, who performed live in Ottawa.

Co-operatives Europe coordinated launches across continental Europe in Belgium, France, Italy and Bulgaria and there were also celebrations in Australia and South Korea.

ICA President at United Kingdom launch

In the United Kingdom, Co-operatives UK hosted a live broadcast with national newspaper the Guardian. Mr Confino, Executive Editor of The Guardian, said co-operatives have to come out of their shell to show their power and to make change. He also said there is a "public perception that co-ops are old fashioned". He added: "It is not always about looking for the next big thing, but going back in the journey to see which lessons we lost."

Also on the panel was Pauline Green, President, International Co-operative Alliance, who explained that co-operatives "stretch from a four or five person co-operative in a small african village to retain the wealth within that community through to a large business of scale".

Charles Leadbeater, economist and innovation thinker, on the panel said: "We have been taught over a long period of time that we are selfish. This is reinforced by years of neoliberal economics that selfishness actuates the economy, and that’s wrong. This will be proven to be wrong.

"There is a growing number of pieces of intellectual work that points to our co-operative nature; that we are born co-operative. We are more capable of forms of co-operation that are vastly more complex than any other species."

These worldwide launches showed the importance of cooperation and the geographical diversity of the cooperative movement.

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