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Home > Feature Articles > Sustainable Development Best Practices for Community Sustainability

UN Presents Confronting Climate Change through Co-operative Enterprise

Cooperatives are a grass roots, sustainability solution. Coops combine the best of localism, bartering, community building and smart economics. And the UN agrees! They celebrate an annual day to give visibility to the cooperative way of doing business that's good for communities. Here is the 2008 message about cooperative business and community value and promise.

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Message of the International Co-operative Alliance
86th ICA International Co-operative Day
14th UN International Day of Cooperatives
5 July 2008

“Confronting Climate Change through Co-operative Enterprise”

Co-operatives are rising to the challenge of climate change at a scale and pace which shows leadership in a number of countries and sectors around the world. While some commit to cutting green house gas emissions, others are striving towards carbon neutrality, and all are working towards economic, social and environmental sustainability. Climate change is after all more than simply an environmental concern; it has an undeniable impact on the economic and social well-being of peoples around the world.

Co-operatives in all sectors are confronting climate change – for example,

  • Agricultural and fishery co-operatives are looking at energy usage from production to market, they are looking at their emissions (carbon and nitrogen) seeking to be neutral or indeed have a positive impact they are embarking on green energy production or innovative feed to reduce emissions from livestock production;

  • Consumer co-operatives are seeking to reduce their carbon footprints

  • Both in-store, but also in terms of their own operations as well as their suppliers, and, they are active in providing education to members and consumers;

  • Housing co-operatives are using sustainable construction materials and designing eco-buildings;

  • Co-operative banks and credit unions are providing incentives to invest in energy efficient technology through competitive mortgage, consumer and business loans;

  • Insurance co-operatives are finding innovative ways to keep premiums down while still being able to cover the changing needs of their members with regard to the increasing risk due to extreme weather patterns and natural disasters linked to climate change;

  • Energy co-operatives are striving to provide clean and sustainable energy through wind, solar and bio-fuels;
...and many other co-operatives are working daily to ensure that they are sustainable enterprises both economically, socially, and environmentally.

A number of co-operatives have taken leadership roles at the international level partnering with the United Nations Environment Programme’s Climate Neutral Network, committing to the UN Global Compact "Caring for Climate" action platform, and many more are active at the national level. Equally, if not more important, however, are the actions taken on a daily basis by large and small co-operatives who are conscious that every effort no matter how small, can contribute to slowing climate change impacts.

150 Years of Democratically Delivered Cooperatives

These activities however are not new. After all, co-operatives have been active in promoting sustainable development for over 150 years.

Because co-operatives are democratically controlled business, operating under values and principles which include social responsibility and caring for their communities, they strive to serve members not solely in economic terms, but also in the larger social, cultural and environmental scope.

Today, the international community is challenged by the food crisis and reconstruction efforts following natural disasters - both of which can at least in part be attributed to climate change.

For more information about the UN's support of cooperatives, check out the UN website, and the UN Social Development web page.



Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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