Chapter XX - Environmentally Sound Technology & Capacity Building

   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 XX

     (CHAPTER 37)

    One of the principles of the co-operative movement is that,
in order to best serve the interests of their members and their
communities, co-operatives actively cooperate in every practical
way with other co-operatives, locally, regionally, nationally and
internationally. An important element of this cooperation is the
exchange of information and experience, provision of
opportunities for training and education, and, to a lesser
extent, financial support.

    Technical assistance is provided directly between individual
co-operative enterprises in the same area of business.   Some of
the larger co-operatives have their own technical assistance
programmes, as, for example, that of Land O'Lakes, one of the
largest agricultural marketing co-operatives in the United
States.  Sectoral and national co-operative movements, some by
means of special co-operative development institutions, provide
considerable technical assistance to other national movements and
to individual co-operatives.

   While a significant proportion of such assistance is provided
by co-operative movements in the North to those in the South and
in transitional economies, a growing amount is between co-
operative movements in the South. For example, in recent years
the Philippines National Confederation of Co-operatives has
trained Vietnamese nationals in basic co-operative business
methods and organization. In 1994, representatives of credit
union movements in the Republic of Korea,Singapore and Hong Kong,
together with the Asian Confederation of Credit Unions and the
World Council of Credit Unions, met to coordinate assistance to
credit union development in China.

   In some countries, co-operative development organizations and
large co-operative business enterprises providing technical
assistance themselves set up institutions whose function includes
harmonization of programmes and promotion of governmental
support. In the United States, for example, this is the case with
the Overseas Cooperative Development Council. In other countries
the co-operative movement has its own co-operative development
institutions which work very closely with governmental
development assistance agencies. For example, in the United
States USAID works very closely with the co-operative movement.

   In recent years a major effort has been made by the co-
operative movement to provide technical assistance to countries
in eastern and central Europe during their period of transition
from state controlled "co-operative" structures to genuine
private sector co-operatives. A Co-operative Network for Co-
operative Development in Eastern and Central Europe was
established in Geneva in 1993. By early 1995 54 co-operative
development organizations were members. The ICA, through its
regional offices, worked with 27 development partners (including
government agencies in Australia, Finland, Germany and Japan) to
assist national co-operative movements in strategic planning,
government relations, human resource development and
strengthening of international networking.  The work of the
international co-operative movement is harmonized with that of
the United Nations system, and particularly with that of ILO and
FAO, in part through common membership of the Committee for the
Promotion and Advancement of Co-operatives (COPAC).

   The technical assistance component of the international co-
operative movement is not only of major dimensions, but is highly
effective, given that both recipients and donors are within the
same movement and have an inherent feeling of solidarity,
understand each others interests and needs, and plan their common
work in a fully democratic and equitable manner. 

    This very substantial vehicle for technical assistance has
begun to be concerned with environmental issues and with ensuring
that the progress achieved is compatible with sustainable
development.  Co-operative technical assistance has significant
potential for the exchange of experience and information
necessary for sustainable development.

A.  Exchanges of information and views

     Co-operative movements which are leaders in the adoption of
environmental strategies note that they have learned from the
experience of movements in other countries, and have provided to
others the results of their own experience. This has been the
case for the Japanese consumer co-operative movement. 210/ 

     The co-operative media has played an important part in the
international transfer of information, not only for consideration
by members of the co-operative movement, but more widely within
certain 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), of which almost all rural households in the country
are members, published in 1982 the Japanese edition of the
special United States Government report entitled "The Global 2000
Report to the President - Entering the Twenty-First Century".  
This report led the way for increased activity on environmental
issues in Japan. 211/ 

B.  Operational support for co-operative environmental programmes
    by means of movement-to-movement technical assistance

    The Canadian Co-operative Association had undertaken by 1992
development programmes in 22 developing countries, using funding
from the Canadian International Development Agency, co-operative
organizations, provincial governments and individuals. Its Asia
Region staff had organized two regional workshops on environment
and sustainable development. One, held in May 1990 in Thailand,
had sensitized staff in Asia to environmental issues.  A second
held in February 1991 at Anand Niketan Ashram in Gujerat, India,
had brought together 35 participants from nine countries to
establish guidelines for assessing the environmental impact of
co-operative projects. It drew up action plans to include and
apply such guidelines in designing, implementing and evaluation
the Association's projects in Asia. 212/

    In Uganda the Agricultural Co-operative Development
International of the United States, Winrock International and
other non-governmental organizations worked with the Uganda Co-
operative Alliance in a programme of on-farm productivity
enhancement in eastern Uganda which focused on biological
nitrogen fixation and soil management by means of use of mulches,
manures and nitrogen fixing plants. 213/  Agricultural Co-
operative Development International has named a Natural Resources
Management Coordinator in response to its increased involvement
in natural resource management and sustainable development.  
ACDI projects in a number of countries include components
stressing sustainable agricultural development and responsible
natural resource management practices.  A project in Egypt
includes a component on environmental education;  one for South
Pacific countries helps farmers to develop export markets in
order to reduce deforestation;  one in Cape Verde includes soil,
water and forestry conservation. 214/

    Some national consumer co-operative movements have suggested
collaboration of various types.   For example, the Nordic
consumer co-operatives recently substituted a common symbol for
environmentally-friendly products for their own symbols. 215/ 
The Finnish co-operative EKA group gives priority to Nordic eco-
brands in its retail operations and includes as part of its
environmental programme attempts to promote and influence
environmentally-friendly operations by co-operatives in other
countries, particularly in the Nordic region, through interaction
and joint buying. 216/

     The Swedish consumer co-operative movement has suggested
that even greater impact upon producers of goods supplied them
to consumers could be achieved if the demand pressure of a number
of national consumer movements were to be aggregated and joint
ordering of products adopted.  Moreover, it might be cheaper to
supply an enlarged market. 217/

    Co-operative organizations in a number of countries have
provided technical assistance to partner co-operative movements
in the area of promoting awareness and providing education in
environmental matters.  For example, in 1991 the Canadian Co-
operative Association provided CAN $ 80,000 to the National Co-
operative Council of Sri Lanka for use in the education of co-
operative leaders, school children, and the public at large to
be environmentally conscious. 218/

     The Cooperative Housing Foundation of the United States
began providing technical assistance during the 1960s, and by the
late 1980s had sponsored the construction of low cost housing in
more than 30 countries. The Foundation offers technical
assistance, and, working through the national federation of
credit unions, offers loans for low income groups.  In 1987, for
example, the Foundation participated in a Conference on Co-
operative Housing, Home Improvement and Jobs held in Honduras. 
The Conference brought together housing co-operative movements
from six Central American countries. 219/  The Foundation
developed a model for mobilizing residents in informal
settlements to address some of their own environmental problems
using a community-based approach.  The basis was the concept of
a partnership among those who had a stake in urban development. 
The Foundation had published a book entitled"Partnership for a
Livable Environment" explaining community-based interventions and
the role of technical assistance therein. 220/ 

    During 1990 the Shanghai Supply and Marketing Co-operative,
recognized as one of the world's leaders in waste management,
agreed to provide technical assistance to the Co-operative Union
of the Philippines in order to undertake a waste recycling
programme. 221/ 

    The United States National Rural Electric Cooperative
Association created in 1962 an International Programs Division
which has sent more than 400 American rural electricity supply
specialists to 50 developing countries.  By 1993 rural
electricity services whose development was assisted by the
Association served over 36 million persons world-wide. The
technical assistance programme has been funded by the United
States Agency for International Development, the World Bank and
other funding agencies. 222/  In 1984 the Association began
promoting small hydropower development, and it has subsequently
undertaken a major biomass project in Bolivia, several solar
power projects in Bolivia and Central America, and wind power
projects in Central America. The biomass plant in Bolivia
comprised a 1.5 MW steam-powered generator powered by Brazil nut
shells and scraps from local sawmills. It would not only allow
modernization of the area's Brazil nut processing plants, but
would keep intact the rainforest area. 223/ 

    The United States organization Volunteers in Overseas Co-
operative Assistance (VOCA) includes environmental protection
through co-operative enterprise as one of the areas in which it
facilitates work by volunteers from the membership or staff of
American co-operative enterprises in projects undertaken by co-
operatives in developing countries.  For example, VOCA arranged
for a volunteer skilled in aerial seeding of forests to work with
Project Raintree in the Philippines. 224/

C.  Technical assistance provided by the United Nations system

    The International Labour Organisation's Co-operative Branch,
an element of the Enterprise and Co-operative Department,
recently published a study of key issues concerning co-operatives
and natural resources management, given that the Organization
gave considerable support to co-operative development and
considered that it had "a clear responsibility to develop
procedures for the identification of major environmental impacts
of its projects and to include measures which mitigate potential
negative consequences". 225/ 

210/ Review of International Co-operation, vol 85, No. 4 (1992).
     p. 146.
211/ Ibid., p. 139.
212/ ICA News, No. 3, 1992, p. 16.
213/ Jossy R. Bibangambah, loc.cit.
214/ Co-operative News International, No. 7, 1994, p. 3.
215/ Review of International Co-operation, vol. 83, No. 4
     (1990), p. 47.
216/ Review of International Co-operation, vol. 83, No. 2
     (1990), p. 88.
217/ Review of International Co-operationRIC, vol. 83, No. 4
     (1990), p. 48.
218/ ICA News, No. 1, 1991, p. 5.
219/ Communication from ICA, March 1994.
220/ ICA News, No. 3, 1992, p. 13.
221/ ICA News, No. 3, 1990, p. 2.
222/ ICA News, No. 1, 1993, p. 1.
223/ National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Brochure,
     n.d. (1994).
224/ Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance (VOCA),
     Brochure, n.d. (1994).
225/ International Labour Office, Cooperatives and natural  
     resources management: key issues and operational check-
     lists for screening the impact of cooperative development
     projects on the natural environment, Geneva, 1993.