Cooperatives for Climate Action
98th International Day of Cooperatives 2020
Ranjan Mani Paudyal
Every first Saturday of July is globally marked as International Day of Cooperatives. It is the biggest annual celebration of the global cooperative fraternity. This year, as per the Nepali Calendar, it is falls on Asar 20 i,e today. Unfortunately, this year’s International Day of Cooperatives is overshadowed by COVID-19 pandemic not forgetting the identical impact on National Day of Cooperatives that we bade goodbye on Chaitra 20, 2076. The governing body of cooperatives around the world, International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) had annouced this year’s International Day of Coperative’s theme as ‘Coop4ClimateAction.’
History has it that, the International Day of Cooperatives has been taking place on the first Saturday of July since 1923. Since 1995, the United Nations and the International Cooperative Alliance have been setting the theme for the celebration of CoopsDay through the Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives (COPAC), a multi-stakeholder partnership of global public and private institutions that champions and supports people-centred and self-sustaining cooperative enterprises as leaders in sustainable development of which ICA is a founding member.
This year’s theme is related to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No 13 of the 17 widely agreed goals by the UN member states in September 2015 as part of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. As per UN Environment program, average global temperature has increased, oceans have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, global average sea level has risen and global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) have increased by almost 50 per cent since 1990. Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as heat waves, droughts, floods and tropical cyclones, aggravating water management problems, reducing agricultural production and food security, increasing health risks, damaging critical infrastructure and interrupting the provision of basic services such water and sanitation, education, energy and transport.
So, we need to strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disaster, integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning, improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning, promote mechanisms for raising capacity for effective climate change-related planning and management in least developed countries focusing on women, youth and deprived communities.
ICA as the global voice of the cooperative movement is committed to educating cooperatives about these urgent issue of climate change helping cooperative enterprises respond to the UN’s call to action and collecting information about cooperative contribution to the 2030 agenda in order to better postition cooperatives as partners throughout the implementation process. As cooperators we need unanimously approved pledges to increase the share of renewables in our energy mix offering to members. We need specific commitment to reduce post harvest and retail level food waste. We have to promise to include sustainability aspects into pur annual performance report. Also, we need to vow to reduce our carbon footprints to tackle the issue of climate change.
Climate change severely impacts people’s livelihoods around the world, especially the most disadvantaged groups such as small-scale farmers, women, youth, indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities, who have to cope with extreme natural disasters and degradation of natural resources. This year we will focus on the contribution of cooperatives to combating climate change. If a 17-year old Greta Thunberg, a superpower Swedish environment campaigner, can single handedly shake the world and inspire an international movement to fight against climate change, the cooperative prowess of 1.2 billion people can really bring meaningful change in successfully tackling the common concern. The need is to chalk out pragmatic plans with firm determination to execute.
In the rich history of 175 years, it is the first time the spearheads of the cooperative movement will be foucsing their attention to development as the cynosure.The ICA’s environmental conern demonstrates it’s high possibility of addressing environmental concern by helping safeguard, protect and preserve the planet that that the cooperative leaders, management officials and most importantly our esteemed members reside in. Principally also the fundamental belief of concern for community is suitable in case of addressing climate change issue via cooperative strength.
In the 2016 Quebec (Canada) Summit of ICA, senior representatives of the UN had put forth their opinion that the global goals cannot be made sans cooperatives. In regard to this, ICA had instantly requested its members to incorporate SDGs in every way possible. Cooperatives, constitutionally regarded as one of the strongholds of Nepalese economy, have prioritised SDGs since 2017. National Cooperative Federation, the patron of all the cooperatives in Nepal, had directed all its members to take individual and collective actions in this regard to address the climate change issue as cooperatives and development share pro rata relation.
In our context also, the cooperative sector as a whole has to promote organic agriculture, rain harvesting techniques, sustainable land management and use of natural resources, energy cooperatives, tree plantation program so as to carry forward go green campaign in preserving and protecting flora and fauna. Cooperative sector must embrace cooperative nature in response to tackling cilmate change issues, afforestation and reforestaion program, bee keeping, animal husbandry, clean energy project, investing and promoting only eco-friendly credit line industry and business. Another major concern for us is promoting ecotourism to balance environmental concern and uplift the rural eco tourism that suits our country. Climate action is all about saving water, air and land. It is about saving the underprivileged communities from further economic, social and cultural derpivation and deterioration. It is about beautification of our mother earth. In this endeavour, the world is expecting the cooperative sector’s candid contribution. The first thing is to be thankful that the sector’s assistance is sought and the other most important thing is to act.
Basically, the prime objective of the day is to increase awareness on the cooperative movement as a whole and promote it’s success and ideals of international solidarity, economic efficiency, equity and world peace. The International Day aims to strengthen and extend partnership among the international cooperative movement and other actors, including government at all national and international levels. Due to the pandemic we are unable to mark this day with ritual fanfare and grandeur but it must not be limited to a day long celebration only.This whole year the cooperative movement should take forward it’s core essence with all its strength. The sentiments of this year’s aptly chosen theme can be materialised if the cooperative sector lends its hand with utmost sincerity. So, let’s cooperate for climate action.
(The contributor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)