New ICA President sets the international co-operative agenda (1997)

This document has been made available in electronic format
by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA)
Oct, 1997
(Source: Asia-Pacific Co-op News, Vol.4, No.3, Jul-Sept. 1997, pp.10)

New ICA President sets the international co-operative agenda

Roberto Rodrigues was recently elected ICA President at the ICA
General Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.  He was born in Brazil in
1942 and became director of a sugar cane planters co-operative in 1971.
In 1985, he was elected president of the Organisation of the Brazilian
Co-operatives for two consecutive mandates (1985 to 1991). He founded
and presided over the EXIMCOOP (1990 to 1993), a co-operative
trading company.  Elected ICA Vice-president for the Americas in 1992,
he was also chair of ICA's agriculture committee from 1992 to 1995.

The following is an excerpt from his inaugural speech on Sept. 16, 1997.
"ICA needs to be a co-operative network which organisations will want
to join in the search for benefits to their members.  ICA must create
personal, organisational, commercial and electronic bonds among our
members:  this is one of ICA's duties, the reason for its existence - to
serve its members.

I will send to our members a proposal for four basic ideas which I believe
can be one of the tasks of ICA's presidency.

To define those ideas, I have taken into consideration that it is necessary
to maintain what has been established so successfully by Graham
Melmoth.  These ideas serve as the guidelines I will submit to all members
so I can incorporate their suggestions for improvement.  I will discuss
them with the new board elected today soon after this Assembly and with
the staff of Geneva and the regional directors and with the leaders of the
specialised organisations afterwards.

The priorities are:
-	strengthening of the co-operative identity
-	specialisation and integration
-	participation of women and young people
-	Africa as a geographical region

The co-operative identity, the singleness of its interpretation, regardless
of sectors, regions or countries is our original strength.  Our doctrinal
platform is our distinction and it is fundamental that co-operative practice
be carried out under the concept of our doctrine all over the world.

The specialisation theme is fundamental in the global economy, not
specifying the demands, be they from the producers or consumers. It is
necessary to find efficient ways of meeting such demands within the
specialised sectors. But the specialised sectors must also integrate,
strengthen and promote the principles.

It is necessary to integrate, with our entrepreneurial efforts, the financial,
service and technological sectors, as well as human resources and gender.
We'll move toward this direction, approaching sectors and regions, and in
order to achieve it, we count on the eleven specialised organisations of ICA
and four committees dedicated to specific subjects.  The idea is doing
business inside the co-operative movement.

As for the participation of women and young people, our progress in the
American continent indicates that we are not dealing with a matter of social
sensitivity;  it is a matter of organisational strategy, a combination of the
utmost political, economic and social elements of the co-operative
organisation.  In the case of the young we have to ask ourselves, what is
the future of a social movement without young people?

Africa is our main geographical challenge as far as co-operative
development is concerned.  A big challenge that gives us countless
opportunities.  ICA has to firmly support the improvement of the
entrepreneurial conditions of African co-operatives, strengthening
them to be independent and autonomous institutions.  This the
Africans' task and we have to support them in the name of
co-operative values and solidarity.

Dear fellow co-operators, these are the ideas to pass on to you. I have
wanted to show the person in its smallness before the challenges, but
also the unbreakable faith in our union and principles as a way of facing
up to them."