In questi giorni, risistemando vecchie cose, mi è tornato casualmente tra le mani l’intervento che tenni il 23 aprile 2012 a Bruxelles in occasione dell’Assemblea Generale di Cooperatives Europe. Il mio unico intervento in un’assise internazionale che, inutile negarlo, m’inorgoglì e spronò a proseguire in un lavoro di lunga lena per promuovere l’incontro tra le giovani generazioni e la cooperazione. Ci sono parti del nostro lavoro che ci stanno particolarmente a cuore e che ci appassionano, questa lo è certamente per me, convinto come sono che la cooperazione possa essere uno degli strumenti per la creazione di buona occupazione e di emancipazione per generazioni che, allora come oggi, pagano più di tutte i cambiamenti in atto. Nello stesso tempo la cooperazione, nel suo complesso, ha bisogno come l’aria dell’intelligenza e dell’energia innovatrice che le giovani generazioni naturalmente portano. Impostammo un lavoro lungo e articolato, le cui azioni proseguono ancora oggi producendo frutti interessanti, che credo mantengano il loro valore. Per questa ragione mi sono convinto a riproporvelo. Ai risultati ha contribuito, tra gli altri, Paola Bellotti che vedete nella foto al mio fianco (in questo caso per sfruttare la sua ottima conoscenza delle lingue in caso di necessità) e che, forse anche grazie ai progetti europei avviati proprio a seguito di questa programmazione, tra poco andrà a lavorare per ICA (International Cooperative Alliance). Una bella soddisfazione per Lei e per tutti noi!
Dear Mr Niederlander, dear cooperators, thank you for the extraordinary opportunity that you give us to explain our project during this important assembly.
Our project moves off the idea that cooperation could be a wonderful means to give hope to youth and that society (most of all in old Europe) needs talent, energy, freshness of young people. But we know that ideas are like diamonds. It’s necessary to work steady to have a good result. We think that a good result is to contribute to a new phase of fair development through the fortification of european spirit and institutions. Development today has to do with a number of factors, dealing with how much our system will be able to rethink itself and to open up to new ideas, creating a fertile soil for new initiatives. These factors are:
- generation mix
All these factors are assets among our young generations and we should leave them to express themselves if we want to have a future.
Europe (and Italy in particular) are getting old. In Italy demographic growth depends highly on migrants. In Liguria the rate of population between sixty-five and seventy-nine years old is higher that nationally. The brain drain is an effect of the lack of opportunities. In Liguria this problem is much bigger than in Italy and a lot of young graduates must leave Genoa to work in other italian cities or in other countries. I think that to make experiences in other countries is a beautiful thing but it should be an opportunity, a choice, and not the only way to have a chance. In addition in Italy people defined as “N.E.E.T.” (not in education, employment or training) are growing. All these factors make us think that it is necessary to do something and that cooperation can be really useful to contribute to a “smart, sustainable and inclusive growth”. First of all working for the “Knowledge – based economy”, through the creation of more favourable conditions for research and development, improving the quality of the education system and opportunities for young people in the job market. We can be useful if we give value to our roots – for example, going back to our historical role providing opportunities to the oppressed – in our age the young people – for their emancipation in society and going back to our historical international vision and network.
The project will study the context in which young people can express their skills and talents, organizing an international platform for the exchange of experiences and idea with the objective of nurturing the growth of new and innovative cooperatives, following and supporting the process. We already have a successful initiative with high school students. The students are involved in coming up with cooperative ideas and studying the best business model in order to present the idea as a proper start up. Every year we give an award for the best ideas. I can really say that the projects they present are extraordinary and in some cases they want to continue the work!
If we want to connect young people we have to get in touch with the places where young people study, work, or have fun such as:
- student organizations and associations
- vocational high school system
- social networks and internet world
But it’s also necessary to make them protagonist, starting from our own organization. We shouldn’t work for young people but with young people.
As I said, we have three objectives:
- create opportunities for young people to express and use their skills and talent supporting the creation of innovative cooperatives. They could also be european cooperatives provided we can improve european regulations;
- to foster the creation of a common european consciousness among young people living and working in Italy and in other connected european countries. We are going through a crisis that, in the worst case, might put into question even the existence of the european project. At the same time the solution of the crisis is in a stronger Europe. This is indeed a hefty task. Also, it is a responsibility that we cannot afford to pospone further. Cooperative culture has always been built through international relationships, cooperative thinkers have always been in contact through different countries. Young people are naturally open to the world. looking for a point of contact between youth and cooperation can be useful to fortify european spirit;
- the third objective is to create an enduring network of Institutions and european organizations interested in fostering young people’s initiative in creating innovative cooperatives.
To reach these very ambitious objectives we must:
- map needs, priorities, bottlenecks, drivers of youth involved in enterprise development, identifying potential training opportunities. With the help of the local chamber of commerce we have already started this work that it should be ready in a few months;
- train and tutor young potential cooperatives leaders in enterprise development techniques, developing their skills and talents;
- organise a meeting – in Genoa, at first but hopefully in the future in other cities or countries – transmitted on line to match ideas, experiences, knowledges. The first meeting could be the next september in Genoa.
So, we have a lot of things to do, but ideas are like diamonds!
Thank you for your attention.