Delegates from across the continent gathered in Cardiff Bay on 21-22 November to discuss how the European cooperative movement should evolve to attract a new generation of co-operators. The event was organised by Cooperatives Europe and Cwmpas, a Wales cooperative development agency.
The aim of this event was to bring together current co-operative leaders and members of established co-ops, with a new generation of young co-operators. By bringing different generations together, conversations were encouraged to take the movement forward in Europe. During this, it was i.a. explored how co-operatives can make a positive contribution to some of the big challenges facing young people – mental health, employment, housing and climate change.
In this context, an important goal was to revive the Young European Cooperators Network, which had been in existence since 2015 and had fallen inactive since the beginning of the Covid19-Pandemic. Here, we met with almost 50 young people to present the work of the network so far and talked about how the network can be revived and, above all, what goals it should pursue.
Based on this, it was also discussed how to involve more young people in co-operation. How do we open the eyes of young people so they can discover how co-operatives are a genuine alternative for solving issues they face every day. How do we encourage them to become members, and actively participate in co-operatives to build a better life for themselves, their families and communities. During these discussions, IRU Coordinator Korbinian März participated as a youth delegate.
In parallel to the programme for young delegates, a board meeting of Cooperatives Europe took place. IRU Secretary General Mr Andreas Kappes who is also a Board Member of Cooperatives Europe thus participated as well in the conference and the Board programme in particular.
In addition, a strategy session was held on the second day for the Cooperatives Europe Board and three youth representatives. All Board Members were invited to reflect on three topics related to youth in order to better integrate them into CoopsEU work programme:
- gender equality
- education and research
- youth and entrepreneurship
This session took the form of a carousel brainstorming where participants were divided in three groups and instructed to discuss at their “station”. Three representing youth delegates attended this strategy session and brought their perspective on one topic each.