Contribution of Co-ops to Platform for Action: Environment

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

              FOURTH WORLD CONFERENCE ON WOMEN : 
         ACTION FOR EQUALITY, DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE 
            BEIJING, CHINA, 4 - 15 SEPTEMBER 1995

       *****************************************************
        THE CONTRIBUTION OF CO-OPERATIVE BUSINESS ENTERPRISE
            AND THE INTERNATIONAL CO-OPERATIVE MOVEMENT
           TO ACHIEVEMENT OF THE STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES OF
                  THE DRAFT PLATFORM OF ACTION *
       *****************************************************

                      New York, March 1995


PREPARED JOINTLY, PURSUANT TO GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION 49/155,
       BY THE INTERNATIONAL CO-OPERATIVE ALLIANCE AND 
    THE UNITED NATIONS DEPARTMENT FOR POLICY COORDINATION 
                AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

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


I.   CONTRIBUTIONS OF CO-OPERATIVES TO THE STRATEGIC 
       OBJECTIVES OF THE DRAFT PLATFORM OF ACTION
-----------------------------------------------------

K. LACK OF ADEQUATE RECOGNITION AND SUPPORT FOR WOMEN'S
     CONTRIBUTION TO MANAGING NATURAL RESOURCES AND 
              SAFEGUARDING THE ENVIRONMENT
-------------------------------------------------------
Co-operative enterprises, possibly more than other types of
enterprises within the market, are able to contribute to
environmental rationality and societal sustainability. This is
so in particular because member-owners are able to control
business policies and practices and are empowered to ensure that
the operations of their co-operatives are environmentally
sustainable. In this way they are able to safeguard their own
long-term interests and those of their families and communities,
resident in the communities where the enterprise operates. Their
growing awareness of environmental issues during the last decade
is being rapidly translated into practical changes in enterprise
operation.

Agricultural, forestry and fisheries production co-operatives
already promote more sustainable froms of natural resource
management: in many developing countries the greater proportion
of their members are women. Rural purchasing, supply and
marketing co-operatives have also taken the lead in many
countries in supplying environmentally sensitive inputs, and in
marketing ecologically produced commodities to the consumer.
Women members of such co-operatives have played an important role
in the adoption of more sustainable approaches.

In Japan in 1991 the agricultural co-operative movement - of
which almost every rural household is a member, and in which
women have an important voice - adopted guidelines on
environmentally friendly agriculture and the supply of safe and
high quality food and other agricultural products.

Women have played a most important role in the taking of the lead
by consumer co-operatives in many countries in supplying
environmentally friendly products, monitored pollution levels,
recycled resources, lobbied local and national authorities,
networked with civil organizations and organized campaigns
requesting more effective national environmental policies. In
1992, the Japanese Consumers' Co-operatives Union adopted an
"Environmental 21" action plan and called for collaboration on
environmental issues between co-operative organizations
throughout the world, for this purpose holding a workshop jointly
with the ICA Consumer Committee and the International
Organization for Consumer Co-operative Distributive Trade
(INTERCO-OP) in May 1992.

Women members of housing co-operatives, health co-operatives,
savings and loans co-operatives, co-operative banks, co-operative
insurance enterprises and community development co-operatives
have played an important role in their adoption of
environmentally sensitive goals and practices.