The Conference featured distinguished speakers, including Nicolas Schmit - EU Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, alongside representatives of the Spanish government and co-operatives, contributing to the event's significance. The plenary session underscored the significance of the new model proposed by the social economy as the blueprint for tomorrow's economy. The discussions emphasised the ability of this innovative model to ensure not only economic resilience but also to promote solidarity and sustainability. The gathering highlighted the transformative potential of the social economy, positioning it as a driving force for positive change in the economic landscape. Numerous speakers reiterated the fundamental role of co-operatives to the objectives of the social economy and its essential contribution to the reinforcement of democracy and to an economic model establishing a fairer distribution of wealth in society.
Following the engaging plenary session, the Euro Coop Board convened in hybrid format, ensuring the participation of the large majority of members in a discussion for the organisation's strategic future. Board members engaged in insightful conversations about member relations, internal and external priorities, and the path ahead, with a particular focus on shaping workstreams for 2024 in anticipation of the upcoming EU elections.
In the afternoon, Hispacoop organised an engaging visit to the Eroski Garbera shopping complex housing a vast 10,000 sq m co-op store. Eroski is a consumer co-operative group established in the 1970s in the Basque Country, but has grown its extensive presence with over 1,600 establishments throughout Spain, including supermarkets, travel agencies, cafeterias, restaurants and petrol stations. During the visit, Board members acquainted themselves with the latest in-store innovation, especially focusing on Eroski’s strategy to offer local / regional and fresh products, contributing to short supply chains and aiming at attaining highest customer satisfaction among all Spanish retailers.
On November 14, Euro Coop organised a dedicated bunder the theme "Consumer Co-ops: Sustainability Frontrunners in Times of Crisis." The event served as a platform for members to underscore their commitment to fostering a more sustainable future within their operational landscapes. The main themes addressed included consumer engagement, the green transition, renewable energy, anti-inflation product pricing, skills and training, and revitalizing rural areas through digitalisation.
Hispacoop's Carmeno Redondo Borge took center stage, presenting their noteworthy initiatives oriented towards consumer empowerment through circular consumption education. With a special focus on engaging young generations and their educators, Hispacoop showcased projects that stood out for their innovative approach.
Debbie Robinson and Kieran McCarthy from Central England Co-operative shared their organisation's steadfast dedication to advancing sustainability. They delved into their Green energy self-sufficiency plan and comprehensive actions to curb food waste, outlining practical initiatives that align with their commitment to a greener future.
Albino Russo, representing ANCC/Coop Italy, unveiled their strategic plan for economic sustainability and preserving consumer’s purchasing power. Particularly noteworthy was their proactive stance against inflation, aligning with the Italian government's anti-inflation initiative until the end of the year. Coop Italy's emphasis on investing in their own-branded products and maintaining competitive pricing demonstrated their effective approach to economic sustainability.
The social sustainability endeavors of Samkaup in Iceland took the spotlight as Gunnar Sigurðsson showcased the steps the company has taken. From championing equal pay to prioritising employee training and education, Samkaup showcased a holistic commitment to sustainability into its working structure.
Lukáš Němčík presented the cutting-edge innovations of Coop Czech, highlighting their collaborative efforts with municipalities. The establishment of unmanned stores across the country, especially in remote and rural areas, stood out as a groundbreaking initiative. Coop Czech's partnership with municipalities aims to redefine the community shopping experience, bringing a novel and accessible dimension to retail services.
The dedicated seminar highlighted innovative actions from Euro Coop members. From circular consumption education to economic sustainability measures, the presentations reflected a collective dedication to advancing social and environmental responsibility. As the event concludes, the co-operative leaders' exchange of insights reaffirms the movement's resilience and commitment to shaping a sustainable and inclusive future. The diverse initiatives presented during the seminar exemplify the co-operative spirit in action, paving the way for a more sustainable future.