Environment and Sustainable Development

***The Environment and Sustainable Development***

**Report to the 1992 ICA Congress**


1.  Background

While  the deteriorating condition of the natural environment has been a
concern of many ICA member organisations for a considerable period of time,
the topic first appeared on the agenda of the ICA itself during the 1990
Central Committee meeting in Madrid.

Following an extensive discussion, members adopted a resolution which
expressed their concern about the critical state of the environment,
stressed the inter-related nature of environment and development issues,
and called upon ICA member organisations to "join in local, national,
regional and international efforts to address the issues of environment and
development, and take measures to stop the degradation of the human and
natural environment."  ICA was asked to serve as a centre of information
exchange in this area.

In conjunction with the United Nations Conference on the Environment and
Development in Brazil in June 1992, ICA coordinated a co-operative
participation which included presentation of a co-operative position paper
to the U.N. conference, holding of a two-day co-operative seminar at the
parallel meeting of non-governmental organisations, facilitating a
co-operative exhibition organised by the ICA Consumer Committee and member
organisations, publication of a special environment newsletter, and
participation in seminars organised by other organisations.

2.  Co-operatives in the Asia-Pacific Region

During recent years the ICA Regional Office for Asia-Pacific, along with
many of the 56 national organisations affiliated to ICA in the region, have
undertaken a number of initiatives.

The Asia-Pacific region has major environmental problems.  With over half
of the world's total population, and almost three-quarters of the world's
agricultural population, the region has less than one-third of the world's
arable and permanently cropped land.  The population of the region is
expected to have doubled from 1980 levels by the year 2000.  Faced with the
twin problems of population pressure and land scarcity, the region's main
response has been to increase agricultural production by intensifying
cultivation on a more-or-less fixed land resource base.  But there are
questions about whether this continued growth in agriculture, fisheries,
and forestry development can be continued in a sustainable and
environmentally-sound manner.

Two particularly acute problems are deforestation and use of pesticides.
Deforestation is greatest in Indonesia, with a mean annual deforestation of
over half a million hectares, followed by Thailand, Malaysia, India, Laos,
and Philippines.  In 1985 the Asia-Pacific region accounted for 16 percent
of the world's pesticide market.  By 1995 developing countries in the
region are expected to double their expenditures on pesticides, thereby
increasing the negative effects on human health, the environment, and pest

In 1990 the ICA Regional Office published a small brochure, entitled "A
Place to Live", written by Dr. Daman Prakash, the office's Development
Planning and Coordination adviser.  This attempt to sensitise co-operative
members in the region has already been translated and published in
Japanese, Hindi, Urdu, Bahasa Indonesia, and serialised in many
co-operative journals in the region.  Co-operative movements are also
beginning their own programmes.  Dr. Prakash has contributed this report on
their activities to the Congress.

(a)     India

The Indian Farmers' Fertiliser Co-operative Limited (IFFCO) has launched a
farm forestry project designed to demonstrate the viability of
afforestation on waste-land and sub-marginal lands.
To date 33 primary co-operative societies have been organised and 4,040
hectares of waste-land have been put under green cover.  The co-operatives
provide irrigation facilities, product marketing, and educational
programmes for their members.

The National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) has initiated a pilot project
on Tree-Growers' Co-operatives in five states.  More than 100 co-operatives
have been registered and 1.75 million trees planted.  The co-operatives
have emphasised training programmes for members, and particularly for

(b)     Philippines

The National Confederation of Co-operatives (NATCCO) has actively
encouraged its member co-operatives to introduce environment-friendly
programmes, including use of organic fertilisers.  It is considering adding
a new requirement for membership in a co-operative--a promise to plant an
agreed number of trees.

The Co-operative Union of the Philippines (CUP) and its members are
initiating programmes for water resource recovery and utilisation.  CUP is
preparing model co-operative by-laws that include environment protection,
and is including environment protection in co-operative training materials.

The National Market Vendor's Service Co-operative has begun collaboration
with local governments to improve health and sanitation standards in the
public and private markets where its members operate, and is promoting a
biodegradable laundry soap ('Co-op Soap") which is sold at prices lower
than the leading brands.  The Philippine Federation of Credit Co-operatives
is advising farmers and fishermen to use organic fertilisers and
appropriate fishing methods.

(c)     Thailand

Reforestation has become the main area of environmental activity among
co-operatives in Thailand.  The government's Co-operative Promotion
Department has encouraged land settlement co-operatives to undertake
reforestation activities.  The planting of bamboo trees in idle public land
will improve land fertility as well as members' incomes.  In other areas
the planting of fruit and teak trees is being promoted.  By 1991 the
project had resulted in the planting of some three million trees.

Rural electric co-operatives are another important vehicle to improve
people's awareness of forestry protection at the same time as they produce
an important product.  Members of rural electric co-operatives have learnt
that a healthy forest will build up the watershed that will in turn enable
them to generate electricity.

(d)     People's Republic of China

The All-China Federation of Supply and Marketing Co-operatives has taken
the lead in promoting the recovery and utilisation of waste materials.  The
Shanghai Resource Recovery and Utilisation Company, a co-operative
subsidiary, is the country's leader in waste resource recovery.  At present
16 categories of reclaimable waste material are processed and
recycled--scrap ferrous and non-ferrous metals, rubber, plastics, paper,
cotton, hemp, rags, chemical residues, domestic animal bones, human hair,
glass bottles, machines, machine parts, and acids.

Since its establishment in 1956 the company has reclaimed more than 37
million tons of waste materials with a value of more than 12.6 billion
Yuan.  The re-use of these materials has saved an amount of energy
comparable to 23.62 million tons of standard coal.

In March 1991 the All-China Federation of Supply and Marketing
Co-operatives and the ICA Regional Office jointly organised a regional
training workshop on waste resource recycling.  Participants from India,
Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Thailand were able to study how grass-roots
supply and marketing co-operatives in China have been able to organise and
manage the extensive network of waste material purchasing stations that are
required for such a programme.  The All-China Federation and ICA have
agreed to follow up the workshop with technical assistance missions to
Thailand and Philippines in order to assist these co-operative movements to
establish their own waste resource recycling programmes.

(d)     Future Work

The ICA Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, in collaboration with the
Canadian Co-operative Association, has decided to undertake an in-depth
study of five countries in the region--India, Indonesia, Thailand,
Philippines, and Japan.  The study will be a participatory exercise with
ICA member organisaed by the Board, subtions in these countries designed to
document the current involvement of co-operatives in dealing with
environmental issues and to establish national and regional plans for
future action.  The study should also have an important educational benefit
for co-operatives throughout the region.

3.      Environmental Problems and Japanese Co-operative Movements

(a)     Background

Members of four sectors of Japanese co-operatives--agricultural, forest
owners, fishery, and consumers--have prepared a report for the Tokyo
Congress in order to demonstrate their commitment that co-operatives must
play a leading role in environment conservation activities, in harmony with
sustainable development.  Japanese co-operatives are committed to
supporting environment programmes from a family, regional, national, and
global level.

In the course of its modernisation, Japan has experienced many
pollution problems.  From the Meiji Restoration in 1868 until the
end of World War II in 1945, industrial development and military
expansion took precedence, thereby causing many pollution problems
including the greatest destroyer of the environment--war.  During
the post-war period, high economic growth was combined with an
explosive increase in all kinds of industrial pollution as well as
urbanisation.  Japan became known as a "Pollution Archipelago".

The two oil crises in 1973 and 1978 forced Japan to reconsider its
mode of economic growth based on mass energy consumption. 
Government and industry standards were introduced and strengthened. 
Japan's standards for automobile emissions became the strictest in
the world, thereby accelerating the development of automobiles with
low fuel consumption and low pollution.  Japanese people began to
reflect upon their consumption-oriented society and values.

Although the environmental situation has improved considerably through
pollution prevention measures, the destruction of the natural environment
continues in many areas.  Air and water pollution have increased since
1986.  Disposal of industrial and domestic waste--the "garbage war"--is a
serious problem.  Building of resorts and highways have further damaged
land and wildlife.  Rural industries--agriculture, forestry, and
fisheries--are suffering from the effects of urbanisation and pollution.

(b)     The Global Challenge

At the Earth Summit, the Japanese government expressed its intention to
contribute to the establishment of an international framework, including
increased development assistance, to deal with global environmental
problems.  The Federation of Economic Organisations has established a
charter designed to limit the export of pollution.  At the 1992 Global
Forum, Japan announced an "Earth Charter" of Japanese citizens, based on
the following concept:  "We who live in the materially affluent countries
of the north must, first of all, endeavour to mend our own wasteful life
styles and at the same time spare no effort to extend assistance to the
people of the countries of the south who have been cornered as a result of
our material desire to grope for a new way of life...."

(c)     Environmental Problems and Japanese Co-operatives

Since 1988 agricultural co-operatives in Japan have been committed to "3-H
Agriculture"--healthy, high quality, and high technology.  They and their
members are involved in improving soil productivity and reducing the amount
of fertilizer used; reducing the use of chemicals; safety and hazard
prevention measures; development of new fertilizers; and development of
livestock treatment facilities and materials.  In mountainous regions, the
area of newly-cultivated land is on the increase.

Forest-owners' co-operatives are leading the effort to replant the
country's forests.  They are also carrying out thinning operations and
processing small-diameter wood in order to maintain healthy forests.  In
1989 the national convention of forest owners' co-operatives adopted a
resolution aimed at "enlivening forests" by promoting the growth of
mushrooms and edible wild plants, as well as other techniques to make the
forests accessible and useful to people.

Since 1983 Japanese fisheries co-operatives have been committed to the
stand that "fishermen themselves will tackle the question of environment
conservation in a more positive manner".  Under their present three-year
action programme, fisheries co-operatives have established an environment
conservation and monitoring system for fishing grounds, have created an
environment assessment system, have opposed the use of synthetic
detergents, and have promoted the planting of trees.

Consumers' co-operatives have developed a uniform slogan of "Let us Watch
our Life and the Earth".  They have developed more than 180
environment-friendly products.  In 1991 the Japanese Consumers'
Co-operative Union sold 7 billion Yen worth of merchandise made from
recycled paper.  A co-operative electric car development company was
established with investments from 50 consumers' co-operatives throughout
the country.  Shops operated by the agricultural and fisheries
co-operatives are also emphasizing recycled and environment-friendly

(d)     Co-operative Members' Participation

Co-operative organisations' efforts have been based on the premise that
their members must become directly involved in environment problems in
their daily life and consumption.  Since the 1970s, women's associations
from all sectors have carried out a "Water/Environment Protection" drive
based on monitoring the discharge of domestic waste water and exchanging
information on the life style that causes water pollution.  Agricultural
co-operatives have offered rice-planting and vacation village opportunities
for the children of members of consumers' co-operatives living in cities.
Fishery co-operative members and officials have been carrying out a
beach-cleaning campaign.  Forest owners' co-operative associations are
inviting city people into the forests for pruning and educational

Consumers' co-operatives alone recovered 120 million milk packages from
their members during their 1991 recycling drive.  They are promoting member
awareness and understanding by organising study tours to water treatment
and sewage treatment plants, organising environment funds, and conducting
their own simple measurement tests of acid rain and air pollution.

(e)     Co-operatives' Basic View of Environmental Problems

Co-operatives in Japan declare that their 25 million members will, through
a united effort, intensify their campaigns and environmental activities in
every field of their business operations and will make every effort to
strengthen global solidarity and international relationships between
co-operatives in different countries of the world.

Co-operatives, established for the purpose of enabling members to meet
their basic needs, have social responsibilities to create communities in
which people can enjoy a high quality of life.  The environment is part of
the social responsibility of co-operatives.  Concrete actions must be
implemented in many ways: economic business activities, people's
participation, and national and international co-operation.

However, as there is a limit to the environment conservation activities
that co-operatives can carry out themselves, it is important to obtain
co-operation of governmental authorities and
other businesses, as well as wide-ranging popular support.

(f)     Co-operatives' Environmental Plans

Through study courses, the 25 million members of Japanese co-operatives
will learn about the effect of the environment on their daily lives, and
will launch a drive for consumption practises that protect the environment.
They will also participate in fund-raising campaigns to support the effort
of developing countries for sustainable development.

In their business activities the agriculture, forestry,  fisheries, and
consumer  co-operatives will emphasize production technologies, pricing
policies, products, distribution systems, and other techniques which will
strengthen the long-term future of these industries.

Given their increasing concern about high population increases and a
worsening environment in Asia, Japanese co-operatives are determined to
participate positively in environment consevation movements of
co-operatives in Asian countries who are in need of development.

Japanese co-operatives will give positive assistance to the International
Co-operative Alliance for its role, in collaboration with environment
efforts of co-operatives at the global level, to strengthen international
co-operative collaboration towards a sustainable "common future".

Japanese co-operatives will participate in environment/development
activities organised by ICA in such areas as exchange of information and
experience, regional workshops, development of action programmes, supply of
technologies, and development of human resources.

As well, a promotional system consisting of the four co-operative
sectors--agriculture, forest owners', fishery, and consumers'
co-operatives-- will be establshed to promote co-operatives' environmental
efforts.  A "Co-operative Environment Campaign Fund" will be established to
support co-operatives' domestic and international environment activities.

4.      Co-operative Values and Development Aid

(a)     Background

This paper, prepared by Hans-H. Munkner of Marburg University, Germany,
emphasises the need for continued efforts to strengthen the development of
independent, autonomous co-operatives that are capable of responding to the
needs and interests of their members.

For decades development assistance to co-operatives has mainly meant aid to
state-controlled co-operatives in highly centralised, paternalistic, and
bureaucratic regimes.  These organisations had little in common with the
ideal of voluntary, self-reliant, self-managed, member oriented, and
democratically-controlled self-help organisations--which co-operative
societies should be if they follow co-operative principles and respect the
basic co-operative values.

During the colonial period, state-sponsored and state-controlled
co-operatives were introduced to bring local people closer to the norms and
values of their colonial masters--without, however, granting them the
independence and autonomy to make their own decisions.  After independence,
the newly-established governments continued to use co-operatives as
development tools and control mechanisms, applying the same or similar
rules as the former colonial administrations.

Development agencies and non-governmental organisations have also used
co-operatives as instruments for channelling their aid and technical
assistance to target groups of their choice, with goals and priorities
fixed by the donors in agreement with recipient governments.  Again, such
co-operatives were seen by the local population as alien institutions,
following their own foreign rules and measures, which had to be accepted
and applied not because they were considered to be reasonable and useful
but rather as a pre-condition to qualify for external aid.

Autonomous, self-managed co-operatives, operating with their members' own
resources to achieve goals set by their members and democratically
controlled by them, although proclaimed as the ultimate objective of all
development efforts, have been and still are the exception rathern than the

(b)     Co-operative Values and External Aid

Promoting co-operatives means helping co-operators to help themselves.
However, the idea of "aided self-help" is an ambiguous concept and
difficult to put into practice.  How to give co-operatives aid and
encouragement without negative effects on their independence and
self-reliance remains an open question.  It is especially unclear how far
and for how long government assstance to co-operatives should go, and
whether it can be effective at all.

In theory policy-makers and development planners accept basic co-operative
values.  In practise, however, things look different.  Although it is
agreed in principle that co-operatives should ultimately become autonomous,
self-help organisations, government is not prepared to reduce its powers
over co-operatives.  Even though co-operatives are to promote the economic
interests of their members, often they are expected and even forced to work
also in the public interest--especially in the case of co-operative produce
marketing societies.  While supposed to follow the principle of voluntary
membership, co-operatives are sometimes given monopolies for supply and
marketing of certain commodities, making membership a must.  Finally,
democratic control becomes impossible when strict government powers leave
little room for self-management.

(c)     Government Policy

Governments' co-operative development policies are frequently based on
inconsistent and unrealistic assumptions. With few exceptions co-operative
legislation dating back to colonial times has not been thoroughly amended.
In many countries government officials are underpaid, demotivated
inspectors with a paternalistic and bureaucratic approach to their work.
Often development aid is equated to investment in physical structures such
as buildings, processing plants, and equipment.  Short-term, isolated
education and training programmes without follow-up are usually

(d)     Instruments of Self-Help Promotion

Experience has shown that government services used in the past for
initiating, supervising, and controlling co-operatives cannot be easily
transformed into instruments for the promotion of self-reliant

The actual tasks of self-help promotion--information, education, training,
advice--require specialists experienced in co-operative extension work,
adult education, and co-operative management--i.e. a corps of professional
self-help promotors which need either attractive service conditions as a
specialised branch of government administration or to operate outside
government structures in an autonomous, co-operative service centre.  If
such co-operative service centres were financed by the proceeds of trust
funds (provided by foreign donors) and fees charged for their services, and
if they were structured in such a way that co-operatives could take over
such centres (for example by buying shares until they hold the majority),
mistakes of the past could be avoided.

Promoting the development of self-reliant co-operatives is a process that
works through a combination of instruments which have to be simultaneously
applied.  The exact combination depends on the stage of development and
local conditions, and can only be determined on a case-by-case basis.

In his book "Self-Help Promotion", Koenraad Verhagen mentions a total of
eight instruments for self-help promotion.  They include identification of
target groups, participatory research and planning, education and mutual
training in self-help promotion, resource provision, management
consultancy, linkage-building with third parties, process extension
(spreading the knowledge about good ideas), and movement building (vertical
and horizantal integration).

(e)     Consequences for Development Strategies
For the past several years structural adjustment has been seen by
development agencies as a precondition for overcoming stagnation and
decline.  This includes reducing government expenditures, decreasing
government tasks, simplifying administrative procedures, liberalising
markets, and encouraging private initiatives.  Although structural
adjustment programmes bring hardship mainly to the poorest strata of the
popuation, they also offer citizens the chance to take their destiny in
their own hands and to use their newly-acquired autonomy to form self-help
organisations (co-operatives, associations, pressure groups, trade unions,
and political parties) to protect their legitimate interests.

The basic co-operative values--such as self- help and mutual assistance,
liberty and voluntariness, equity and democracy--are identical with most of
the general ideas underlying structural adjustment programmes.  At the same
time the reduction of government influence and control remove the main
obstacles in the way of the development of self-reliant co-operatives.
However, if donors of development aid want to promote self-reliant
co-operatives operating in line with basic co-operative values, they have
to reorient their programmes and projects for co-operative development.
They will have to abandon technical and financial assistance to government
services and other bureaucratic institutions, and instead use instruments
appropriate for the promotion of self-reliant, member-based co-operatives.

In a paper on the role of ICA in promoting co-operative development in West
Africa, former Regional Director Babacar N'Diaye stated that, "The main
objective of the ICA policy is the creation and expansion of independent,
democratic, and economically-viable organisations in which men and women
can participate on an equal footing.  These organisations should be capable
of serving their members efficiently and contribute to social justice in
the respective country."

For donors of development aid to co-operatives, this means that the working
conditions and the climate for co-operative societies have to be improved
by way of dialogue between the self-help promotors on the one hand and the
policy-makers, development planners, and administrators on the other.
Links have to be established among these actors.

Co-operatives have to be recognised by government as private self-help
organisations and as a positive economic and social force promoting
primarily the well-being of their members but also contributing
considerably to the overall development of the country.

Based on empirical research, and in dialogue between self-help promotors
and the potential members, appropriate forms of self-help have to be
identified.  In this way self-help promotors have to be trained to act as
development entrepreneurs and cosultants who can identify opportunities to
mobilise local resources, which the members of co-operatives can produce
for their own benefit.  FAO's AMSAC programme (Appropriate Management
System for Agricultural Co-operatives) could serve as a guide for a
constructive co-operative development policy and for aid to co-operatives
which does not have negative effects on their independence.