Attending the B20/G20 Summit in Antalya, Turkey last weekend was a fantastic experience in more ways than one. I was there with a delegation of cooperative and mutual leaders following our work with the B20 Taskforce for Financing Growth which we have been involved with since 2014. This was the first time that B20 taskforce members were to come together at the same time as the G20 leaders would also be meeting so we were excited to see who would be attending. Representing the mutual and cooperative sector were: Monique F. Leroux, newly elected President of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA); Chuck Gould, Secretary General of the ICA; Jean-Louis Bancel, President, Crédit Coopératif (France), Andrew Crane, CEO, CBH Group (Australia); Patrik Schinzel, Chief of Staff, Chairman´s Office, Folksam (Sweden); Eliane O’Shaughnessy, Director, Office of the President and Chief Executive Officer, Desjardins Group; and myself.
Earlier in week in Antalya we had also attended the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) Global Conference Towards 2020, what will your co-operative look like? which brought together 1,000 cooperative leaders from all over the world and saw the election of Monique as the new ICA President. For those of you who do not yet know her, Monique is Chair of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Desjardins Group, a Canadian ICMIF member.
The contrast between the ICA Congress where the business was about collaboration and helping one another, to the B20 where it seemed it was “the survival of the fittest” was stark. Still, we were there to make the cooperative and mutual voice heard and we resolved to meet this challenge.
Saturday at noon was our first opportunity and we vowed to make every effort to maximise our presence there. Upon arrival at the Summit we rushed to get the best seats and that way ensure we had the best opportunity to speak during the sessions, that’s what people do at the B20, it’s the survival of the fittest remember! Our efforts paid off and we managed to secure six seats at the table in the room. This was important because only those at the table could make comments or statements as the sessions progressed.
The cooperative team made the most of our strategic positioning and made three of the available nine comments in the parallel sessions. In the session on Trade, Jobs and Competitiveness, Chuck was able to talk about the World Co-operative Monitor figures that had been released at the ICA Conference and which showed that the largest 300 cooperative and mutual businesses had grown by 7% and that the sector provided jobs for over 250 million people worldwide. These were perfect statistics to share in this forum. As the debate turned to how emerging markets can benefit I was able to talk about ICMIF’s 5-5-5 Mutual Microinsurance Strategy which will provide microinsurance protection to an additional 25 million people by 2020 through our members working with 5 million low income households, in five countries over five years.
In the other breakout session on Growth and Investment, Monique called for greater recognition of the diversity of business models, in particular in financial regulations. She asked for appropriate calibration of the rules to avoid any adverse effects for financial cooperatives and mutuals, because they are fundamental for financing growth and, in particular, financing SMEs. She was able to put the same point across to Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England and Chair of the Financial Stability Board (FSB) the next day when Monique and I met him briefly. There was even a promise from Mr Carney to discuss this with us again in the near future.
The second day of the meeting, Sunday, was the first time that the G20 leaders came together with the B20 attendees and though much of the Summit’s discussions were dominated by the terrible attacks in Paris, there were many positive speeches and sessions to attend. One of which included a panel of global policymakers including: Mark Carney, FSB; Christine Lagarde, MD, the IMF; Angel Gurría, Secretary General of the OECD; Guy Ryder, Director General of the ILO; Roberto Azevêdo, Director General of the WTO; Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission; and the Chairs of the Turkish B20 and L20 (Labour 20). It might make a good line up for the next ICMIF Conference!!
Seriously though, our two days at the B20/G20 were excellent, as cooperative representatives we were able to show the value and strength of the sector at one of the key global platforms. And finally, whilst other delegates were pushing to get their places on the buses back to the hotel, I was able to take a few moments and talk to the new Chair of the Chinese B20 Mr Yu Ping, Vice Chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), about next year’s Presidency in China and how the cooperative and mutual sector should be involved. On this occasion it was better not to be the first to move!!
About the B20/G20 Summits:
The Business 20 (B20) is an event which is part of the G20 Summit: it is meant to express common views from the international business community. More specifically, its main purpose consists in developing recommendations and issuing relevant commitments from the business leaders and business organizations to deal with nowadays issues.
The Group of Twenty (also known as the G-20 or G20) is an international forum for the governments and central bank governors from 20 major economies. The members include 19 individual countries—Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States—along with the European Union (EU). The EU is represented by the European Commission and by the European Central Bank.