Dear Cooperators,

On behalf of the International Cooperative Alliance, I would like to re-affirm my commitment that ICA will be hosting the 33rd World Cooperative Congress in Seoul, Republic of Korea, from December 1-3, 2021. My team is in the process of planning an exciting programme that will be held in person as well as online. 

Almost exactly a year ago, I travelled to Seoul with members from the ICA team and Congress Task Force to officially launch the preparations for Congress. We met with ICA members in Korea and government officials from the city of Seoul. Our discussions were productive, and we left Seoul inspired, energized and excited for the year ahead to make this congress an historical event.

As I look back to a year ago, I reflect on this trip – my last international trip before the pandemic closed the world’s borders. It was during this trip that we discussed at great length the theme for Congress – Deepening our cooperative identity. While life as we knew then has changed, the one thing that did not change is the priority cooperatives continue to place on the well-being of the communities they serve. We have seen repeated evidence of selfless acts of caring, sharing and helping in this last year, which has caused me to pause and reflect that I never had to look very hard for what the cooperative identity means to me.

It is with this that I would like to stress the importance for us to gather in Seoul, not just to celebrate our successes in overcoming unprecedented challenges in the last year, but to also learn from our identity, examine it, strengthen it, and show the world how cooperators can really lead the way in building a better, stronger and a human-centred and environmentally just economy. All while contributing substantially to some of the biggest challenges of our time.

In Seoul later this year, the way we share our ideas and stories during Congress may be different than years past. However, whether we connect in person or online, I am looking forward to deepening my commitment, and that of the ICA as a whole, to promoting and deepening the cooperative identity.

I encourage you to stay informed about our exciting plans on the World Cooperative Congress website and stay connected by subscribing to our monthly newsletter Destination: Congress.

Cooperatively yours,

Bruno Roelants

ICA Director General