Climate change is focus for co-ops

The Director General of the International Co-operative Alliance, Iain Macdonald, has recognised what he called the increasingly vital role of the UK Movement in a worldwide context.

But, delivering fraternal greetings from the ICA to Congress 2008, he emphasised that social responsibility and co-operative values and principles were as important as scale.


He cited climate change as one of the most important issues facing the world and pointed out that co-operatives are rising to the challenge by promoting sustainable developments worldwide.

Mr Macdonald said: “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.”

The theme of this year’s International Co-operative Day was ‘Confronting Climate Change through Co-operative Enterprise’, which was reflected Mr Macdonald’s Congress speech.

Mr Macdonald added: “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-ops are using sustainable construction materials and designing eco-buildings, while co-operative banks and credit unions are providing incentives to invest in energy efficient technology through competitive mortgage, consumer and business loans.

“Our 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.”

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