Director-General's Report (1997)

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This document has been made available in electronic format
by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA)
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July, 1997
(Source: ICA Review, Vol.90 No.2 - Annual Report 1996-1997, pp.4-5)


Director-General's Report
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The Secretariat Reports which follow indicate the progress which 
has been made during the last year in following up on the priorities 
identified by the ICA Board at its planning session in December 1995.

Information remains a key component of all ICA activities. Efforts
are underway to reach a wider audience through production of 
publications in more of the ICA's official languages and by use of 
the Internet and the production and dissemination on video news
releases on the co-operative movement. The need to improve 
co-operative statistics is being addressed through a global project, 
beginning in Europe with a project funded by the European Union. A new 
corporate communications strategy for all ICA offices is under 
preparation.

Co-operatives continue to play a visible role on UN agendas. 
As a result of the ICA's consultative status, and through 
collaboration with its specialised organisations for housing 
and agriculture, it was possible for co-operatives to have 
their views expressed in 1996 at the Istanbul Habitat Conference 
and the Rome Food Summit. As in the case of previous UN Summits 
in Copenhagen and Beijing, the final conference documents remind 
governments of the importance of co-operative enterprise. ICA 
continues to play an active role in COPAC, whose current priority 
is to help the UN develop guidelines regarding the proper 
relationship between co-operatives and governments.

Development remains the focus of ICA's network of regional offices.
The ICA development budget, now legally placed in the new ICA 
Development Trust, is thereby separated from the regular ICA budget, 
although it continues to be implemented by the same ICA staff members. 
Financial constraints remain a common problem for all offices, 
in keeping with the world-wide trend of reduction in development 
support. The Regional Office for West Africa was relocated in April 
from Abidjan (C(tm)te d'Ivoire) to Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), 
where operating costs are significantly less. Efforts continue to 
sell the Bonow House in New Delhi. 

ICA's European programme continues to be implemented from the 
Head Office, where the newly-appointed European Secretary is 
able to collaborate as needed with other staff members and minimise
overhead costs. Guidelines for project implementation are being 
worked out with the European Council. Close liaison continues
with the Brussels sectoral associations through their participation
as observers in meetings of ICA Europe and through regular 
consultation meetings at the leadership level. 

A stronger focus on membership services and relations with the 
Specialised Bodies has continued throughout the year. Efforts are 
underway to provide tailor-made services to individual member 
organisations and to the ten Specialised Organisations. All four 
Specialised Committees now receive secretariat support from the ICA 
Head Office. Work is progressing, in collaboration with the 
Specialised Bodies, to identify new members both for them and for 
ICA. During the last year the Board approved the membership 
applications of 29 new organisations, although 8 others were 
obliged to withdraw due to financial difficulties. 
 
An important theme of ICA's work in all areas is to strengthen 
collaboration with like-minded international organisations in 
order to maximise impact and minimise costs. The International 
Raiffeisen Union, the International Federation of Agricultural 
Producers, and the recently-created Agri-Food Network of business 
organisations have all worked with ICA in various activities during 
the last year. Civil society collaboration to achieve mutual goals 
is, quite appropriately, the theme of the seminar being held during
the 1997 General Assembly.

Carrying out all these activities are some 60 staff members in 
ICA's Head Office, four Regional Offices, and four Project Offices.
To all of them I express my thanks for another year of efficient
and dedicated work.

Bruce Thordarson