Press release

Co-operativesUK welcomes Dame Pauline Green's election as ICA President

Dame Pauline Green, former Labour MEP and leader of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament, has been elected President of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) at its General Assembly in Geneva.

The ICA is the largest non-governmental organisation in the world and was founded in 1895 in London to unite and represent millions of co-operatives around the globe. With a remit of promoting the co-operative economic and social model, the ICA enjoys consultative status at the United Nations and works closely with the International Labour Organisation. Dame Pauline has an association with the co-operative movement that goes back a number of years, and is the former Chief Executive of Co-operativesUK, the national trade body for co-operatives.

Speaking from Geneva, Dame Pauline said: 'I am obviously honoured and also humbled by my appointment. There has never been a greater need for increased international co-operation than now. Whether you look at the climate threat, the global economic situation or international understanding, almost all of the world's most pressing issues need co-operation to help sort them out. My role will be to promote co-operation, both economic and social, to help bring about positive change for all people and for all countries.'

Pauline describes herself as a born internationalist and is keen that she fully represents co-operators across the whole world. 'As a Brit, people might think I have a purely national or European focus, but my association with co-operatives across the world over many years will, I believe, stand me in good stead to promote co-operation on all continents.'

The current economic crisis has brought to the fore how interdependent the world's financial markets are and how ordinary people have been alienated by big corporate institutions. According to Dame Pauline, one of her key priorities as President of the ICA is going to be raising the profile of co-operatives as a grassroots movement with huge potential to empower people and communities. 'Together the top 300 co-operatives globally are responsible for an aggregate turnover of 1.1 trillion dollars, that's nearly the same size as the Spanish economy. They really are a global force,' she said.

Leading by example is going to be another feature of Pauline's four year tenure at the ICA. 'We all know that one of the most pressing issues for the planet is climate change and the ICA and its member co-operatives have been at the forefront of addressing this threat. Now it's time for international organisations like the ICA to work smarter and to reduce the amount of travelling we undertake, for example.'

Another area of work that Pauline is keen to address is the business benefit of working with other co-operatives around the world. 'We have huge opportunities to work with co-operatives all around the globe to strengthen our movement and to secure economic benefits of working together. Not only is that great business practice but it will also bring huge benefits to individual workers and consumers.

'An excellent global example is the coffee growers' co-operative from Brazil that trades through Cooperative Business International in the US, which has resulted in increased and guaranteed sales for many coffee farmers' families.'

Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operativesUK, said: 'It is great that Pauline has been appointed to this position. Across the world co-operatives play an important part in alleviating poverty and creating wealth and employment for millions of people. We are looking forward to working with the ICA and Pauline to make sure this message is heard as widely as possible.'

Paul Hazen from America's National Cooperative Business Association, which supported Pauline in her candidature, said: 'In the UK Pauline has been instrumental in raising the profile of co-operatives and their economic, political and social success. Because of Pauline's leadership, co-operatives are increasingly seen as value-based businesses that offer better returns for their members and the community than their 'for-profit' competitors.

'Pauline Green is a change agent with the vision and experience to see into the future and anticipate the opportunities and challenges facing co-operatives. She is the type of leader that the ICA needs; and she will bring a new energy, enthusiasm, and success to the ICA and the co-operative movement. It is for these reasons that the NCBA endorsed, without any reservation, the candidacy of Pauline Green for ICA President.'