In 1995, the International Cooperative Alliance adopted the Statement on the Cooperative Identity. Subsequently recognized by many governments and multilateral organizations, and incorporated within the ICA’s own statutes, the Statement defines the cooperative business model, makes explicit the cooperative and ethical values on which it is founded, and sets out seven universal operating principles applicable to cooperatives of all kinds. Its existence sets cooperatives apart as the only enterprise model with globally agreed principles that rest on a foundation of shared values. In 2015, the ICA published Guidance Notes to the Cooperative Principles, with the aim of supporting the application of the principles to the governance and operation of cooperatives in the 21st century.
With the 33rd World Cooperative Congress, held in December 2021 in Seoul, Korea, the ICA launched an extensive reflection and consultation intended to deepen our cooperative identity and to explore how well the Statement has stood the test of time. Led by the Cooperative identity Advisory Group, a body struck by the ICA Board of Directors, the consultation will address such questions as, Is the cooperative identity adequately defined? Is it widely understood? Are cooperatives operating in a manner consistent with it? If not, why not? Is a fresh interpretation of the Principles needed in light of contemporary challenges and opportunities? Are any changes to the formal expression of our identity required? Can other tools be developed to enhance cooperatives' understanding of the cooperative identity and stimulate action on their part consistent with it?
Our cooperative identity is never more important than in times of crisis, such as today. The participation of the global cooperative community in this consultation to deepen our identity is vital. To assist the Advisory Group in planning its work, cooperatives everywhere in the world, their members and employees, and all other persons familiar with cooperatives are invited to complete this short survey. I hope you will take a few minutes of your time to complete the survey and to share this link with others. Should you have any questions about the survey, you may contact Santosh Kumar at
A question at the end of the survey asks whether you would like to participate in the wider consultation. If you answer yes, we will add you to our mailing list and advise you of upcoming events. Thank you for your participation.
Alexandra Wilson
Chair, ICA Cooperative Identity Advisory Group