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?