Whether adapting to or mitigating climate change, cooperatives have set the agenda to collectively provide solutions to the impending impact of rising temperatures, loss of jobs, depletion of water resources, degradation of land and forest resources and accumulation of waste leading to health risks.
The explicit adoption of eco-social agendas by cooperatives contributes to the viability and vitality of cooperatives, providing a basis for positive differentiation and for stronger links with important groups, stakeholders and strategic allies. .
Dhundi village in Kheda district of Gujarat had formed the world’s first solar irrigation cooperative as Dhundi Saur Urja Utpadak Sahakari Mandali (DSUUSM) in 2016. Solar energy provides power to run irrigation pumps, water for farms, livestock, homes and income by selling excess energy back to the grids. The members of this cooperative society are solar entrepreneurs who harvest solar energy. This has enabled them to reap a better crop and they are connected to the grid for additional income. Cooperatives like DSUUSM in India are taking meaningful action to achieve SDG 13 on climate change and renewable energy.
Satara CORO Water Cooperative in Maharashtra is working to relieve the water-dried village of Panvan by regenerating wells and improving water levels. Women have taken a leadership role in water conservation, 90 women from 10 talukas set up the Water School (Panni Shala), which provides training to the community to collectively solve the water crisis. water and embrace water conservation.
Indian Farm Forestry Development Co-operative (India), the apex cooperative, is converting wasteland to forest in three north-central Indian states, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Swachh is India’s first cooperative 100% owned by independent waste pickers and other urban poor in Pune.
It is an autonomous company whose vision is to be a socially just, economically equitable, culturally plural, politically democratic, ecologically sustainable, peaceful and humane society. The cooperative collects waste, raises awareness, separates it and composts it. The Independent Women’s Association (SEWA) interventions on environment, climate, water, clean energy and awareness are relevant now and support our national goals to be achieved by 2030 .
The cooperatives have provided alternative sources of drinking water to metropolitan communities and contribute to achieving sustainable goals of energy access, energy efficiency and emission reductions. In many parts of the world, they are also paving the way for the use of new and renewable energies such as solar and wind power. Cooperatives contribute to the sustainable management of natural resources in several ways. These include ensuring that natural resources are not depleted and providing a forum for local people to find information about environmental changes by defining their ownership and use rights, conserving resources resources and diversifying their economic activities to include green economic enterprises.
Apex organizations like AMUL, IFFCO, and NAFED have diversified into organic agriculture by supporting cooperatives in certifying production, adhering to food safety, and linking to market-driven value chains. Initiatives of this type have made cooperatives oriented towards natural and organic agriculture and are all ready to meet the demand for organic products.
The potential and value of cooperatives’ contribution to designing and achieving environmental sustainability seems to have been overlooked by policy makers at different levels due to their lack of visibility.
Cooperatives should concentrate their efforts on the goals and objectives to which they are best suited. They must do so by putting their most significant competitive advantage on the table, namely their dual status of association and company, as well as the complementarity of their triple role: economic, social and societal.
There is a need to build the capacity of cooperative members to understand the widespread impact of climate change and environmental degradation. Reaching out to cooperatives to raise awareness of environmental issues, training in adaptation and mitigation, forging alliances to work together, investing in cooperative enterprises and innovations are necessary to have a green agenda for a sustainable future.
The authors are Director and Professor, respectively, VAMNICOM
June 05, 2022