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Happy International Co-operative Day! This July 7th we will mark the 96th International Co-operative Day and the 24th United Nations International Day of Co-operatives! 1.2 billion members of the co-operative movement will be celebrating the #CoopsDay under the theme, Sustainable consumption and production of goods and services and slogan, Sustainable societies through cooperation!

 

Why does Responsible Consumption and Production matter? According to the United Nations, if the global population reaches 9.6 billion by 2050, the equivalent of almost three planets will be required to sustain current lifestyles! We don’t have three planets where humans live; only one! In order to achieve economic growth and sustainable development we urgently need to change the way we produce and consume goods and resources. Another reason is the magnitude of food waste at the retail and consumer level and food losses along the production and supply chain. The FAO estimates that one third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally. That amounts to about 1.3 billion tons per year. This is a travesty of justice as almost 800 million people go hungry in a planet that easily produces enough food for everyone.

 

The question is not about producing more food. While globalization, urbanization and commercialization have brought significant changes to agricultural and food systems through scientific advances and capital-intensive schemes and by integrating supply chains and global agricultural markets; the benefits have not been uniform. Not included in these are smallholder producers, women and youth, in developing and under-developed countries. 

 

SDG12 strikes at the very core of sustainable development. SDG12 calls for a change in behavior as we are not consuming or producing sustainably and calls for everyone one to play their part in building a sustainable future for future generations.  Co-operatives have an important role to play in SDG 12 as the core of the membership consists of small and medium farmers and women and the preponderance of co-operatives in the agriculture and consumer sectors. The efficient management of natural resources, reduction of waste and sustainable patterns of consumption can help with food security and help the shift toward a resource efficient economy. As value-based and principle driven organizations, co-operative enterprises are by nature a sustainable and participatory form of business. Co-operatives foster democratic knowledge and practices and social inclusion. They have also shown resilience in the face of the economic and financial crises. There is a strong case for investing in co-operatives given the multi-dimensional nature of returns – economic, social and environmental - through the business enterprise rooted in collective action.

 

President Ariel Guarco in his message said, “On the International Day of Co-operatives, we are going to show the world that it is possible to grow with democracy, equity and social justice. That our societies cannot continue wasting resources and excluding people. That we must improve the present and preserve the future for the next generations. And that we are proud to be part of this movement. A movement with values and principles. A movement committed to social justice and environmental sustainability.” Let’s join him and the 1.2 billion members across the world to show our commitment to build sustainable societies through cooperation!