Coop identity, culture & heritage session International Co-operative Alliance, Seoul, World Co-op Congress, 1 December 2021

As part of Congress’s first key theme, Examining Our Co-operative Identity, delegates gathered on the afternoon of 1 December in Seoul and online to discuss cooperative and cultural heritage. In 2016, UNESCO formally recognised cooperatives as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, and in her introduction, the session’s facilitator Stefania Marcone referenced this decision as something to reflect on in this conversation, saying, “if we want to rebuild a better world, cooperative culture and the culture in cooperative sectors are fundamental.”

David Smith, lifelong co-operative activist and Trustee of the Robert Owen Memorial Museum offered a presentation from Wales, where he shared that despite having global recognition in the co-operative world, Robert Owen, whose 250th birthday is being celebrated this year, is little known in Wales. Mr Smith explained that there is sadly poor understanding of the co-operative movement in Wales, something he and his colleagues are working to counter through educational programmes, media coverage and events. He ended his presentation with a question to Congress: Would the creation of a global annual Robert Owen Day spur us to action in creating a co-operative education system for the co-operative world we wish it to be?

About David Smith

A lifelong co-operative activist. Former roles: Co-op Foundation Trustee; Co-op Group Main Board, Specialist Board & National Values & Principles Committee; Co-op Group Senate; Co-op Group Wales Regional Board, South Wales Area Committee. Public service includes Government Food Adviser; UK Healthcare Regulator. David directed the first EC funded Wales Anti-Poverty Programme; and pioneered co-operative & community initiatives: free legal services, community-based housing associations, care and repair, pre-school & adventure play, local Co-op Development Agencies, multipurpose Social Care Co-operatives. Founded: Cardiff Student Community Action, Welsh Food Alliance & Wales Progressive Co-operators. Board Member, Newport Credit Union; Robert Owen Memorial Museum Trustee. Former Lecturer, Gwent Tertiary College, Graduate Ruskin College, Oxford and UC Cardiff + PGCE, MA (European Human Resource Management) Keele; Professional Food & Management qualifications.
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