The United Nations International Day of Co-operatives

Jul 6, 2018
International Day of Co-operatives

Ottawa, July 7 2018: Today is the International Day of Co-operatives, which is celebrated the first Saturday of July each year.  The theme for the 2018 International Day of Cooperatives (IDC) is “Sustainable consumption and production”, creating an opportunity for co-operatives to show how they run successful businesses while respecting our natural environment and the resources it offers.

Sustainable societies through co-operation are possible because the co-op identity is based on ethics and values, and co-operatives understand that their businesses cannot survive long-term without sound environmental practices.

Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada (CMC) members have been on a sustainability path for many years. Their stewardship of resources and care in ethical supply chains is a natural feature of the co-operative model being owned by people and not shareholders. Co-op businesses follow principles and values, one of which is Care for Community, but it is also the principle of education and training that results in co­operative innovations being market leaders.

In Canada, there are some key examples where our members lead in their respective sectors by investing in sustainable consumption and production.

  • Federated Co-operatives Ltd., a consumer co-op federation with members across the four western provinces, invested $200 million to transform the way their energy business uses water. FCL has owned an oil refinery for more than 80 years with a long tradition of serving farmers and consumers. This award winning and industry-leading technology investment allows FCL’s Co-op Refinery Complex (CRC) to clean and recycle 100% of the CRC’s wastewater, reducing its need for freshwater by about 28 per cent. In 2017, the Wastewater Improvement Project was named Industrial Water Project of the Year at the Global Water Awards in Madrid, Spain. No other refinery has made the investment or commitment to sustainable water use.
  • The Fédération Québecoise des coopératives forestières (FQCF) has done excellent work with its 33 member co-ops to make the forestry industry sustainable. With a long history of participation in reforestation and silviculture, the co-op members have also invested and innovated in sustainable practices while diversifying into biomass energy to make the production of lumber a sustainable enterprise that contributes to local economies. These co-operatives set the standard for sustainable forestry.
  • Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) has more than 4 million consumer members purchase outdoor equipment and clothing for an active lifestyle. MEC is a leader in Canada in making supply chains transparent. MEC enforces a Supplier Code of Conduct that details how factories must meet standards of worker rights and environmental sustainability. In addition to spending 1% of gross revenue on environmental causes while maintaining a deep commitment to “sustainability by design” which permeates all aspects of their retail operations from green buildings to limited packaging.
  • The Co-operators, a leading co-operative delivering insurance services to Canadians, has been on a journey to sustainability for more than a decade. They actively shape products and services for the consumer with a focus on sustainability. The recent introduction overland flood insurance in the Canadian market was due to their leadership and a recognition that this was a missing element for sustainable communities who were losing their most valuable assets.  They also introduced hybrid auto insurance discounts and home insurance discounts for LEED buildings that encourage responsible energy consumption.

These are only a few examples of how our members are contributing to SDG 12, Responsible Consumption and Production, by building sustainable communities through co-operation. It is leadership in all sectors by co-operatives that modernize markets and practices and promote the transition to a sustainable economy. For co-operatives, this is already a competitive advantage that will continue to expand to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals.

This International Day of Co-operatives pledge your co-operative through the www.Coopsfor2030.coop campaign to show your commitment to a sustainable society and to delivering on the promise of the SDGs.