The Co-op Group has announced it will be committing over £11m in the next three years to help community environmental causes, social enterprises, charities and groups, both in the UK and abroad.
In partnership with its charity, the Co-op Foundation, the retailer has created a £3m Carbon Innovation Fund to support UK entrepreneurs, start-ups and groups with funding for projects that will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and deliver added social value.
Alongside this, the Group says it is creating a funding stream within its existing Local Community Fund, to enable members to support local community causes dedicated to helping the environment and reducing carbon emissions. This will see thousands of groups share approximately £3m a year.
Organisations tackling climate change are invited to apply for funding of up to £100k from a new partnership between the Co-op Foundation and the Group.
The £3m Carbon Innovation Fund will support projects run by charities, social enterprises, community organisations and local, regional and national governments that aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the food and farming sector and contribute to real system change.
First-stage applications for funding is now open. Applications will close at 12pm (midday) on Friday 10 December before a second stage in January. The Foundation expects to fund approximately 10 projects in year one. Interested organisations can apply here.
Jo Whitfield, Co-op Food CEO, said: “At this time, when Cop26 brought into stark focus the realities if we don’t all co-operate for healthy planet, it is clear investment is critical to building a greener, healthier and more prosperous future. Both the new Carbon Innovation Fund and our new commitment through our Local Community Fund will give us strong and impactful opportunities to make a difference.
“With the Carbon Innovation Fund, we’re looking to do something different. Rather than ideas for individual commercial benefit, we want innovations that can be freely shared and can be of benefit to society in general. It’s this type of co-operation that we believe we need to help accelerate our response to the climate crisis. Equally, the support from the Co-op membership is always so fantastic, and I am proud that through the community fund we will be able to support the work of groups on the ground in our communities, working day in and day out to look after our planet.”
The Carbon Innovation Fund, launching this month, will provide funding of up to 10 grants of up £100,000 per year – up to a maximum of £1m a year for the next three years, helping to drive solutions to reduce carbon emissions within the food system and farming communities. The fund is aimed at projects and ideas which benefit the environment and also contribute to real systems change, with a positive impact for people and some of the hardest hit communities, globally. For example, this could include supporting coffee or cocoa producers to help mitigate or adapt to climate change impacts in their communities.
This funding has been donated by the Group from the sale of compostable carrier bags in the UK, with the remainder coming from the Co-op Foundation’s own funds. The Foundation expects to support up to 10 projects a year, which benefit the wider community and those most affected by climate change. Eligible organisations include charities, social enterprises, community organisations and local, regional and national government.
The fund will also look to produce an annual research report providing insight into the social challenges that the UK faces in the transition to a decarbonised society. Interested parties should subscribe to the Co-op Foundation’s blog to find out more about the Carbon Innovation Fund.
Nick Crofts, CEO of the Co-op Foundation, said: “The Co-op Foundation is committed to tackling climate change, and through this new Carbon Innovation Fund, we want to inspire businesses and organisations to get involved in reducing the emission of greenhouse gases to help communities across the UK and the world. These don’t have to be new ideas – we’re also interested in ancient and indigenous knowledge that may just need investment to become something that can benefit food system and farming communities. Learning from the past can inform a greener future that can be enjoyed for generations to come.”
Rebecca Birkbeck, the Group’s community director, said: “The way money is raised through our membership is unique and is co-operation at its finest. Being able to invest this multi-million pound figure every year to help fund thousands of local community causes who are working so tirelessly to keep our planet healthy, brings to life our vision of co-operating for a fairer world and is just simply the right thing to do.”