Cooperatives are with us from the time we are born, to the time we leave the earth. They take care of our health, provide us with housing, feed us, clothe us, insure us, finance us, and help families grieve for our loved ones. Cooperatives provide us with all the necessities to live decently, create strong and resilient businesses and are prioritize people, not profit. Cooperatives in all sectors of economic activity benefit members and communities in a sustainable way.
The International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) announced the theme of this year’s celebrations to be Cooperatives for Sustainable Development, a tribute to the key roles cooperatives around the globe have played to fight climate change throughout the movement’s history.
Being one of the world’s oldest and largest business networks, the cooperative movement was the first group of enterprises worldwide to endorse the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and be recognized as a partner in achieving these goals. On July 1st this year, the day is closely tied to the SDGs, focusing on the halfway point to achieve them by 2030.
“At the mid-point of the 2030 Agenda, efforts need to be deepened, and this can only be done with more cooperation. Enterprises, which are responsible for organising the production and distribution of goods and services, must focus on people and the planet. Cooperatives have a model for doing this and have been demonstrating it for almost 200 years”, says the President of the ICA, Ariel Guarco.
The UN describes cooperatives as an “inherently sustainable business model” and it’s easy to see why when cooperatives lead the world for sustainable business practice, eliminating waste wherever possible.
In Indonesia, PerMaTa South Sulawesi, a winner of the ICA’s Youth Replication Project, set up a waste bank cooperative in the South Sulawesi province in 2020. Their 18 young members manage six waste collection points, and materials get sorted for recycling and sold to vendors, keeping these materials within the circular economy, and contributing to the government’s Going Green program.
In Brazil, Revolusolar is helping communities to reclaim affordable and renewable energy by training under-served communities how to install solar panels to reduce electricity bills by 30%. A win for the environment, and for helping improve the quality of life for underserved populations.
The interest in reducing greenhouse gas emissions throughout Europe has been harnessed by the community energy cooperatives that have grown in prominence over the last few decades. They allow local communities to take control of their energy bills, helping them save money and reduce their emissions by forming small renewable energy co-ops.
In the UK, Younity, a joint venture between Octopus Energy and Midcounties Co-operative, launched the Community Energy Kickstart initiative in 2022 to help bridge the funds needed to kickstart community energy groups’ renewable projects.
At our event in Montreal later this year, CoopCarbone, a Quebec-based cooperative dedicated to reduce greenhouse gases, will provide attendees the option to offset their carbon footprint during the event.
On Coops Day this year, let’s spread the news on the impact cooperatives continue to have on sustainable development. How will you be celebrating Coops Day this year?