Chapter XIX - Partners for Sustainable Development

   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 XIX


A.  Co-operative enterprises and the co-operative movement
    as a means for empowerment, representation and 

    Co-operative enterprises are organizational means whereby
individuals may achieve empowerment:  first in economic terms,
but on this basis, in social and political terms. This is
achieved by means of the aggregation of resources and mutual
self-help activities in a spirit of solidarity.  It is achieved
also through the solidarity which exists between co-operative
enterprises (even if engaged in different types of activity)
within broader national and international movements.

    The co-operative movement is democratically organized: it
responds to the wishes of its members, who are the owners of the
co-operative enterprises which constitute its economic base.   
This makes possible a member-driven or people-led process of
formulation of environmental policies and strategies. For
example, in Sweden the Swedish consumer co-operative movement
adopted in May 1990 a new programme for the environment. It did
so in response to demands expressed by members. The programme
itself was prepared on the basis of a member consultation project
in which 6-7,000 members participated. 204/

    In Japan the co-operative movement is the biggest citizen's
organization in the country. Citizens who are members of a co-
operative enterprise constitute a significant proportion of the
adult population.  Many of them are simultaneously members of the
environmental movement. Their co-operative enterprises provide
a an organizational vehicle for the expression of citizen's views
that changes in society and lifestyle are necessary to solve
environmental problems and for the mobilization of citizens for
this purpose.  It also constitutes an economic base whereby
action can be taken: giving economic weight to lobbying
undertaken by the co-operative movement; and also making possible
direct intervention to alter business goals and practices in co-
operative enterprises, which are responsible for a significant
proportion of economic activity. 205/ 

    In Japan the Consumers Co-operative Union has developed
networks with other civil organizations in many regions for
lobbying local governments.  In Tokyo in 1992 a signature-
collecting campaign demanding improved environmental policies was
organized by consumer co-operatives in collaboration with other
consumer organizations. 206/ 

    In 1993 the Uganda Co-operative Alliance stated that one of
three ways by which the co-operative movement in that country
might be able to contribute to environmental management was
empowerment of small-scale peasant producers with respect to
natural resource management and environmental protection. 
Participation in the co-operative movement would allow rural
people to become the principal agents in their own development. 
Primary co-operative enterprises provided organizational means
for mobilizing people to understand environmental issues and to
use indigenous knowledge and practices in resource husbandry
which would enhance realistic diversification of land use and
sustainability. 207/

    In many countries consumer co-operative movements have
recognized the value of partnerships with the environmental
movement.  In Sweden the retail co-operative group Kooperativa
Forbundet seeks to influence public opinion by developing links
with environmental organizations, and by organizing and
participating in conferences. 208/  The Japanese Consumers' Co-
operative Union is trying to promote its view that comprehensive
societal change is necessary if environmental problems are to be
resolved: it is doing so by extending its own network to include
all kinds of other co-operatives in Japan, foreign co-operative
movements, non-governmental organizations, the non-co-operatively
organized private sector and Government. 209/

204/ Review of International Co-operation, vol. 83, No. 4
     (1990). p. 46.
205/ Review of International Co-operation, vol. 85, No. 4
     (1992), p. 145.
206/ ICA News, No. 3, 1992, p. 19.
207/ Jossy R. Bibangambah, loc.cit.
208/ Review of International Co-operation, vol. 83, No. 2
     (1990), p. 91.
209/ Review of International Co-operation, vol. 85, No. 4
     (1992), p. 145.