For 1,850 credit union leaders and guests from 48 countries, the World Credit Union Conference in Dublin, Ireland, July 27-30, was a rare opportunity to interact with credit union volunteers, senior-level executives, expert speakers, regulators and advocates from around the globe.
Held annually by the World Council of Credit Unions, Inc. (WOCCU), the World Credit Union Conference is the premier forum for trend analyses, exchange of innovations and networking. The Dublin conference, co-hosted by the Irish League of Credit Unions, provided participants an exciting venue in Ireland's charming "City of Living Culture" and insight into the fascinating development of one of the most successful credit union systems in the world.
"It's no surprise so many want to be involved [in credit union work]", Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern told attendees during the conference's opening session. He said it reflected the "high standing" of credit unions, which "bring financial dignity" to people of modest means. Irish credit unions, he continued, "are the biggest providers of social finance in the country, and it's important to recognize that contribution."
General sessions featured keynote addresses by former President of Ireland and human rights advocate Mary Robinson, U.S. Credit Union National Association CEO Dan Mica and noted Irish economist and television personality David McWilliams. Irish Minister for Finance Brian Cowen and Iain McDonald, Director-General of the International Cooperative Alliance, also spoke to participants. Twenty breakout sessions were divided into four issue-driven tracks—strategy, finance and operations, increasing access to financial services, and issues for developing countries.
Receiving the WOCCU 2006 Distinguished Service Award, statesman John Hume said his greatest accomplishment was establishing Northern Ireland's credit union movement.
"The credit union movement hasn't boasted about what it has done," Hume said, "but when you consider how credit unions have transformed not only individual people, but the national economy…it has to be said that the credit union movement has played an incredible role in developing and shaping our country." Hume, the only person in history to have won the three most prestigious peace awards in the world – the Nobel Peace Prize, the Gandhi Peace Prize and the Martin Luther King Award, was a leading figure in Ireland's civil rights movement in addition to his credit union work.
The 2007 World Credit Union Conference will be held in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, July 29 - August 1, 2007.
World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development agency for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach.
World Council has implemented more than 290 technical assistance programs in 71 countries. Worldwide, 56,000 credit unions in 101 countries serve 200 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.