(Source: ICA Review, Vol. 90 No. 3, 1997, pp.5-7)
The ICA’s General Assembly will take place in Switzerland this September and the ICA Director and Staff are thrilled to have the opportunity of welcoming our colleagues in Geneva. We hope that the meetings will be both fruitful and enjoyable even if our modest resources mean less social activities than delegates are accustomed to when a General Assembly is hosted by an ICA member organisation.
In preparation for this event, this issue of the Review is dedicated
to the General Assembly and its peripheral meetings - sectorial meetings
and seminars, etc.
In addition to the documentation for the General Assembly, this review also contains an article on developments in the consumer movement in Russia during the period of radical social and economic reform which followed the demise of the former Soviet Union. The publication features articles on activities of two of the ICA Departments - Development and Communications - based on information presented to the ICA Board at its April meeting in Uganda.
The ICA Development Programme is experiencing busy days. The annual planning and review meetings with the Regional Offices are important events on our summer agenda. These meetings give development staff from the regional and head offices the opportunity to come together to review regional programmes and assess their pertinence in light of the rapidly changing environment. Some of these meetings also involve partners whose inputs in the planning process as ICA stakeholders are highly appreciated. Our members in the regions have already been involved at an early stage in laying the groundwork for regional strategies that should express their needs and aspirations. They are, after all, the raison d’être of the Development Programme.
The Development Programme is also involved in new initiatives, one of which is the data bank of members that is currently being established. We have for a long time deplored the lack of reliable information about our membership, in particular data showing the number of active societies in the regions. We realize that this may be achieved neither easily nor without considerable cost, but we also recognise the importance of being able to keep our fingers on the co-operative pulse.
Development costs money, and in a period of tightened purse strings this is a fact that is constantly brought back to us. Resource mobilization has therefore become another priority, and identifying and approaching new partners has become an activity with increased significance on our work plan. Another activity of major importance has subsequently become the formulation of good projects that will complement the development activities of potential partners, as well as contribute to the achievement of our own development objectives.
The Development Trust having been officially launched, letters are now being sent out to selected individuals and organizations inviting them to be represented on the Trust’s Advisory Board. We are confident that the Development Trust will give new impetus to ICA’s development efforts.
We are very pleased to have the opportunity to present to you some of the new Communications initiatives, which are both exciting as well as a trifle daunting because they are on the cutting edge and their success depends to a large extent on the contribution of members and other co-operators.
We would like to ask your assistance particularly in contributing information on the Co-operative Movement to the ICA Gopher and Web Site. During the summer we are lucky enough to have the services of an intern who will be helping us develop the web site. Throughout this period we are planning to offer our members a new service - will be pleased to put up pages about their organisation and activities on our web site. Full details on how to participate in this new initiative will be included in the next issue of the ICA News. We are also looking for volunteers to contribute to a new part of our site targeting young people called “Co-ops for Kids” which has been financed by the Co-operative Policy Branch of New South Wales Government.
The European Statistics Project has begun to take shape with the conception of a database incorporating all the information needs of the different ICA activities and the imminent drafting of a questionnaire which will be sent to ICA members and other co-operative organisations in Europe in the first instance and then to other regions. Arsenio Invernizzi, who masterminded the European Project and obtained the necessary funding assistance from the European Union, has contributed an article to this issue stressing the usefulness of Co-operative Statistics at the international level.
Taking advantage of the new possibilities for distance education afforded by the Internet, ICA is also looking into setting up a new project on Technology in Co-operative Education in collaboration with the Centre for the Study of Co-operatives at Saskatchewan University. Details of this new initiative will be included in the next review.
While we are finalising this issue of the Review, a television crew is busy filming in Nairobi for the first ICA Video News Release (VNR) which will endeavour to shown the world how co-operatives can help improve the lives of ordinary people. We hope that it will be shown on television channels worldwide.
The video news release will be launched to coincide with the International Day of Co-operatives and echoes the theme of this year’s day “The Contribution of Co-operatives to World Food Security” by focusing on agricultural co-operatives.
We are looking for story ideas for future VNRs. A list of criteria has been included with the information on the targeted television strategy on page x. All suggestions and ideas would be most welcome.
Suzanne Wise from Sweden is assisting the Regional Office in the coordination of the filming, assisting the crew, setting up interviews, etc. on a voluntary basis. I would like to take this opportunity to thank her and all other volunteers without whom the ICA Communications Programme would not be able to keep up with the ever increasing demands for information worldwide.
Our volunteers participate in many different areas including testing links on the web site and contributing their services to our on-line and other communications activities, both in person and virtually (thanks to the Internet) such as the Co-operatives for Kids initiative and the new sub-committee on Co-operatives and Trade.
It is a pleasure working on these projects in collaboration with so many people from diverse cultures and backgrounds and from all parts of the world.
This is a concrete example of co-operation across boundaries and reinforces our belief that Co-operation Works!
Director of Communications