Chapter XVII - Demographic Dynamics and Sustainability

   This document has been made available in electronic format
      by the International Co-operative Alliance ICA

  Contribution of Co-operative Enterprises and the International
     Co-operative Movement to Implementation of UN AGENDA 21:
       Programme of Action for Sustainable Development 

                     Prepared jointly by
             the International Co-operative Alliance
                      the United Nations
  Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development

                 Geneva and New York, April 1995

        For information purposes only. Not an official
   document of the United Nations and not officially edited.

                       CHAPTER XVII


A.  The contribution of co-operative enterprise to individual
    behaviour which, in aggregate, results in demographic
    dynamics more conducive to sustainable development

    In its Chapter 3 on combating poverty, Agenda 21 identifies
the unacceptable status and material condition of women, in
particular their poverty, inadequate access to appropriate health
and education, the unacceptable condition of children, and
inability to exercise rights to freely choose the number and
spacing of children, to be important factors in the existence of
demographic conditions which are not compatible with sustainable

    The contribution of co-operative enterprise and the
international co-operative movement to achievement of greater
compatibility between the demographic state of societies, socio-
economic structures and the natural environment is largely
indirect, although substantial. It is achieved largely through
its contribution to the eradication of poverty, its related but
distinct contribution to an improvement in the status of women
and children, particularly its contribution to improvement in
health, its impact upon more balanced regional development and
hence upon migration movements and societal malfunction in both
rural and urban areas.

    Some co-operative enterprises, and the co-operative movements
in some countries, play a more direct role in promoting and
facilitating greater awareness of the relationships between
demographic conditions, resources and socio-economic structures
and processes, by education in reproduction and in some cases by
distribution of means to control reproduction. 178/

B.  The contribution of co-operative enterprise to the adjustment
    by national societies to contemporary demographic conditions

    In many national societies communities are faced by
conditions whose negative impact is worsened by the demographic
dynamics already existing and not in themselves susceptible to
adjustment, being the result of demographically significant
individual behaviour in the past. The only possible response is
for societies themselves to adjust, for example organizationally
or technologically. Given the very wide dimensions of the co-
operative movement, involving individuals in almost all
countries, members of co-operatives, their families and
communities are often affected. In many countries co-operative
movements are responding specifically to such demographic

    In Japan, for example, both the agricultural and the consumer
co-operative movements are responding to the primary
characteristic of the demographic condition of the national
population: its rapid ageing. The Japanese agricultural co-
operative movement is particularly concerned with the rapid
ageing of the rural population, which is occurring at a rate much
higher than the national average. It is this situation which has
stimulated considerable interest in providing co-operatively
organized health and welfare services designed particularly for
elderly persons, and attention to the quality of life in rural
settlements. It is giving attention also to the development of
production technologies adapted to the "greying" farm population.

Basically, it believes, demographic balance can be achieved in
rural areas only if farmers' incomes can be raised sufficiently
to provide attractive careers for young people. 179/

178/ ICA News, No. 3, 1992, p. 25.
179/ Review International Co-operation, vol. 85, No. 4 (1992),
     pp. 140-141.