International Cooperative Alliance-Asia and Pacific (ICA-AP) along with the ICA-EU Partnership and its membership in the Philippines organised the second Asia Pacific Co-operative Youth Summit, in Cebu, The Philippines from August 18-21. The Summit witnessed participation of 147 young cooperators representing 17 countries! The theme of this year’s Summit was Creative Skills, Co-operative Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development.

The main venue for the Summit was the gorgeous Hidden Valley Mountain Resort located in Pinamungajan, Cebu, owned and run by Lamac Multi-purpose Co-operative. This specific venue was chosen to symbolise the victory of the team from Lamac, Ms. Justine Limocon and Mr. Kevin Palson, at the Coop Pitch competition, as part of the first youth summit that took place in Bali, Indonesia in 2016. Coop Pitch (or Co-operative Pitch) is a unique co-operative business ideas contest where young cooperators pitch their ideas to a panel of judges, and the winners are chosen on the basis of a pre-determined evaluation criterion. Lamac’s winning entry was their idea of Youth Engagement in Organic Farm Tourism. However, they didn’t just stop at the idea but when on to create thriving organic farming facilities including cacao production, coir products, rice plantations etc.

At the opening ceremony, the delegates had a wonderful surprise in the form of Ms. Zoe Clavel, an 11-year old from the SPED Integrated School for Exceptional Children (SPED-ISEC), Iloilo, The Philippines. Ms. Clavel is a star saver of the Aflatoun Program; an initiative thriving in the Philippines with support from NATCCO, an ICA-AP member.

ica ap 1Delegates on their way to the Welcome Dinner. Photograph credit: LGU Pinamungajan

This year we continued the tradition of inviting young and inspiring speakers to share their co-operative journeys. We were joined by Ms. Trinh Thi Ly of the Sinh Duoc Herbal Cooperative, Vietnam, who spoke on the herbal products her co-operative manufactures, and how they’re contributing to sustainable production in their community. Ms. Kanupriya Saigal from BeePositive, India trains rural women to become professional beekeepers and they create and sell products including honey, medicines etc. via beekeeping co-operatives. We were also joined by the Chocolate Queen of Cebu, Ms. Raquel Choa, who treated everyone to her motivational journey of setting up a successful chocolate empire and putting the Philippines back on the global map w.r.t cacao production.

This year’s Coop Pitch saw 12 finalists representing eight countries, and were mentored one-on-one by a group of experienced co-operators from the Asia Pacific and global co-operative movements. The finalists then presented their fine-tuned ideas in front of a panel of five judges where they were grilled on five parameters: compliance with co-operative principles, scalability, innovation, presentation skills and relevance to youth. The winner of Coop Pitch was Mr. Ng Jun Long from Singapore representing the Skyla Energy Cooperative for their idea of producing solar energy and selling it directly to individual households. The second prize was shared by Ms. Trinh Thi Ly of the Sinh Duoc Herbal Cooperative, Vietnam, and the Mifly Airline Cooperative from China. Mifly’s idea was to build a ‘Green Drone-enabled Agriculture Network’ using drones for multiple purposes including crop-dusting and spraying seeds.

One of the key highlights of the Summit was the rural immersion programme planned by Lamac for the delegates, where they created vermi-compost, learnt how to transplant rice saplings, fed cattle, used coir to create strings which would be used to make bags, hats etc.

ica ap 2Completing a task during the rural immersion programme.

ica ap 3All smiles at the end of the four-day Summit.

The last day of the Summit concluded with a panel discussion on ‘Placing Youth at the Centre of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)’ with interesting presentations about leveraging technology to monitor work undertaken by co-operatives for SDGs, sustainable agricultural practices, achieving youth-centric SDG targets through the Aflatoun Program amongst others. The Summit concluded with a promise to take forward the momentum that had been built by both the first and second Summits and to meet again with fresh ideas and collaborations in 2020!

You can catch the main highlights of the Summit by watching the video here.