ICA Regional Assembly for the Americas Sao Paulo, Brazil - November 21-22, 1994 Minutes Opening Ceremony The President of the Organisation of Co-operatives of Brazil (OCB), Dr. Dejandir Dalpasquale, welcomed participants to the first meeting of the ICA Regional Assembly for the Americas. The President of the Organisation of Co-operatives of America (OCA), Dr. Armando Tovar Parada, described how co-operatives in Latin America were passing through a transition period in terms of challenges and opportunities. The ICA President, Lars Marcus, spoke of the global role of ICA and of the importance of co-operatives in the current world environment. A letter from the President-elect of the Republic of Brazil, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, expressing the support of his government for the important role of co-operatives, was read by Roberto Rodrigues. The ICA Vice-President (Americas region), Roberto Rodrigues, described the new ICA structure as an attempt to respect diversity within the world-wide co-operative movement. The state Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Synval Guazzelli, described how co-operatives represent 10 percent of the Brazilian population and are especially important in the agricultural sector. The Governor of the State of Sao Paulo, Dr. Luiz Antonio Fleury Filho, spoke of the importance of co-operatives in a modern economy. Official Business The Chairman of the Regional Assembly, Roberto Rodrigues, again welcomed delegates and observers to the meeting. The Agenda of the meeting was approved. The Delegates and Representatives of National and International member organisations introduced themselves. The draft Regional Assembly Rules were presented and discussed. After interventions from Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, OCA, and ALCECOOP, the draft Rules were approved, with the following additions: - The newly-established Consultative Committee should consist of one representative per ICA-member-country and international member organisation in the region, as well as the ICA Vice-President. - The President of the Consultative Committee, and of the Regional Assembly, should be the ICA Vice-President from the region. - The President should be able to appoint a substitute from among members of the Committee to act on his behalf. - The Consultative Committee should normally meet twice each year. The implications of the new ICA structure in the Americas region were presented by the ICA Director-General, Bruce Thordarson. He said that the Regional Office should in the future have a pan-American perspective, be less donor-oriented, and regard itself as a network to support the work of regional organisations, specialised bodies, and members. Co-operative Principles and Values Dr. Ian MacPherson described the current review of the Co-operative Principles, which is designed to result in a Co-operative Declaration and identity statement that will be approved by the 1995 Centennial Congress. Comments were provided by Armando Tovar Parada (OCA), Norberto Falcon (Co-operative League of Puerto Rico), and Miguel Cardoza (CUDECOOP, Uruguay). Human Resource Development Dr. Arturo Munoz of ALCECOOP presented a detailed paper on the important issues facing co-operatives in the field of human resource development. Comments were provided by Ulises Alfaro (Costa Rica) and Roberto DiMegglio (ILO). Co-operative Business and Trade Marcos Sawaya Jank of the University of Sao Paulo presented a paper on the opportunities for improved co-operative participation in joint ventures and international trade. Comments were provided by Felix Cristia (CCC-CA), David Miller (NCBA, U.S.A.), and Lynden Hillier (CCA, Canada). OCB and the Brazilian Co-operative Movement The OCB President, Dejandir Dalpasquale, described the important role played by co-operatives in Brazil. He presented awards to distinguished Brazilian leaders, including the first president of OCB, Dr. Antonio Rodrigues. Reports from ICA Specialised Bodies Yves Regis, President of CICOPA, described the work of CICOPA-AMERICA LATINA in the southern cone region. Barb Miller, member of the Women's Committee, proposed that a Women in the Americas Congress should be held in conjunction with the 1996 ICA Regional Assembly. Juan Carlos Romano of the International Co-operative Banking Association's Latin American committee, spoke about the initiation of business contacts between co-operative banks in Latin America and Europe. Americo Utumi, Secretary of the Agriculture Committee, described the committee's work in developing a data bank on members' products and exchange of personnel to explore commercial possibilities. Hans Dahlberg, chief executive of the International Co-operative and Mutual Insurance Federation, described the importance of insurance in economic development and the 10 core functions of ICMIF. Reports from International Organisations Ghislain Paradis, Director-General of the Desjardins Development Society (SDID), congratulated the ICA Regional Office and its Regional Director on the significant accomplishments during the last five years. Juan Jose Barrera of the Instituto Nacional de Formento de la Economia Social, Spain, described some of the emerging links between Latin America and Europe. Manuel Marino of the Swedish Co-operative Centre said that ICA is playing an important role in Latin America and that SCC intends to sign a 3-year agreement for institutional support. Lynden Hillier, Executive Director of the Canadian Co-operative Association, said that CCA's international development activities were based on the concept of partnership, and that the organisation has a major interest in trade promotion. Conclusions of the Workshops Rapporteurs described the issues and conclusions which had emerged during the half-day workshops held on the three themes of Co-operative Principles, Human Resource Development, and Co-operative Business and Trade. Two representatives of university students who participated as observers in the Assembly gave their impressions of the meeting and of the need to increasingly combine co-operative theory and practise. Roberto Rodrigues noted that all the reports led to the conclusion that co-operatives needed to make significant changes in their working procedures, while maintaining their social commitment, in order to be more economically efficient. ICA had to ensure that its own activities did not overlap with those of other organisations. Election of Consultative Committee The Chairman said that, as it was unlikely that all member organisations could immediately designate their representative for the Consultative Committee, these nominations should be sent to him before the end of 1994. He would then convoke a meeting of the Committee as soon as possible, hopefully during the first quarter of 1995. This procedure was accepted. Presentation of ICA in the Americas Juan Diego Pacheco, Regional Director of ROCAC, described the progress of the work of the Regional Office for Central America and the Caribbean since its establishment five years earlier. Cristina Simone, Director of POBA, described the Project Office in Buenos Aires as a product and instrument of the new ICA structure, available to help co-operatives in the Southern Cone. Conclusion Jimmy Lopez of Puerto Rico emphasised the important role of the Specialised Organisations as focal points in the region. Roberto Rodrigues agreed that ICA's role was to assist them, to coordinate activities as desired, and to act in areas not covered by others. Armando Tovar Parada presented, on behalf of the OCA Board, a motion that ICA should in the future have one office for the whole continent, with project offices in sub-regions depending on needs and resources, and that the location of the Regional Office should be decided by the Consultative Committee. Following interventions from the Chairman, Argentina, Uruguay, Puerto Rico, Chile, and Canada, it was agreed by vote (7 in favour and 6 opposed) to accept the motion as presented by OCA. Roberto Rodrigues summarised the decision, noting that major policy issues with financial implications such as this would have to be referred to the ICA Board or General Assembly for final decision. Roberto Talleres of Mexico asked for the floor in order to express his full support for the work of the Chairman, Roberto Rodrigues. Luis Arturo Munoz of ALCECOOP asked ICA to take steps to protect the rainbow flag as a co-operative symbol. Closing The ICA President, Lars Marcus, expressed his satisfaction at the progress made by the Regional Assembly, whose views would have a major impact on the role of the Regional Office in the future. The Regional Assembly Chairman, Roberto Rodrigues, expressed thanks to CCA, to the participants, to the Ministry of Agriculture, to the ICA-ROCAC staff, to the interpreters, and to the staff of the Latin American Parliament for their contributions to a successful meeting. The Assembly was closed.