24th IGA annual conference 2022:
War – Climate Crisis – Covid
Cooperatives as an anchor of trust

On 4 November 2022, the International Institute for Alpine Cooperative Research held its 24th annual conference in Innsbruck.

Cooperatives as an anchor of trust

Cooperatives evolved as “problem solvers” in times of crisis. Faced with war, climate crisis and Covid-19, they have shown yet again where their strengths lie. This was the bottom line of this year’s conference of the International Institute of Alpine Cooperative Research (IGA).
“Especially in turbulent times like these, cooperatives can act as an important anchor of trust,” said IGA Chairman Arnulf Perkounigg in his opening speech at the conference in Innsbruck. Examples from banking and agriculture showed in detail how successful they have been in this respect. Sustainability was also a major topic.
“War in Europe, inflation, interest rate development, staff and supply shortages – this is the perfect time for cooperative activity,” said Gerhard Walther, Chairman of VR-Bank Mittelfranken Mitte. His institution (balance sheet total: 3.6 billion euros) was able to benefit from the current crises by actively approaching non-customers.

Opportunities for growth through loans for climate-friendly investments

With regards to new customers, however, the cooperative bank also counts on sustainability – for example in the loan sector: Walther listed financing for thermal renovation, modernisation of buildings and the development of renewable energies as examples. At the same time, the bank is relying on membership growth: in this respect, they fell back on their traditional recipe for success, turning new customers into members. For existing members, there are attractive offers for subscribing to additional shares.
Reinhard Wolf, Chairman of Raiffeisen Ware Austria, showed that cooperatives also play a key role in food provision. “Climate change is putting a lot of pressure on agriculture: the industry needs to support a growing population while at the same time dealing with limited soil resources.” In this regard, cooperatives are demonstrating their strengths especially in terms of logistics and transport, but also by showing solidarity.

Green Asset Ratio: a new KPI

Michael Lamminger, Head of Audit for the Raiffeisen Association, offered a perspective on sustainability reporting for SMEs and cooperatives. According to him, the Green Asset Ratio, which measures the share of sustainable financing in total assets, will become a decisive KPI for banks. However, other cooperatives and SMEs will also be affected by the issue of sustainability, especially as transparency in the supply chain is becoming more and more important. He recommends: “Voluntarily addressing issues like taxonomy now.”
During the following panel discussion, which was presented by Regina Wenninger, Board Representative of the Association of Cooperatives Bavaria, members highlighted the opportunities for collaboration between cooperatives, especially in terms of sustainability and reporting requirements. They agreed that this was a major strategic advantage compared to other companies.

Rewarding young talent

At the end of the conference, four young scientists were awarded the IGA research prize:
• Isabel Adams received the award for her dissertation titled “Cooperative approaches to facing the challenges associated with services of general interest in rural areas”.
• Anselm Balk was rewarded for his master thesis around the topic of the potential of cooperatives for the social economy.
• Gregor Rabong and Stefan Radakovics convinced IGA’s Scientific Advisory Board with their article “The uniform co-operative value core – evidence from Austria”, which showed that all sectors share certain cooperative core values.


International Institute of Alpine Cooperative Research
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A-6020 Innsbruck
+43 664 1840053

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How did IGA evolve?

Alpine cooperatives boast 100 years of success


IGA Research Award

IGA awards substantial prize money to support research on cooperatives, especially in the Alpine region.


What needs to be done?

We believe that it is time to work together on enhancing the central cooperative idea.


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