Report of the ICCO Plenary Session, Prague, October 1994

   This document has been made available in electronic format
           by the International Co-operative Alliance.


                       PLENARY SESSION
                   Prague, October 25, 1994



"International Joint Project on Cooperative Democracy" 

     Report presented by Iain MacDonald, Membership Development
     Officer, CWS-Scottish Co-op, UK


     Giuseppe Fabretti 
          Chairman, International Consumer Co-operatives
     George Cunninghan
          Member of Board, Co-operative Union Ltd., UK
     Lloyd Wilkinson
          Chief Executive, Cooperative Union Ltd, UK
     Guruzguiev Kuzman
          Consumer Co-operative Union, Bulgaria 
     Graham J. Melmoth
          Vice-President, ICA Europe


"Consumer Cooperative Guidelines"

     Giuseppe Fabretti
     Guruzguiev Kuzman
     Lloyd Wilkinson
     Ian MacPherson
          Professor of History and Dean University of Victoria,
     George Cunninghan


"Cooperative Agenda 21 - Consumer Sector"

     Giuseppe Fabretti
     Anne Buch Jorgensen
          Secretary General of Chairman's Office, FDB, Denmark

Other partecipants:

* ALEMAN Jaime               UNCCVE, Spain
* AL - AWADHI Farif M.N.     UCCS, Kuwait  
* BELFIORI Antonella         Secretary of ICCO
* CEBALLO Ana Jsabel         UNCCVE, Spain 
* DABRUNZ Manfred            BVK - Germany
* DONS Lene                  FDB, Denmark
* HOULTON Robert             CWS, UK
* ITKONEN Raija              FCCA, Finland
* JOLIVET Patrice            FNCC, France
* LAGERKVIST Britten         KF, Sweden
* LEES Moira                 CWS, UK
* MARINARI Marinella         ICCO Secretariat
* MACDONAGH Gregor           CWS, UK
* MOUTAFOVA Svetla           CCU, Bulgaria
* OHYA Masao                 JCCU, Japan
* SCHOENE Albrecht           Secretary General, EUROCOOP


     International Joint Project

     Consumer Co-operatives Guidelines

     Cooperative Agenda 21 - Consumer Sector


Chairman, International Consumer Co-operatives Organisation

Thank you for having participated in our Plenary Session. The
agenda of the day, as you already know, includes the following
three points:  the first is the update that Mr. Macdonald will
give us on the state of the International Joint Project that a
series of cooperatives is elaborating at the international level;
the second concerns a document that has already been sent  to you
on Consumer Cooperatives Guidelines which will represent our
contribution to a vaster document of the International
Cooperative Alliance; the third is the evaluation of a  document
on environmental problems, the  famous Cooperative Agenda 21 for
which action was taken by the 1992 Tokyo Congress and later by
the Rio World Summit.

If you agree, we can begin our work.

I leave the floor to Mr. Macdonald who will illustrate the state
of the art of the work carried out up to now together with our
friends in Japan, Italy, Sweden, Canada and the United Kingdom
on cooperative democracy in the 21st century,  the participation
of members and a confrontation among the various experiences
matured internationally on these points.

  Membership Development Officer, CWS - Scottish Co-op, UK

I am the official in charge of  membership development for 
Scottish Co-op that in terms of sales outlets is the most
authoritative retail food cooperative.  It is an immense
opportunity for us to present our Project on this occasion which
we think, and I am sure that the President will agree, is very
important both for us and for the entire cooperative movement. 
I will give you detailed information on this project beginning
by illustrating the guidelines of the document, its contents and
structure and the way in which we intend to present it at the 
Manchester Congress;  I will present the themes and the proposals
for the functioning of democracy which represents the main
purpose of the report; I will briefly discuss the five case
studies that we are bringing forth in each country and, lastly,
I will explain how we intend to present the entire document at
the ICA Congress next year.

I must confess that I am no expert on cooperative organisations,
but the basic idea is that of seeking an exchange of experiences. 
In 1980, during the Moscow conference, Doctor Laidlaw expressed
concern regarding the movement's ideological crisis, a concern
later manifested also by Doctor Marcus in 1988 who proposed four
basic values for the future of cooperation.  We must also focus
on the enormous work recently conducted by Mr. Sven-Ake Book on
the principles and future values of cooperation.

Next year, Professor Ian MacPherson who is with us today, will
present a document at the Congress on how we must act in the
future. We consider our work as being complementary to that
conducted by Ian MacPherson insofar as our principle task is to
demonstrate the importance of participatory democracy in the
modern cooperative movement and, perhaps even more important, how
it can be put into practice in order to be adopted by the
cooperative organisations starting from the year 2000.

The Project was initiated by Co-op Kanagawa in Yokohama which
today I am representing by substituting its President, Mr.
Yamagishi who was the first to discuss the Project with the
Swedish Institute for Cooperative Research and Development and
to establish the first contacts with Canadian Co-op researchers,
with the Retail Cooperative Sales Company in Great Britain and
with the Italian Association of Consumer Cooperatives.  Together
with our Japanese and Swedish colleagues, we have formulated this
project.  The first phase was elaborated in Japan during the last
ICA Congress and it was then that we decided to divide the
project into two phases:  the first consisting in how to develop
the various activities of the members and their participation;
the second being how to innovate cooperative democracy.

We decided that research and case studies must be carried out be
each country without being limited to cooperative practice, but
also considering all the social and economic aspects of each
country, namely: peace, environment, lifestyle, professions,
member activities and participation.  We also intend to reform
some of our practices and the role of employees in cooperative
companies.  Furthermore, we intend to practically develop the 
policies for member activities and the organisational structures
for the cooperative bodies throughout the world.

As I said earlier, the project's main purpose is to diversify
participation and member activities and innovate participatory

Professor MacPherson is among those involved.

We have already met him twice in Yokohama, once in Stockholm and
once in Scotland at the Robert Owen's Village in New Lanark which
is one of the most famous cooperative centres in the world.  Up
to now we have concurred on the draft of the document's index and
we believe we have a profound knowledge of mutual experiences and
activities;  we also met with active members in our countries and
concurred on the first four parts of the document.

The index which I illustrated explains in detail  the way in
which the document has been organised; as you will see, the
introduction indicates the three principal themes I mentioned
earlier:  developments for the International Joint Project and
the document's structure and purpose. The first part of the
document, which is also the main one, is formed by five important
chapters:  the methodology we will use to resolve difficulties
we are facing; the basic values of the cooperatives and the
participatory democracy; the cooperative's position in society; 
cooperative identity; participatory democracy.

We have identified five fundamental themes on the development and
innovation of participatory democracy. Personally, I find these
matters rather complicated, but I believe this derives from the
fact that in drawing up the Project, we are using at least three 
different languages and I am sure that this is a problem common
to all international committees.

The first theme is the innovation of member activities and the
participation in management based on participatory democracy. 
In order to understand the true meaning of this point, it is
necessary to look to the needs of the members and to the role of
the cooperatives' organisation as well as to the new member
activities that have developed in many parts of the world in
cooperative organisations and the participation in the
decision-making process of members and employees.

The second point regards the organisational structure
corresponding to the participatory democracy and a system which
allows participating in such a structure.  This means attempting
to focus our attention on the ideas of the first theme.  Perhaps
we have been particularly inclined to highlight the third part
of the first theme:  how to develop participation of members and
employees in the decision-making process of cooperative
companies.  We also intend to encourage the participation of
employees in such decision-making processes. We wish to be
certain that cooperative organisations develop a system of
communications that is comprehensible within the organisations,
so that employees and members can understand the organisation for
which they work.  We also understand the need to develop training
methods particularly for the members of cooperative organisations
so as to be able to carry out a fundamental role.  Lastly, we
believe that trade unions must also be considered for what
concerns the consumer cooperatives' decision-making power.

The third theme regards economic and social responsibility.  We
have not yet completed research on any of these themes, but
perhaps this one requires the greatest reflection on our part
since we are highly concerned with the problem of environmental
responsibility and its ethical implications.  This issue is
obviously closely linked to Agenda 21 and the responsibilities
that the Rio de Janeiro statements raised for all the economic,
social and government organisations.  We believe that with its
ideological and philosophical base, the cooperative movement  has
provided an enormous contribution and we will take various
examples from different countries to see what has been done.
We also aim at encouraging the organisations of consumers to
search for a social review system in order to clarify social

The fourth theme concerns employees and management.  We are also
involved in assuring that our executives are connected with the
democratic structure and understand the practical and
philosophical purposes that underlie the need to pursue and
support a democratic structure.  We believe that member training
and education, which I referred to earlier, must be pursued also
for what concerns employees and that the consumer cooperatives
must have a system that is professionally developed so as to
guarantee that all employees are experts and that principles are

The fifth and last theme is my favourite:  the essence of being
a cooperative in a new society.  This is certainly the project's
principal philosophical purpose whose importance we have
emphasised linking the various forms of cooperation, work,
building, etc. and every other form of cooperative enterprise
that exists in our country, in Europe and throughout the world. 
Perhaps this makes us think of one of the original objectives
which is that of reaching a sort of Cooperative Commonwealth, or
also of the British Labourite Party which attempts to render our
way of thinking modern and to update the words we use to describe
the cooperative future. This raises interest and admiration in
our apanese colleagues since we make sure that the ideological
aspect of our work is not lost in developing practical
objectives. I wish to briefly describe the four elements of our
project present in each case study conducted by the single
countries which are involved.

Every organisation carries out the case study in a different way
and since research has not yet been completed, I will only make
a brief  mention.  First of all, our Swedish colleagues work
jointly with the KF in Sweden to ensure their participation in
the Project;  Alf Carlsson, who collaborated with us in this
project, is one of the victims of the recent maritime disaster
in Sweden.  This represented a terrible loss for us and for the
Movement.  I am sure that Carlsson would have wished for us to
continue the project he deemed so important.  He had already 
prepared a case study entitled Participatory Democracy and Member
Involvement in Present and Future Swedish Cooperatives.  This
study is correlated by an update of the situation regarding the
KF Svea, the KF Stockholm and by ideas and suggestions introduced
by the so-called MK committee that is the committee organised
recently following the numerous reforms introduced within the
Swedish movement.  This study  will  certainly  be  most 
important for our final document.

In Canada we have a different approach, the members of the
Canadian group are all academic professors and today we have one
of their representatives with us.  Each one of these professors
is involved in cooperative organisations and what is very
important is that they can speak as both activists in the 
cooperative field and as academicians. Presently, ur colleague
Leslie Brown of Nova Scotia has written a study on member
participation in the Atlantic Co-op, on the Eastern coast of
Canada, which is a two tier cooperative that deals with wholesale
of consumer items, feedstuff and oil, in addition to being a
supplier of goods and services for its members.  It is also
involved in building cooperatives and has strong ties with credit
cooperatives, therefore carrying out a highly useful role for our
Project.  Co-op Atlantic has nearly 900 employees, while its 160
member coops have 5,000 and properties amount to 96 million

I have hesitated to describe the Italian  cooperative movement
which needs no introduction.  We work with our Italian colleagues
of the National Association of Consumer Cooperatives and my
colleague Ferini has prepared an extensive report on all the 
aspects of Italian society and in particular, of the cooperative
movement, regarding the results of their last congress and the
proposals for changes.  Following recent political changes, this
is a particularly difficult moment for Italian cooperation.  I
know in fact, that the Italian  Prime Minister is unfavourable
towards the cooperative movement. A highly interesting aspect in
Italy is the level of participation in elections which is
certainly the highest among  the five countries and quite
different with respect to all other experiences.

It is difficult to present the Japanese contribution in such a
short period of time.  The Japanese are conducting research on
the development of Co-op Kanagawa in Yokohama and it is thanks 
to their experiences that the Japanese Cooperatives have
registered a considerable increase in the '80s and '90s, but
since then they have begun to experience some difficulties.  One
of the major differences of their experience arises from the han
groups that are typical of Japanese cooperatives whose base is
formed by different individuals of Japanese society and by the
way in which community spirit works in Japan.  Co-op Kanagawa has
920,000 members, thirty per cent of which is organised into these
groups.  The fact that Japanese law requires for customers to be
also members has lead to both advantages and disadvantages.  In
fact, the participatory structures has registered a decline in
interest in recent years with a 40% decrease of participation in
han groups, which used to be of 80%.  They are now faced with a
declining situation which is a reason of great concern.  On the
part of the private enterprises, strong pressure exists in  Japan
which consists in a greater offer with respect to the needs that
are met and this has had considerable impact on the commercial
activities of cooperative companies.  There is a trend towards
individualism and a greater awareness with respect to
environmental problems; there are many women who work outside  
their homes and this represents an entirely new phenomena in
Japan. The greatest part of active members is now represented by

Lastly, with regard to the analytical study, the project I wish
to dwell on the most is the one in Great Britain.  As I explained
earlier, it has been decided that the experience had by our
retail sales sector in Scotland, known as the Scottish Co-op,
should be the only one used in our case study.  Nearly eight
years ago we were faced with a situation in which there existed
no participatory activity in Scotland, the reason for which we
decided to cancel our membership, re-hire personnel and register
new members in the sales outlets.  We began to achieve results
that clearly could not be found in other countries; the area
which registered the greatest success was "Lochaber" where no
cooperative activity  existed, but which now reaches
participatory activity of nearly five thousand people.  The 
local committees carried out an important role in developing and
opening new superstores and in creating mixed groups formed by
young people and politicians linked with the economic and social
infrastructures of that area.  The involvement of members in that
areas and in Scotland takes place in two annual meetings with
over one hundred members who elect their branch committees and
who in turn, elect the town board of directors.  

There are also the regional committees that meet on a monthly
basis.  Each branch committee organises groups of men,
politicians, environmentalists and also groups for the training
and education of members.  Lastly, I would like to indicate the
challenges we must face in view of the Congress to be held next

Among other things, a meeting of the Project will be held between
the end of November and the beginning of December in New Moncton
in Canada and by that date we should have the complete draft
document. The meeting will be held in the area where Co-op
Atlantic operates and I presented the case study earlier.  The
final stage of this Project will take place in Florence, Italy
at the end of March.  We will then visit the areas interested in
the Project in order to better understand the problems and
success of the cooperative movement in these areas.

We intend to present the document at the ICA Congress that will
be held in Manchester in 1995 through the reports given by a
speaker from each country involved.  Let's hope to be able to
speak at the General Assembly.  We also believe that greater
informal discussions are necessary and will therefore hold a
symposium in our cooperative College in Loughborough in Great
Britain prior  to the ICA Congress and all the delegates will
soon be receiving an invitation. I hope that the forum of
researchers and the Consumer Committee will devote some of their
time to discuss the proposals and the document's final
suggestions.  We hope the English version of the document will
be printed in time.  

I would like to conclude by reminding you that the structure of
the document's final version will be that of a packet that we
will be able to use throughout the movement in various different
ways, particularly from an educational and commercial point of

The index will be an important aspect of the document as will be
the summary which in my opinion is the most read part of any
lengthy document.  We try to render it as practical as possible
in order  to allow employees and members to have access to new
ideas and to a new way of thinking that is part of democracy in
the millennium to come.  I hope you will agree on the fact that
our project is important and that this document will highlight
how democracy and commercial success go hand in hand and are
something toward which we must work together in order to achieve
these goals.



Before opening the discussion on the report presented by Mr.
Macdonald, I have the pleasure of greeting Mr. Melmoth, vice
president of the European Assembly of the International
Cooperative Alliance who, despite his commitments, has found time
for us.  I would also like to thank our friend Mr. Schoene,
Eurocoop's General Secretary, who has always given an
authoritative and important contribution to our meetings.  As you
know, we have always closely collaborated with Eurocoop and we
wish to strengthen it further. I would also like to greet Prof.
MacPherson whom you already known since he is the one who is
elaborating the cooperative principles and values for the
Cooperative Alliance.  We are pleased to have him with us also
because we will discuss the document on the Guidelines and we
would much appreciate his contribution.  We will now make various
considerations on the document  presented by Mr. Macdonald.

I believe this study cannot be seen as a tribute owed by
cooperators to the cooperative principles, but must be considered
as a commitment to revitalise and renew cooperative participation
today.  We must always remember that democracy is the essence of
the cooperative organisation.  The support of our members, which
is fundamental to our cooperatives, is not heaven sent, but must
be conquered daily not only with declarations based on good
intentions, but by offering a true democratic organisation and
participation.  The study being carried out by Mr. Macdonald
together with our Italian, Japanese, Canadian and Swedish friends
is an attempt to be supported as I believe it is very important
for our future.

At this point I wish to open the discussion to those who wish to
offer considerations and comments on what Mr. Macdonald has just

I would like to add that our last congress in New Lanark
(Scotland) was organised on the basis of workshops that developed
the 5 themes I mentioned earlier. It was useful to us because the
various different organisations represented were capable of
providing suggestions and ideas on how to develop those
particular themes. One of the reasons for which we are here is
to learn about ideas and thoughts that our colleagues from other
countries could have on problems that we may have misunderstood;
therefore, any observation or comment not only on the document,
but also on the different directions we may take will be most

Member of the Board, Co-operative Union Ltd., UK 

In congratulating myself with the commendable work performed by
our colleague Ian Macdonald, in collaboration with other
colleagues, I wish to emphasise that contrary to what is stated
in the third point, the activities of members and the
participation in management must not be viewed as two separate
aspects, one excluding the other, since I am certain that one of
the themes, and I share the concern expressed by the Japanese
cooperators, is that we have very large organisations therefore
it is important that members, through elections and democracy, 
exert an influence on the management and can actually control the

Company management is an aspect of this; therefore, I wish to
have you confirm that member activities are extremely important. 

You too have been involved in them and should admit that the
control of management is fundamental.  


I think I can confirm this.

However, as I explained earlier, this theme is supported by our
Japanese colleagues who are very much interested in developing
a new relationship between management and employees and wish to
avoid establishing a type  of management that ignores their

Perhaps the most important idea in order to be able to consider
this theme is that of looking towards new and unexplored forms
of democracy based on partnership rather than on the control  
of one another.  One of the most interesting examples to follow
is that set by Mr. Yamagishi who is at the same time president
and CEO of Co-op Kanagawa.  As a national leader, he sees his 
main job as supporting and developing the participatory democracy
and, in order of power, gives second place to the management of
sales outlets.  The Japanese are absolutely right.

We have conceived this Project to face the difficulties which
have arisen in the past few years with respect to members, in the
attempt to successfully manage any type of cooperative
organisation in all of Great Britain.  But the Japanese try to
see things from another point of view and wish to combine both
concerns in a very interesting way since as I said earlier, the 
old method does not represent the only one to go ahead.


My main concern is that confusion is created with respect to
these important problems.  Fundamentally, the members are the
managers of the enterprise and the executive managers run the
enterprise full time.  If, however, we decide to be innovative,
we must be careful not to confuse and obscure this image,
otherwise this would represent a reason of great concern to me
and I am also convinced that numerous other organisations would
agree with me.

Chief Executive, Co-operative Union Ltd., UK

With regard to theme no. 5 which Ian considers very important,
I would like to know, or have some information, concerning the
way in which new societies are seen by the five individual
countries and what type of situations they are confronted with.


Every case study uses the five themes differently in order to
develop them as best as possible. As Mr. Cunningham stated, each
country sees them in a different way and the aim of this Project
is to unite them. There exists a growing need on our part to face
the diversity of the cooperative enterprise within our society
and demonstrate how an alternative form exists with respect to
the established forms of enterprise and how our old expression
of "cooperative Commonwealth" has not disappeared but rather can
be recreated in many different ways. This is how the problem can
be faced. However, as I stated earlier, this does not represent
the final phase, but my proposition consists in going ahead, in
seeking new ways in which this relationship can find a solution
and respond to the problems that afflict our society.

Guruzguiev KUZMAN  
Consumer Co-operatives Union, Bulgaria 

Ladies and gentlemen, President, even though I did not receive
this document in time, I can see  a strong attempt to highlight
the problems of modern cooperatives.

I would like to present two of my considerations:  first of all,
it is necessary to speak of an internal cooperative democracy 
or rather, it would be even better to speak of a total
cooperative democracy. In my opinion cooperative democracy as a
general idea must be detached from reality, from these specific
forms that exist in reality only under the form of different
branch cooperatives; secondly, I believe that the International
Joint Project on cooperative democracy is incomplete in its five

I am unable to see important elements within cooperative
democracy: for example, the  problem of elections, of controlling
management on the part of cooperators.  I feel that these five
problems do not reflect the entire picture of cooperative
democracy.  Therefore, I feel it is necessary to solve these
problems so that they may be inserted into a new framework. 
Furthermore, the problem of cooperative democracy is of vital
importance for the Central and Eastern European regions and I
don't know whether the working groups have conducted research on
these areas in order to examine the development of such problems
before and after the changes that took place.

I am of the opinion that this problem should be connected with
the document prepared by the working group 1 directed by Mr.
Reimer Volkers which speaks of company management and control
systems.  I believe that in Manchester we will suggest various
different documents to be adopted but it will be necessary at
that point to receive collaboration from all the different

I would also like to add that we should intervene and express our
points of view on the remaining problems included in the agenda. 
Lastly, I would like to tell the President that the consumer
committee should accept the denomination adopted by the Tokyo
Congress:  International Consumer Cooperative Organisation and
no longer the name Consumer Committee, since up to now the
committee has determined the direction taken by the activities
carried out by  this organisation and these themes will prevail
in the upcoming sections since they are linked to  the themes
regarding consumers and environmental issues.

I would also like to congratulate the new leadership of the
organisation in the person of  Mr. Fabretti who has marked an
important moment in cooperative work by raising significant
questions linked to the consumer cooperatives.  I shall not go
on any further but hope to have the possibility of making
additional contributions later.

Graham J. MELMOTH  
Vice President, ICA EUROPE

Our Bulgarian friend has recalled the way in which we are
preparing for the next Congress; he also mentioned the work 
carried out by the working group 1 which, among the various
specific themes, is concerned with the company government.  This
will be part of the European regional document and there will
also be a document prepared from each individual region and the
principal themes discussed by the Congress will be the
development of human resources and cooperative principles.

The initiative taken by Mr. Yamagishi on participatory democracy
will be discussed by the Congress; such initiative has started 
the Project and has encouraged the five consumer movements to
participate.  I would also like to state that the initiatives for
the Centennial have been coordinated very well, just as the work
performed by the four regions, the world considerations and the
discussions on the cooperative principles and participatory
democracy.  I believe the authors of this Project do not have the
answers to all the problems of the modern cooperative companies,
therefore as many solutions as possible are welcome.


President, I would like to briefly refer to the comment made by
our Bulgarian friend on elections.  I accept the idea that they
have not been included up to now as much as they should have been
as part of theme 2.  The organisational structures that we wish
to suggest for participatory democracy must naturally include the
elections and the way in which these are organised.  I will, 
however, inform the Secretary and we will include this comment
in our report.


Giuseppe FABRETTI  

Very well.  I too would like to say something about Mr.
Kurziman's comments.  This document, just like all the studies
conducted in this world, is a document to be taken as a general
indication and not as gospel truth. Five important countries
participate in this Project and it would have been impossible and
very tedious to conduct a study with all of them. I believe that
these five countries organise tens of thousands of cooperator
members who represent 60/70 per cent of the cooperative reality
of world-wide consumers. We believe these countries represent a
valid sample with different facets, but it is clear that any
contribution from those countries that have not been included in
the study is most welcome and much appreciated by Mr. Macdonald. 
This document should be considered as a general basis of
behaviour for the consumer cooperatives to be adapted and not as
a document intended to overturn the individual national
situations.  However, any contribution offered to this Project
is important and it is good that it receives the widest possible
consensus since only in this way can it be taken into

I would like to thank Mr. Macdonald for his exposition and also
for the work performed until now. We will thank him again next
year in Manchester with the hope that he will be able to present
the final document.  He will be most welcome if he chooses to
remain with us.

Two issues have to be dealt with now: the cooperative   
principles of the consumer cooperation and Agenda 21 on the
environmental policy of the consumer cooperatives.  On both
topics you received a report prepared in collaboration with the 
members of the Executive Committee and which the Executive
Committee examined during a meeting held this morning.  Both
documents  were considered as being valid and therefore to be
submitted to the International Cooperative Alliance as scheduled. 
Some changes must be made that will render the document  on the
Guidelines clearer. If you agree, I would like to summarise as
synthetically as possible the document and recall which are the
fundamental concepts on principles. I would then like to hear
your opinions so that we may draw up the final version and send
the text to the International Cooperative Alliance so that it may
be included  in the document that the Alliance itself is

In drawing up this document --which has already been sent to all
the members of the Executive Committee and of the Plenary
Session--- and in the discussion held with the members of the
Executive Committee, we were guided by the philosophy of how to
implement the cooperative principles for 2000's and how to
concretely harmonise the principles of consumer cooperation with
ICA's more general ones which Mr. MacPherson is elaborating.

We started from the consideration that our activity is more  
complex than just being distributors and therefore we have     
summarised our responsibilities in the following ten points: 
towards members and participatory democracy, towards consumers, 
employees, suppliers, towards the public institutions, the 
environment, ideas, the global human heritage and commercial
operations.  The document synthetically explains how we view
these responsibilities and I will now summarise them for you.

We discussed the responsibility of members at length with Mr.
Macdonald and we feel that active participation, involvement and
control of the members on the overall management represent a
fundamental and irreplaceable  aspect of cooperation.

For us, the responsibility towards consumers consists in 
concretely responding to these two needs:  protecting the
purchasing power of the less affluent classes; guaranteeing the
quality of the product as a protection of the consumer's health;
guaranteeing correct information in order to render the consumer
more autonomous and aware in making his purchases.

The responsibility towards employees does not only mean
guaranteeing their labour contract, but also protecting their
jobs  even though we find ourselves experiencing difficult times. 
Additionally, it is necessary to see how we can introduce
flexibility and mobility also through training.  Lastly, it is
a question of  getting more employees involved in our commercial
distribution activities by having them understand that working
for a cooperative is something quite different than working for
a private firm. Therefore, their attitude must also be different
from that undertaken by employees in private organisations.

Responsibility exists towards suppliers with regard to
transparency on the market. We must concretely support the firms
that are committed to producing more quality and our support must
also go to all the manufacturers and producers who use
environmentally safe methods.

At this point we must introduce the important issue we all know: 
the environment.  We must be active in this field particularly
since through our commitment we may succeed in urging
manufacturers to revitalise the development of their production
through an eco-compatible system.  This naturally also holds true
for ourselves:  stores, ways of acting; transportation,
everything we do must be aimed towards devoting greater attention
to environmental problems.

Our responsibility towards our heritage and ideals is very clear: 
without an economic heritage there would be no cooperative,
without an idealistic heritage there would be no cooperative,
therefore we must develop each one of these aspects.  I believe
the discussion on cooperative principles now leads us also to
consider this aspect.

The last consideration is the responsibility towards valid
commercial activity since without an economically healthy company
there would be no cooperative movement.  Our difficulty lies in
the fact of achieving two objectives that are theoretically two
opposites: obtaining positive company results while maintaining
a social policy which means a lower cost policy for the consumer.

In brief, this is the sense of the document to which  we  ask 
you to make all the changes you feel are necessary.

Guruzguiev KUZMAN 
Consumer Co-operatives Union, Bulgaria

I would like to know if this document will make a contribution
to our organisation and to Mr. MacPherson's work.  If so, I
believe it is incomplete. Certain principles are not mentioned
and I feel that in a document of this kind we have the duty
assigned to us by the Tokyo Congress of elaborating the sectorial
directives. This document fails to contain sectorial directives. 
This is why I suggest that, together with Mr. MacPherson's
report, our sectorial directives be also elaborated. In this way
the conditions will be laid down to help Mr. MacPherson in
elaborating principles and values.

I believe this document that also included regulations and
directives was previously adopted by the credit cooperatives. 
If this committee deems it appropriate, I would like to suggest
forming an ad hoc working group.  Cooperative principles are
closely linked to the principles of consumer cooperatives and the
cooperative movements in other sectors are not included.
Personally, I would like to insist that this document must follow
the Tokyo resolutions and that our task is to elaborate
regulations and directives.

Giuseppe FABRETTI  

I would like to reply to Mr. Kurziman.

I believe that the document regarding the Guidelines of the
Consumer Cooperatives Sector contains the observations you have
made.  However, I wish to point out that this meeting was called
particularly to collect your observations and comments to be
included in the document itself.

Guruzguiev KUZMAN  

If this is a document that should explain the principles of the
cooperatives the title should not be: guidelines.  If we adopt
this document, how  can we explain certain regulations, for
example, for those who work in the consumer cooperatives?  Are
they valid only for members or also for non-members?  In which
way must  the cooperative work for the non-members?  There is
nothing of this nature.  We were unable to find anything
regarding the problem of dividends.  Other norms and regulations
also exist which the consumer cooperatives observe in addition
to the general principles.

Now I would like to speak briefly about Bulgaria: a new law was
passed on the basis of which all the cooperatives are equal since
this law did not include different names for the different forms 
of cooperation.  This is why I believe that this consumer
committee should prepare such a document, otherwise sectorial
diversification will remain unclear.  I would like to suggest to
the institutions to include such specific points within the
European statute of the cooperatives.

Giuseppe FABRETTI  

Very well.  Before leaving the floor to Lloyd Wilkinson and then
to Prof. MacPherson, I believe every contribution made is
important and I would like to invite our Bulgarian friend to
submit his comments on how he sees the integration of this
document; we will take his observations into account and will
examine the possibility of including them.


I am fully satisfied with the extensive structure  of this
document which seems to follow the ideas expressed by the
committee in these years. I feel it would be dangerous to
introduce a list of ten suggestions since they may be considered
as a priority list. For example, the reading of the text reveals
that the last point is less important while in my opinion it
should be emphasised. We are all aware that consumer cooperatives
must have valid commercial activities to reach these goals and
therefore it is necessary to have people understand that the fact
that an item occupies the last place on the list does not
indicate it is unimportant. I feel that the last place is
unsuitable and that it is necessary to insert it higher in the

Giuseppe FABRETTI  

This problem arose also this morning, but I was able to explain
it since I had more time.  I said that without a heritage the
cooperative does not exist, but in a document of cooperators, 
according to our values, members come first and consumers after. 
The other important heritage  we have is the employees, without
whom the cooperative would not exist.  From the psychological
point of view, how can  commercial activities be placed before
members and employees?  Let us say that number 10 is important
for us, but out of respect towards our members we placed it at
the end of the list.  


Yes, I understand the point, but I feel that such a list leads
one to believe that an item placed at the tenth place holds one
of the last priorities even though this is not really the case. 
The reader therefore may think that such an item is not given too
much importance.  I suggest introducing a phrase as an
introduction to the list specifying that the order of the list
does not indicate order of priorities.

Prof. of History and Dean of Humanities, University of Victoria,

First of all I would like to congratulate the President and the
Committee for the work conducted until now and I think it is an
interesting way to conceptualise the various problems.  For those
who may not know, we are preparing a list of general Principles
and each sector, for example the consumer cooperatives, will
formulate their cooperative principles and will decide how to
apply them within their organisation. A quick glance at the list
you prepared tells me that you have introduced and explored these
principles in a valid way and I encourage you to go ahead in this
direction.  I believe that by the end of the week these
principles will be defined and this will help us in the final
drawing up of the document.  An aspect which I feel was neglected
was that of the financial structure which may perhaps be
considered interesting for the consumer cooperatives.  I also
think that it would be highly useful to speak of future consumer
cooperatives and perhaps learn which challenges the XXIst century
declaration will pose for them.

Giuseppe FABRETTI   

When we speak of responsibility towards members and consumers we
are looking to our future.  It is not easy to find the answers
but we will search for them.  We are used to asking ourselves:
does the cooperative enterprise continue to be of value in the
year 2000?  We believe it does and even more so since solidarity
is much more important today than it was before.  The cooperative
form was born in the 1800's but is still extremely current.

We will, however, take your suggestion into account and I thank
you also on behalf of the Committee for your comments.

If no one else wishes to add any comments on  this topic, I
believe that with the suggestions made by Prof. MacPherson and
Mr. Wilkinson and with the comments that our Bulgarian friend
will submit, we will be able to definitively draw up this
document and hand it to ICA.


With regard to the ten points in question, I share the concern
expressed by our Bulgarian friend and I believe that the first
two are the most important.  With respect to responsibilities
towards members, in place of cooperative democracy procedures,
I would have preferred democratic principles that involve
participation.  The rest of the items, from the second point to 
the tenth one, are also shared by private competitors that are
more progressive and the only thing that distinguishes a
cooperative movement is the first aspect since Marks & Spencers,
which is world famous, is aware of this, is very successful and
responds to all the aspects indicated in the list with a great
sense of responsibility. Therefore I believe that the entire list
should be revised since I am unable to distinguish those elements
that are important from the ones that are not.

Giuseppe FABRETTI  

It seems to me that what you are saying is very important.  It
is true that from item two to item ten responsibilities are
indicated which also belong to our competitors, whether they be
private or share companies; there is one fundamental difference,
however: cooperation observes these principles and has been 
attempting to apply them for some time while private competitors
have only recently realised this which stands to demonstrate two
things:  the first is that we were right; the second is that
while the private competitors are becoming aware of these themes
only now, we risk abandoning them at  this moment in time, but
not because we have become less interested in them, but because
cooperatives are currently encountering so many difficulties that
they are often unable to follow this policy and therefore we feel
it is important to recall such elements.


I respect your ideas but do not share them. As I was saying
earlier, for years Marks & Spencer has been a model in terms  of
retribution, standards and ethical concern for consumers. 
Instead of following us, they have tried to replace us.  

Therefore I respect your opinions, but I believe that item one
is the essential element that renders us unique and different.
As cooperative employers we should observe these principles if
we wish to remain active on the market with respect to other
competitors and I mentioned Marks & Spencer as an example of  an
organisation that is well managed and very careful from an
ethical point of view.  We must demonstrate greater concern for
the ethical aspect.  If we wish to survive on the market and face
competition like the one represented by Marks & Spencer, I feel
that item one should be highlighted further with respect to all
the other points that are undoubtedly the responsibility of the

I will let you have my report presented at last year's congress
in Great Britain that will serve the purpose.


Very well, we are all convinced that highlighting the role of the
member is fundamental and it seems that you too are convinced
that we must face these responsibilities.  We will therefore 
give greater emphasis and importance to the presence of the
member.  We would like to count on your contribution and, if
possible, learn about the additions you would like to make.


Giuseppe FABRETTI  

Very well, also for what concerns environmental policies and
Agenda 21, at the Tokyo Congress in 1992 and at the Rio Summit
that same year we have undertaken the commitment to offer our
contribution as a consumer sector.

I would like to remind you that the document, which has already
been distributed to you and which I hope you have read, has a
philosophy based on two points: the first is that of promoting
consumer and production patterns capable of reducing the use of
natural resources, the second, is that of developing an awareness
that links lifestyles to a pattern of consumption that respects
the environment.  I don't know whether you have any comments to
add, but this document must be drawn up today since we must
submit it tomorrow to the ICA Secretariat.

Secretary General of Chairman's Office, FDB, Denmark

I concur with the objectives established by the document, but I
have a problem with the method.  I do not know whether the 
changes that have been made are related to the points which I 
would like to discuss and which are a reason of concern to me. 
I am referring to point C relative to ecological products.  I
think it is difficult to reach this objective and use that
method; I don't think other cooperatives can do this.  In  
Denmark this is not possible; we give the consumer a free choice
suggesting that he protect the environment by purchasing  
ecological products but we cannot eliminate these methods.

My second doubt concerns the policy of prices.  Point F states
that an ecological product must be less costly than any other
product. I would like to receive additional information, if you
can help me, on the prices of ecological products that are
normally higher when purchased from the supplier and that, since
they cost more to manufacture, must be sold at higher costs.  I
believe that as a Co-op we do not have the power to adopt this
type of product policy, but we can take action so that our
Government imposes certain taxes on those products that are
harmful to the environment.

I therefore believe it is dangerous to read in such a rigid way
that we will adopt a price policy in this sense.


I believe there is a problem regarding the translation since the
French and Italian texts  read that: "our products must be
coherent and give preference to ecologically compatible
products".  We will have to find a formula that renders it less
rigid.  Mr. Ohya's document provides some suggestions on this

Since there are no further questions we can draw up this document
with the proposals for changes and will then submit it for a
quick verification to the members of the Executive Committee. 
Later this document will be submitted to  ICA so that it will be
included in the Cooperative Agenda 21.  The next meeting of the
Consumer Committee is scheduled on occasion of the Congress of
the Cooperative Alliance in Manchester which will be held on
September 19, 1995 and to which I am inviting you all to attend. 
Thank you for your participation, your contribution and lively
debate.  I would like to thank Professor MacPherson once again
for his being present  with us and we remain at his disposal.

See you again in Manchester in September 1995.



The Management of the Ghana Co-operative Consumers' Association
wishes the ICA Consumer Committee very healthy and fruitful
discussion on the occasion of its Plenary Session in Prague.

Even though we are not present physically we fully support and
approve all decisions since such decisions are likely to improve
member  organisations throughout the world.

We further promise to join you in all future activities of the
ICA Consumer Committee.


(Updated as of  October 24, 1994)

In order to prepare the document presented at the Tokyo Congress
in 1992, the entire world co-operative movement worked and
reflected on updating its values, its principles and its

For four long years a committee collected, selected and
systematised a large volume of various different contributions
reaching important and significant conclusions and proposals
which have yet to be reviewed and improved before the formal
verification to take place at the 1995 Congress.  We are in
possession, therefore, of solid and concrete useful indications
on which to develop future ideas, and of precious bases on  which
to build the complex work to be achieved .

The co-operation concept, in fact, is so rich in history and
humanity to appear almost as abstract and unrealistic. It is
certainly not a concept that has to be implemented in a single
and obligatory way  since, due to its nature, it can be adapted
to ighly diverse geographical, economic and social conditions.We
must ask ourselves, in the broadest and most sincere of ways,
which role are we to assign to co-operation in society's
structure and dynamics.  On this matter, I am convinced by  the
reply given by Albrecht Schoene, Eurocoop's Secretary General, 
to which I wish to add: "the co-ops must constantly remember
their traditional values and draw from their history the strength
for their future. 

Freedom of exchanges, equal rights and equal opportunities for
progress and solidarity among citizens are the co-operative ideas
for a new global economy.  Progress and democracy are also the
conditions that favor the development of co-operation in peace
and harmony."

The unitary order of co-operative principles defined by ICA urges
all of us to identify the logical system in which to overcome and
reconcile the inevitable differences that exist among our

Within this context, I believe that the ten guidelines for the
responsibility of the consumer co-operatives are particularly
significant and pertinent to the following themes we are

1)   The responsibility towards the members and procedures of
     co-operative democracy.

2)   The responsibility towards consumers.

3)   The responsibility towards  employees.  

4)   The responsibility towards suppliers.

5)   The responsibility towards the public institutions.

6)   The responsibility towards the environment.

7)   The responsibility towards the world collectiveness.

8)   The responsibility towards   the   entire  co-operative

9)   The responsibility towards our heritage and ideals.

10)  The responsibility towards sound business operations.

1.   The responsibility towards members that, as co-operators,
are subject to and bearers of the "natural" rights that the
co-operative organization must respect integrally without any  
exceptions. In particular, the rights deriving from being a
"member-user" while at the same time being a "member-owner" must
be developed and protected. This second role, above all, imposes
the adoption of economic participation factors that involve as
much as possible the member, in order to absolve the function of
programming strategic-administrational trends and control of the
results.The co-operative movement is aware that definitive
control formulas are difficult to adopt, but that it is necessary
to make progress through an experimental innovation process in
order to maintain the co-operatives --and the entire movement--
always in the right direction and to avoid bureaucratic and
technocratic degeneration.  In this way the responsibility
towards the members becomes also the responsibility towards the
procedures of co-operative democracy that intends to establish
rules that are valid for all, without any exceptions.  This means
preventing any arbitrary act in the functioning of the organisms
and any manipulation of democratic processes, together with the
transparent training of the managing groups and the widest and
most active participation of the social base in the choices made
by the consumer co-operatives.

2.    The responsibility towards the consumers is translated into
applying a competitive and effective policy that responds to
consumer needs in the following terms: 

     * convenience (which signifies elaborating a price policy
     aimed at protecting the purchasing power); 
     * quality of products and assortment (which signifies
     positively responding  to the need for safety and health

     * improved service (which signifies rendering shopping
     functional to the information needs of the consumer and to
     the organizational modalities of  its pace). 

This more generally implies the commitment of the co-operatives
in constantly keeping in step with the consumers, studying, in
particular, the social context and the individual to better
understand the market and promote an increasing awareness in
consumer choices and models, also taking into account the growing
cultural and religious peculiarities.

3.    The responsibility towards employees that is not limited
to recognizing contract guarantees, protecting the work position
or supporting and stimulating participation, but must extend also
to the duty of organizing increasingly advanced and original
forms of employee involvement in co-operative management and in
defining its economic and social strategic objectives.  However,
considering the present economic crisis which has hit many of the
co-operatives, for future plans it is necessary that employees
are aware, in the same way the managing level is, of the need to
aim on being operative and on developing the diverse aspects that
distinguish us from an increasingly stiff competition. 

4.   The responsibility towards suppliers that expresses the
contribution to the market's transparency and the commitment to
sustain the manufacturing companies who work for quality in
environmentally acceptable ways and at reasonable costs.

5.   The responsibility towards the public institutions that
concerns the need to interact and discuss with the public
authorities without hesitation and fear, to serenely call the
authorities' attention to the entrepreneurial importance that the
co-operative movement holds in the national economy and to its
function for progress of society and  promotion of citizens.

6.   The responsibility towards the environment on whose
importance all our members concur with growing concern. The
seriousness of the ecological problem is not only limited to
local or limited areas (dangerous nuclear plants, animal species
in extinction, healthiness of food, etc.), but concerns all of
humanity and our planet's state of health. 

The consumer co-operatives intend to take action on the market
to correct the over-abundance produced by industrial societies,
to build a relationship with nature using, without destroying,
the resources to utilize an eco-compatible economic development. 

This entails that the "production" culture must also give rise
to the  urgent establishment of the "reproduction" culture which
requires all social and economic entities to give constant
attention to the all the possibilities of recycling materials
used in manufacturing products.

7.   The responsibility towards society is, in a certain sense,
the sum of many specific responsibilities.  The themes which
require particular involvement could be solidarity, human needs
and peace. 

Through cooperation, various groups can work towards these
objectives aimed at improving quality.  More specifically, these
groups could be the consumer organizations, the environmentalists
and the voluntary social organizations.  I hope that these groups
share the system of co-operative values since I believe that
common operative goals and social alliances can be reached
together in view of improvement for the general interest.

8.   The responsibility towards the entire co-operative movement
that signifies participating in the life of the national and
international organizations and  the practice of "external
mutuality" which represents the most advanced frontier of the
world co-operative development.

9.   The responsibility towards our heritage and ideals: the
first condition is essential for cooperation to exist, the
co-operative tool which becomes mere theory without its support. 
It is worthwhile stressing that an integral and decisive portion
of the heritage of the co-operative's expertise is its image, the
external and general reflection of the individual behavior of all
those living and operating in the co-operative experience.  

Consequently, the need arises for a specific responsibility
towards ideals that signifies defending and updating the elements
that distinguish the consumer co-operatives with respect to other
distribution forms and organizing member and consumer education
wherever it is socially useful.

10)  In order to fulfill all the responsibilities mentioned
above, the responsibility towards sound business operations is
indispensable, otherwise the co-op societies cannot obtain those
excellent profits which are so essential for offering services
to members an guaranteein, an effective social policy. Management
and staff should always be attentive to that and exert themselves
to realize those benefits which members could enjoy and
contribute to the development of the society through efficient
and effective sound operations.

3. COOPERATIVE AGENDA 21 - Consumer Sector

(Updated as of November 18, 1994)

Consumer cooperatives have always paid attention to life styles
as well as to the promotion of more sustainable consumption
patterns, they in other  words represent an integrated approach
combining environmental, ethical and health problems both at
human and  global levels.

It is essential to deeply intervene in the distribution system
of goods and products in order to promote a truly effective
environmental policy. We cannot remain neutral towards production
but should instead use our power of influence to encourage and
promote the products and production systems that are
environmentally worthier since it is no longer sustainable to
rapidly consume natural resources.

That is why we must adopt an integrated approach in organising
our production and distribution activity, in other words an
approach that can combine environmental problems, consumer 
health care as well as our own social responsibilities.

Since consumer cooperatives represent 14% of the total number of
ICA members with a representation of about 70% in the most highly
industrialised countries, we can play a particularly strong role
both with regards to the education of citizens/consumers and in
terms of our capacity to influence the production system by
getting it used to adopting ecological standards that are better
adapted to safeguarding natural resources.


1    The promotion of models of consumption and production that
     will contribute to the reduction of the indiscriminate use
     of natural resources (environmental stress  and the
     introduction of excessive quantities of different kinds of
     waste). The development models we should endorse must be
     more efficient in satisfying mankind's essential needs and
     in bringing about a more balanced resource distribution.

2    The direction of producers and consumers towards production
     and consumption models (life styles) that are
     environmentally sustainable, by developing and implementing
     innovative policies and actions.


A   Launch environmental information and educational initiatives
to encourage a new orientation of consumer behaviour towards more
ecological consumption models. We supply our consumers with all
the information and knowledge necessary to develop an awareness
and purchasing behaviour more in keeping with environmental

B    We promote a series of initiatives in the fields of
research, information exchange and development within the
production and distribution system. The aim is to stimulate a
rationalisation of technologies and an exchange of information
and knowledge so as  to minimise environmental burdens and

C    We must be consistent in our behaviour and commercial
policies by giving preference to more ecologically compatible
products while bearing in mind the individual market situation
of each country. Environmental compatibility will be assessed by
means of the Life Cycle Analysis of products. We contribute 
actively to the development of ecological products and replace
the harmful ones, market conditions permitting.

D    We actively promote the  reduction, reuse and recycling of
waste in the sectors of our concern (policy of the 3Rs). This
means reducing packaging from the very beginning, opting for
reusable forms and recycled materials, actively encouraging
differentiated waste collection.

E    We adopt environmental  protection as one of the main
objectives of our whole activity and production. We introduce the
"ecological cycle" principle as the basis of the planning,
development and programming of our activities with the aim of
establishing correct environmental management systems.

F   Bearing in mind each country's market conditions, we adopt
price policies that reward the ecological contents of products
and services. We promote awareness initiatives with Government
Authorities to encourage them to introduce a policy placing a
cost that will be paid by producers on the indiscriminate use of
natural resources (non-renewable resources, emission of polluting
substances etc.). In fact the polluting content of any 
production process implies a social cost that must be considered,
together with other production factors, in a product's price

G    We encourage and directly  promote the development and
endorsement of instruments for assessing the environmental
compatibility of products, packaging, productive and distributive
activities, not only by conforming to the standards established
by international organisations but by encouraging and adopting
the most advanced tools and forms of analysis.

H    We actively take part in the debate on environmental issues,
also at an institutional level. The aim is to promote the
adoption of a legislative structure that is more attentive to the
requirements of environmental protection, for instance by
introducing new regulations and taxes on polluting substances and
adopting ecological labels. We must formulate and promote the
adoption of national programs on environmental policies.

I    We should establish alliance policies in synergy with
consumer associations and with international organisations.
International collaboration will favour the attainment of the
environmental targets we established.




1. Developments leading up to the International Joint Project 
   on Cooperative Democracy
2. Structure of the Report
3. Purpose of the Report

Part 1 (Main Report)

Chapter 1 (essentials)

1. How shall we solve the difficulties we are facing?
2. The basic values in cooperatives and participatory democracy
3. Cooperatives position in society
4. The cooperatives identity and participatory democracy
   (all the above has been agreed)
5. Themes and proposals for making participatory democracy work

Chapter 2 (a case study from each country)
(consisting of research on specific cases and experiences in
Britain, Canada, Sweden, Italy and Japan)

Part 2 (Appendix)

Chapter 1  Theory of consumers' cooperatives
Chapter 2  Methodology of International Joint Project
Chapter 3  The setting for each country's cooperatives



Executive Summary

Printed in Rome on November 1994
Publishing and Editorial Coordinator: Mrs. Antonella BELFIORI