Last week I attended the Co-operative Group's inspiring ethical event, which showcased co-operative ways to create a sustainable economy.
‘The co-operative opportunity: how to reboot a sustainable economy took’ launched The Co-operative Group’s Ethical Plan for 2012 to 2014, which brings together around 50 bold targets in areas including community, responsible retailing, ethical finance, tackling global poverty and protecting the environment.
Co-operatives UK and Forum for the Future were partners in the event, which really did showcase how co-operation not competition can help kick-start the economy.
With around 600 people there, there was a real buzz. It built on the widespread interest and media coverage that co-operatives have received over the last month at the start of the International Year of Co-operatives and is another important step in putting co-operatives on the map.
During the networking after the speeches you could speak to people in a number of zones, including areas such as food, community energy and co-operation.
I was on the community energy stand, along with Rebecca Willis, the co-author of the recent report ‘Co-operative renewable energy in the UK’, where we discussed with attendees the vibrant and growing co-operatively owned energy sector in the UK. I spoke to several organisations embarking on their own co-operative initiatives.
I wish I’d had the chance to speak to a person from a local transition town movement who put forward a question after the uplifting speeches – he asked why there weren’t any examples on the transition movement undertaking sizeable community energy schemes.
If he’d visited the community energy stand he could have picked up a copy of the Co-operative Renewable Energy report, which has case studies on several organisations which have as their driving force Transition Town groups, going on to raise significant amounts of capital from members, by way of successful community share schemes, in order to undertake innovative co-operatively owned schemes. (The report can be viewed below).
The whole event showed that, whilst business and political leaders look for answers, co-operatives have them. It showed that there really is a co-operative opportunity.