By Peter Mason
According to Dr Anthony Jensen, ‘The International Year of Co-operatives, 2012, demonstrated the worldwide significance, globally competitive importance and potential of the co-operative movement to contribute to a sustainable, democratic and just society. It helped raise global consciousness of the … rising inequality in a world…’*
Bangkok was recently host to the Asia Pacific Co-operatives Research Partnership Conference which drew both academics and practitioners from across the region to plan a five year comparative research project potentially involving 16 countries across the region. The aim of the project is to examine and advance the co-operative model as an alternative to other organizational forms of business.
Representatives from the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Australia, Bangladesh, South Korea, India, Japan, and Vietnam came together to share and learn from their colleagues. Dr Peter Mason the CEO of CUFA was also invited to give a paper on the development of credit unions in Cambodia, Timor Leste and the Solomon Islands. The various papers and presentations framed the discussions on cooperatives around credit unions, workers cooperatives, agricultural cooperatives as well as consumer cooperatives both from a practical and academic perspective. Threaded through the conference was issues of sustainability, human development, poverty alleviation and competitive advantage.
As the leading cooperative development agency in the Asia Pacific region CUFA was a sponsor of the conference. The cross fertilization of ideas between practitioners and academia enhanced and enriched the event which saw a commitment from those attending to a number of short and longer term research goals to enhance the sector’s understanding of the advantages and challenges of the cooperative sector in the region.
* Dr Anthony Jensen, Building Cooperatives Across the Asia Pacific Region, Oct 2014