Chapter XVIII - Promoting Education, Public Awareness and Training

   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 XVIII

        (CHAPTER 36)

A.  The character and dimensions of co-operative enterprise
    in education and the media

    Co-operative enterprises, and the international co-operative
movement, have an enormous potential for raising public awareness
concerning sustainable development. Members of co-operative
enterprises are predisposed to pay attention to the issue,
because they are rooted in the local community which is affected
by the operation of their co-operative enterprise. They are
predisposed also because co-operative values and principles
stress concern for the community and solidarity with other
cooperators, their families and their communities. Co-operators
are receptive, therefore, to any attempt to promote their
awareness and provide information on the basis of which they may
be able to take action.

    Moreover, co-operative values and principles stress education
and training. This is partly in order to ensure the effective
operation and management of each co-operative enterprise, which
in itself is valuable in respect to matters of sustainability
because it serves to emphasize community solidarity and
intergenerational responsibility. It is also intended to meet the
broad needs of members of co-operatives and their families and
communities for literacy, basic education, vocational training,
and education as citizens. Given on the one hand that members of
co-operatives are aware and concerned with the issues of
sustainable development on the basis of their own experience and
interests, and that on the other hand the international co-
operative movement has adopted the task of working for
sustainable development, then this inherent acknowledgement of
the value of relevant education and information is of particular
value in respect to any attempt to create stronger awareness, to
support this with relevant information, and to mobilize and
facilitate appropriate action.

    All elements of the international co-operative movement
stress human resource development, including that of members,
voluntary office holders and employees. Some of the larger
individual co-operative enterprises, many co-operative business
groups, and sectoral, regional and national co-operative
movements, have established their own specialist training
institutions, supplemented in many countries by co-operative
departments in universities and technical training institutions,
and in some countries governmental co-operative education
institutions.  A specialized body of the ICA, the International
Committee for Training and Education of Cooperators (INCOTEC)
provides advice to ICA regional offices and member organizations
in respect to increasing the effectiveness of their education and
training programmes, and assists member organizations to
facilitate international collaboration through study visits and
exchanges. ICA has provided professional education and training
to young journalists through workshops. 180/ 

    In order to support education and training, and to make
possible broad information diffusion, co-operative groups,
federations and alliances at regional, sectoral, national and
international levels have established a very substantial media
capacity.  This includes not only the newletters and bulletins
circulated locally, but daily newspapers, some of which have
significant national circulation, as well as co-operatively owned
and organized radio and television stations.

   In some instances independent journalists pool their resources
by establishing a co-operative news agency - such as Inter-Press,
and in other cases newspapers pool their resources by
establishing a different type of news agency - such as Associated

   Co-operative forms of purchasing, supply and marketing
enterprises in the media make possible diffusion of information
which would not be economically feasible for the for-profit media
enterprises. For example, in the United States C-Span, a co-
operative whose members are the owners and operators of cable TV
enterprises, has become a preeminent source of news and
information for citizens interested in obtaining direct coverage
of the work of elected bodies and other public institutions.  In
1994 it was available in 60 million households, and its companion
network C-SPAN2 was available in 30 million. 181/

   In the United States also the National Rural
Telecommunications Cooperative, established in 1986 and owned by
almost 800 rural electricity and telephone co-operatives,
broadcasts a package of television programmes to over 90,000
rural households.  In 1994 it was negotiating for distribution
rights of DirectTV satellite programmes to eight million homes,
mostly in rural areas. 182/ 

    In Singapore the national trade union movement has supported
the establishment of a radio station organized as a co-operative
whose owners are individual trade unions. 183/

   The co-operative media is particularly important in respect
to the task of persuading the poor to engage in the task of
building sustainable development.  For many members of co-
operatives who are within middle-income or safer lower-income
households the co-operative media may be perceived and used as
a valuable and specialist complement to more general media
sources.   But for the lower-income members of the co-operative
movement this media is often the only source of information.

    In a number of countries education co-operatives, established
either by a group of teachers - i.e a service providers co-
operative - or by a group of parents on behalf of their children
- i.e. a user or consumer co-operative - not only fill the gap
between public educational systems and private for-profit or non-
profit systems, but in many cases offer an alternative pedagogy
and subject matter which is frequently predisposed to diffusing
better understanding of sustainable development issues.

    In many countries the cost to students of books and equipment
is substantially reduced - allowing more low-income students in
particular to follow courses - by university co-operative
bookstores.  For example, in the United States the Harvard Coop,
the retail segment of the Harvard Cooperative Society in
Cambridge, Massachusetts, has 125,000 members and sells academic
and general books, music and a wide variety of other merchandise
to students and faculty at Harvard, MIT and five other
universities in the Boston area. Elsewhere in the country
university co-operative bookstores have established co-operative
federations which act as purchasing and service co-operatives. 
For example, the Collegiate Stores Cooperative of Northridge,
California, has 200 member stores that sell almost US $
1,200,000,000 annually and serve 2.4 million students, 20 per
cent of the national student population.184/ 

    In Argentina one of the major book publishers in Latin
America is organized as a co-operative. 185/  In many countries
there are co-operatives of writers, and journalists.

B.  Use of the co-operative media specifically to promote
    sustainable development

   The existence of the co-operative movement's own media
capacity is of particular significance in respect to the task of
achieving sustainable development.  In this regard it must be
borne in mind that the current membership of the international
co-operative movement is about 800,000,000 persons: with a
further 2,400,000,000 immediate family members likely to receive
information through the co-operative movement's own media

    Increasingly the co-operative media is used to provide
information, create awareness and promote interest and action in
favour of sustainability of communities and national societies.

   For example, in Japan the Association for Education and
Publication Regarding Agricultural Co-operatives (IE-NO-HIKARI),
a member and specialist organization within the National
Federation of Agricultural Co-operative Associations (ZEN-NOH),
is responsible for major media activity.  Almost all rural
households in Japan are members of an agricultural co-operative,
which extends its activities from agriculture to comprehensive
rural living. The Association's monthly magazine has the highest
circulation of any magazine in Japan: in 1992 it was 1,100,000. 
In July 1992 the theme of the issues was the environment, and
what needed to be done.   Environmental issues are included in
all monthly issues. 186/

    In 1991 the Mouvement des Caisses Desjardins in Quebec
launched a radio magazine programme on environmental issues (Feu
vert). 187/ 

    The Co-operative Federation of Nigeria uses its "Coop
Newsletter", as well as posters and pamphlets, to bring to the
attention of its members the need for attention to environmental
matters and how to adjust farming methods to a sustainable
strategy. 188/ 

C.  Activities by specialist organizations within the
    co-operative movement

    In a number of countries specialist institutions within the
co-operative movement have taken a special interest in the
promotion of member awareness of environmental matters and
sustainable development. For example, in Spain, the Fundacio Roca
Gales, founded in 1976 to promote co-operative development in
Catalonia, includes as one of its goals the study and protection
of the environment. The principal role of the responsible
department of the organization is to coordinate the environment
education movement in Catalonia, collaborating with other groups
and institutions. In order to stimulate awareness, to educate and
to disseminate information the Fundacio has produced audiovisual
and printed material for use in schools. 189/

D.  Activities of national co-operative movements

    Delegates at annual meetings of the Canadian Co-operative
Association have adopted a series of resolutions directing the
Association to use its communications vehicles to inform member
organizations about one another's environmental practices. 190/
In many Canadian communities the environment is the theme when
cooperators celebrate Co-op Week during third week of October. 

    In Sweden in 1989 the co-operative insurance enterprise
Folksam, the Swedish Co-operative Union and Wholesale Society
(Kooperativa Forbundet) and the Oil Consumer Co-operative
Organization (OK) joined with scientists, doctors, farmers,
teachers and artists to establish an organization known as "the
Natural Step".  Its function was primarily to disseminate
information based upon research studies and national specialist
reports (for example on energy and traffic) in a clear form to
decision-makers and to the public as a whole. The organization
has organized TV broadcasts, an environment week for young people
in countries around the Baltic Sea, exhibitions, newsletters and
a competition for local communities.  A first project was to
distribute to every Swedish household and school a cassette tape
and book intended to increase knowledge about the environment and
the need for a environmentally sustainable society.  Over 40 per
cent of Swedish households read and/or listened to this material.

  In 1991 an environmental seminar involving pupils at more than
200 Swedish schools was organized using a satellite TV network,
after which schools prepared newsletters which were sent to the
Swedish Parliament and Government.  In 1992 the Natural Step
founded a new institute whose function would be to develop and
operate environmental education programmes for enterprises and
organizations. The Swedish Union of Agricultural Co-operatives
(LRF) was among the first to train all its staff and to offer the
programme to all its members, and was followed by the co-
operative oil and petrol enterprise (OK).  In April 1992 the
Natural Step, in collaboration with scientists, prepared and
published "The Green Dictionary of the Swedish People".   By 1992
the Natural Step had organized an international network with
partner organizations in Czechoslovakia, Greece, Hungary,
Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and
the United States. 191/

E.  Activities by sectoral co-operative movements

    Most rural co-operative movements have extended the concern
for sustainable development they have shown by adjustment in
their operations, which have included technical and
organizational training, to broader diffusion of information and
activities designed to stimulate awareness among members and
their communities.

   For example, the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool has established a
"Responsible Stewardship" programme designed to make both rural
and urban residents aware of the issues involved in sustainable
agriculture and how current agricultural practices related to
that concept. 192/ 

    The Co-operative Federation of Nigeria is aware that it
provides access to large audiences for international agencies
concerned with the environment. Its own basic education and
promotion unit within the Nigeria-EEC Co-operative Education
Project, which aims to promote co-operative awareness and
strengthen the movement's self-sustainability, includes within
its programmes information on sustainable development (for
example, alley cropping, a method to curb soil erosion), use of
natural fertilizers and compost and waste-collection.  The
Federation works with the National Popular Theatre Alliance, a
group of dramatists who adapt educative programmes into play
scripts, to provide to a wide rural audience information on
environment and health. 193/   The Uganda Co-operative Alliance
stated in 1993 that the country's co-operative movement could
contribute to environmental management in part through use of its
primary co-operative societies for the dissemination of
information. 194/

    In Mindanao, Philippines, Project Raintree included a
substantial environmental education component directed
principally at children by means of seminars, comic books,
leaflets etcetera, in collaboration with the Department of
Education, private schools and environmental groups. 195/

    In many countries consumer co-operative movements have taken
major initiatives in public education and the diffusion of
information. For example, the United Kingdom consumer co-
operative movement, which has a 12.5 per cent market penetration,
gives particular attention to educating its own employees, and
distributes informative and free material. Advertising also
includes the provision of information on environmental matters. 
 The Co-operative Retail Services Ltd. aims to raise
environmental awareness through community projects and improved
customer information. Many of its own-brand products carry
environmental messages.  A poetry festival and competition on
environmental issues had been organized.  The Co-operative
Wholesale Society had published a booklet entitled "Co-op Action
Guide for the Environment" prepared by the Society's Technical
Group on Environment Care. 196/

   In Denmark the consumer co-operative organization FDB informed
ICA in 1989 that it considered it necessary for consumers to be
aware of the importance of environmental issues and had drawn up
a plan for customer information and future marketing campaigns. 
It had introduced its own system of symbols to indicate
environmentally friendly products and packaging. 197/.   In
Finland the co-operative EKA group seeks to influence members and
customers through consumer education, advertising, member
committee activities, campaigns and sponsored activities; and to
influence employees through education and encouragement to
involve themselves in environmental issues. 198/

   In Sweden the consumer-owned wholesale and retail co-operative
group Kooperativa Forbundet introduced a special environmental
education scheme for its employees in 1989.  It considers the
information and education of customers and the promotion of
environmentally friendly products to be a priority.  
Environmental awareness is promoted by special advertising
campaigns.  Books and other literature are published.   Customers
are provided with as much information as possible about the
products they buy. The co-operative  considers this as a long-
term plan which it hopes will make customers feel that shopping
in a co-operative retail store is, in itself, an environmentally
friendly act. 199/

    Co-operative movements in some countries have taken
initiatives to measure air pollution, partly as a means to
diffuse awareness among members, partly to mobilize the large
numbers of members interested in environmental matters.  For
example, the Japanese consumer co-operative movement has been
active in this area.  In December 1991 members of the Kanagawa
consumer co-operative, in collaboration with fifty other co-
operatives, monitored nitrous oxide levels. 200/  In April 1991
the Consumers Co-operative Kobe in Japan, which had a membership
of over one million, adopted a new logo in blue and green
embodying symbiosis - the harmonious relationship of men and
women, Coop Kobe and the community, humanity and nature. 201/ The
Japanese Consumers' Co-operative Union has involved large numbers
of its members in exercises designed to increase environmental
awareness.  For example in October 1991 10,000 co-operative
members in Osaka measured levels of nitrogen dioxide in the
atmosphere, and in December 20,000 co-operative members did so
in Tokyo.  From 1992 onwards nationwide environmental audits were
to be organized involving over 100,000 co-operative members. 202/

   Since 1992 Japanese co-operatives have increased their
environmental activities.  A nation-wide Survey of the Local
Environment draws over 10,000 co-operative members who measure
air pollution (and water quality) in their local environments by
means of simple testing procedures.  The Survey aims to increase
members' awareness of the local environment and help them develop
and environmental outlook. 203/

180/ Communication from ICA, March 1994.
181/ National Cooperative Bank, op.cit., p. 26.
182/ Ibid., p. 22.
183/ Review of International Co-operation, vol. 86, No. 4
     (1993), pp. 132-138.
184/  National Cooperative Bank, op.cit., p. 24.
185/  Ibid., p. 30.
186/ Review of International Co-operation, vol. 85, No. 4
     (1992), p. 139.
187/ ICA News, No. 2 (1991), p. 5.
188/ International Conference on the Environment and Sustainable
     Growth ..., op.cit., pp. 74-78.
189/ ICA News, No. 3, 1992, p. 7.
190/ Ibid., p. 15.
191/ Ibid., pp. 9-10.
192/ Ibid., p. 15.
193/ Ibid., pp. 26, 28.
194/ Jossy R. Bibangambah, loc.cit.
195/ ICA News, No. 3, 1992, p. 23.
196/ Review of International Co-operation, vol. 83, No. 2
     (1990), pp. 94-95; 
197/ Review of International Co-operation, vol. 83, No. 2
     (1990), p. 85.
198/ Ibid., p. 88.
199/ Ibid., p. 91.
200/ Review of International Co-operation, vol. 85, No. 4
     (1992), p. 146.
201/ ICA News, No. 2, 1991, p. 3.
202/ ICA News, No. 3, 1992, p. 19.
203/ ICA News, No. 5, 1994, p. 6.