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Cooperatives of America met in Bogotá, Colombia

18 February 2020

The 78th Cooperative Administration Council of the Americas was held in Bogotá, with the participation of representatives from 23 countries of the continent, who review the progress of the cooperative movement

The inaugural speech was given by Carlos Acero Sánchez, president of Confecoop, who explained how cooperativism is a matter of all and inclusion in the world and how the movement addresses different dimensions with the purpose of grouping and representing different sectors such as youth, gender equity, financial inclusion and political advocacy.

During the installation ceremony, Graciela Fernández Quintas, president of Cooperatives of the Americas, also highlighted how significant advances for cooperativism were achieved at the Kigali-Rwanda world conference in 2019 and how through allied organizations it has been managed to make visible the work of cooperativism in America. He said that from allied organizations, Cooperatives of the Americas has made visible the work of cooperativism in America and highlighted the situation as a decisive year for the cooperative sector, where he invited members to rethink and reflect on how we can make an effective integration at the regional level, how to strengthen ties with governments and bilateral organizations and position the sector as an engine for social development. Finally, he invited cooperatives not to limit themselves and take advantage of the visibility spaces.

Jorge Andrés López Bautista, president of the board of directors of Confecoop, made the presentation of the Colombian cooperativism to the leaders of the continental cooperativism, highlighting the contribution of the cooperatives in the last quarter of 2019 on the financial balance sheet.

Martha Ruiz, UNDP senior project advisor in Colombia, explained the challenge of the Sustainable Development Goals in the country and how groups are formed to address certain segments according to the convergence of several of the objectives: people combo, prosperity combo, as a planet, peace combo and pacts combo.

Camilo Herrera, president of the research and market analysis firm Raddar, spoke of demographic and consumer trends in Latin America and emphasized the role of the solidarity economy and cooperativism in these scenarios. He added that cooperativism has the opportunity to transform its services to meet the needs of new generations according to the redefinitions of new consumer trends in Latin America

Sector meetings

The event included four sector meetings, held simultaneously, with the participation of delegates from the 23 countries and the 12 Colombian cooperative entities that are part of Cooperatives of the Americas.

Meeting of the Cooperative Financial Committee of the Americas - Cofia, on Financial Inclusion, was moderated by Alfredo Arana Velasco, president of the Committee and of the Coomeva Cooperative Group. Mauricio Tovar, co-director of the InTIColombia research group of the National University, intervened with an exhibition on “Industrial Revolution, blockchain and financial inclusion in Latin America”, where he addressed topics such as the phenomenon of gout, which has become a form of slavery modern for which the governments of Latin America are not yet prepared.

The Political Advocacy Roundtable, moderated by Carlos Acero Sánchez, was attended by leaders of Cooperatives of the Americas, Confecoop, Ascoop, Analfe, Fecolfin, Special Administrative Unit of Solidarity Organizations, Superintendency of the Solidarity Economy and several congressmen of Colombia. The Representative to the Chamber for Antioquia, Germán Blanco made the introduction in the political advocacy dialogue, explaining the formation of the Cooperative Parliamentary Bank in Colombia. On behalf of the National Government, the Superintendent of the Solidarity Economy, Ricardo Lozano Pardo and the director of Solidarity Organizations, Rafael Antonio González, spoke. For its part, the president of Cooperatives of the Americas, Graciela Fernández highlighted the difficulty and complexity of relations between the cooperative union and state and parliamentary authorities in much of America. And finally, Luis Carlos López, leader of Cooperar, Argentina, described the successful advocacy experience with the Argentine Parliament, even with a government hostile to cooperativism.

The Gender Equality Meeting was moderated by the coordinator of the Regional Committee for Gender Equity, Xiomara Núñez de Céspedes, and had the interventions of the director of Ascoop and president of the Gender Equity Committee of the ICA, María Eugenia Pérez Zea ; Diana Parra, Undersecretary of Equity Policy of Bogotá, and Laura Londoño expert in organizational policies for Gender Equity. On the one hand, Diana Parra presented the goals that the Mayor’s Office of Bogotá has to reduce gender violence. María Eugenia Pérez Zea, who is also a Coomeva leader, spoke about the work that the Group does to sensitize the cooperative sector on the importance of gender equity policies and told how this work has made the entity have received for several years , the Equipares award, which recognizes the investment for closing gaps in this area. Finally, Laura Londoño acknowledged that the Latin American cooperative sector has positively transformed gender equity policies.

The Youth Meeting was moderated by Angélica Soberanes, coordinator of the Youth Committee of Cooperatives of the Americas and had the special participation of Sergio Fernández, deputy director for Youth of the Secretariat of Social Integration of the District; and with panelists Leidy Restrepo of the Coomeva Group and Tatiana Pardo of the Cooperative University of Colombia.
Among the issues discussed, the leading role of the youth cooperative sector was highlighted as an alternative and solution to the economic crisis in Latin America. There was talk about how cooperatives strengthen the different opportunities and challenges that Colombia has in terms of youth and how significant progress can be made that benefits all citizens; It also highlights advances in the actions of the Partnership of the International Cooperative Alliance and the Commission of the European Union: “Cooperatives in development: people-centered companies, in action”, the articulation that has allowed programs such as the Global Entrepreneurship Program Cooperative and the great achievements of the Global Youth Forum.

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