COP21: What role can co-ops play in UN Climate Initiative?

Representatives from co-operative and mutual organisations have taken part in the COP21 conference in Paris, highlighting the potential of co-operatives in fighting climate change. Chief executive of the International Co-operative...

Representatives from co-operative and mutual organisations have taken part in the COP21 conference in Paris, highlighting the potential of co-operatives in fighting climate change.

Chief executive of the International Co-operative and Mutual Insurance Federation, Shaun Tarbuck, spoke at the Lima to Paris Action Climate Finance Session. He talked about how the co-operative and mutual insurance industry was working to deliver a long-term culture of smarter investment decisions.

“Mutual insurers have continued as the fastest-growing part of the global insurance industry since the financial crisis,” said Mr Tarbuck. “Since 2007, our sector has grown its premium income by an impressive 31%, considerably above the market growth of 13%. Our business model thrives by adopting a long term, sustainable approach to business and it is therefore of little surprise to see mutual and co-operative insurance leaders now playing such a visible and vital social and economic role in the world.”

ICMIF’s 5-5-5 Mutual Microinsurance Strategy also aims to protect 25 million more poor people, in the world’s poorest areas by 2020. Launched in 2015, the strategy aims to extend mutual insurance to an extra five million low-income households over the next five years in five countries. This equates to 25% of the G7’s business sector commitment to increase climate insurance cover for an additional 400 million poor and vulnerable people in highly exposed and low-income countries within the next five years.

Mr Tarbuck explained how these two initiatives fell in line with the UN’s Climate Resilience Initiative – Anticipate, Absorb, Reshape – launched on 1 December. ICMIF’s Resilience Modelling Forum helps understand the risks associated with climate change, anticipating hazards. Market penetration initiatives such as the 5-5-5 strategy also build on the UN’s mission to absorb shocks. Reshape refers to the need to look for solutions to the big issues around funding and transparency and accounting for climate change, which is what ICMIF’s smart risk investing initiative is about, explained Mr Tarbuck at the event.

Another side event at the conference hosted by Crédit Coopératif co-operative leaders from the energy, finance and housing sectors. The conference, themed Civil Society engaged for climate transition, featured presentations from different co-operatives that are making a difference in terms of sustainable development and climate change.

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Crédit Coopératif has also launched an initiative to collect voluntary contributions from its own exchange transactions. This has enabled its members to financially support an area of great poverty in the Himalayas with sustainable housing. The VCCT (Voluntary Contribution on Currency Transactions) is a 0.01% contribution based on Crédit Coopératif’s volume of currency transactions, which supports the cost and donates it to a development NGO. The contribution has helped fund solar habitats in the Himalayas as well as energy-use wood-fired ovens in Morocco. Another Crédit Coopératif project has provided 3-year support for a rehabilitation programme in “Haut Martissant,” in the Port aux Princes neighbourhood, in Haiti.

At its General Assembly in Antalya, the International Co-operative Alliance passed a motion calling on heads of states to agree efficient measures to tackle climate change.

Referring to the role of co-ops in tackling climate change, Monique Leroux, president of the International Co-operative Alliance, said in a statement: “Climate change is a complex global threat, not confined to ideological or geographical borders, and can only be addressed through a collaborative approach. Co-operatives are sustainable enterprises and their important role in sustainability has been recognized in several global policy initiatives, such as the Rio+20 outcome document, the Financing for Development Outcome Document and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We urge the heads of state and government, present in Paris for the COP21, to agree on effective and ambitious measures against climate change and to take into consideration the co-operative movement as a partner in their implementation.”

  • You find more of our coverage from the COP21 conference here.
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