NCBA CLUSA represents U.S. co-op community at ICA’s 2015 Global Conference in Turkey

amy-ICA-500 03831amy-ICA-500 03831Speaking on women’s role in food security, advocacy techniques and on co-ops’ role in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, NCBA CLUSA represented the U.S. cooperative community and its best practices at the 2015 International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) Global Conference and General Assembly—Towards 2020, hosted in Turkey last month.

Amy Coughenour, COO of International Programs for NCBA CLUSA, spoke both to the role of women in food security for the Gender Committee, as well as on a panel on the role of co-ops in addressing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Alan Knapp, NCBA CLUSA’s Vice President of Advocacy, shared best practices in advocating for a favorable legal environment for co-ops, including NCBA CLUSA’s role in establishing platforms on the federal level such as the Interagency Working Group on Cooperatives in partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture. The coordination of cooperative initiatives at the government level helps to forward the co-op model across industries.

“Representation and advocacy are essential to create a political environment in which cooperatives can thrive,” Knapp said during his presentation on legal frameworks at the conference. “While cooperative sectors are all inherently different and represent different sectors of the economy, we come together to promote the cooperative business model as a viable market solution and business option that can help solve a number of today’s policy challenges.”

alan-ICA-500 8ff64alan-ICA-500 8ff64Some of those policy challenges include the new global mandate of the Sustainable Development Goals. Cooperatives, including the more than 40,000 in the U.S. alone, that NCBA CLUSA represents to Congress, are some of the best vehicles for achieving the SDGs around the world.

“Cooperatives can be some of the best partners for tackling the SDGs,” Coughenour said on a panel discussing cross-sector partnerships. “Co-ops add value across industries in bringing farmers and producers to markets, and providing a structure for communities to advance their own development.”

Much of NCBA CLUSA’s work abroad focuses on tackling SDG #2—End Hunger, Achieve Food Security, Nutrition and Sustainable Agriculture—where co-ops are a sustainable vehicle for development. But co-ops in the U.S. and abroad can easily partner with communities and governments to affect many of the SDGs. From governance and equality to economic development and sustainability, co-ops are using their concern for community to fuel important initiatives, such as the sustainability efforts outlined by Robyn Shrader, CEO of NCBA CLUSA Member National Co+op Grocers.

As part of the conference, ICA members were asked to make specific commitments to one or more of the SDGs over the next year, including aligning priorities on the SDGs for the 2016 International Day of Co-operatives, which will be held on July 2, 2016.

Held every two years, more than 2,000 people attend the ICA Global Conference and General Assembly, which meets over four days to discuss best practices from cooperatives around the world and vote for a two-year term ICA President. For 2015 – 2017, the General Assembly voted in Desjardins Group CEO Monique Leroux as president of the ICA. This year’s theme, Towards 2020, focused on implementing the Blueprint for a Cooperative Decade’s vision of having co-ops be leaders in sustainable business by 2020.

(December 1, 2015)



Co-op leaders address sustainability, empowerment at ICA’s 2015 Global Conference

ncg-coop-forest-peru 0702cncg-coop-forest-peru 0702cA farmer displays a fledgling tree at the edge of the Co+op Forest in Peru. In their remarks at the International Co-operative Alliance’s 2016 Global Conference and General Assembly, held in Antalya, Turkey last month, representatives of the cooperative sector in the U.S. made the case for increased sustainability and greater public awareness of the global movement.

In her presentation, CEO of National Co+op Grocers Robynn Shrader unpacked the organization’s new sustainability program, called Co+efficient—an online portal that helps food co-ops achieve and track sustainability. As co-ops submit answers to preloaded questions, the program automatically calculates metrics, such as the co-op’s greenhouse gas emissions or landfill diversion rate.

NCG’s retail food co-ops—all of whom participate in the program—can also create dashboards and reports that show data trends over multiple years and compare their performance with other co-ops of similar size or in similar climates. NGC compiles the data into infographics that are easy to incorporate into co-ops’ annual reporting, consumer-facing websites and other channels of communication.

“The most exciting part about Co+efficient is that it allows us to leverage data to improve our impact in a strategic way because we can begin to see in near real-time the effect of individual co-ops’ activities,” Shrader said.

“These benchmark comparisons over time and between co-ops can help us understand where there is opportunity for improvement,” she added.

NCG’s three sustainability impact areas—environmental, economic and social—mirror the three pillars of sustainability, as defined by the ICA. The theme of the association’s 2015 Global Conference and General Assembly, Towards 2020, focused on realizing the Blueprint for a Cooperative Decade’s vision of having co-ops be leaders in sustainable business by 2020.

Using Co+efficient, NCG is also tracking its own suitability metrics. To offset greenhouse gas emissions associated with employee air travel and ground transportation, as well as electric utilities used in its main office, NCG partnered with an international environmental organization called Pur Projet to establish the Co+op Forest—a living forest in the Peruvian rainforest that offsets its carbon emissions.

Since 2013, Shrader said, NCG has planted 4,700 native trees in a deforested region of Peru and protected an additional estimated 800,000 trees by conserving 1,600 acres in a highly bio-diverse old growth forest.

The forest is contributing to economic sustainability by working with two fair trade, organic farmer cooperatives that help local farmers use sustainable agroforestry techniques to produce chocolate, coffee, honey and FSC-certified timber. These efforts not only contribute to land regeneration, but also provide the community with diverse and reliable income sources. NCG’s co-ops in the U.S. stock some of these products on their store shelves, embodying co-op-to-co-op collaboration.

Touching on NCG’s commitment to social sustainability, Shrader explained that the Co+op Forest is located in a region that was devastated by the drug trade during the 1980s—the surrounding communities suffered from drug-related violence and the land was deforested using slash and burn techniques to clear land for coca production.

“Co+op Forest is really helping to support an important alternative to producing coca, and helping the region to not only recover from environmental damage, but also retain social stability as well,” Shrader said.

NCG is on track to protect more than 1 million trees in the Co+op Forest as early as 2016, she added.

Also during the ICA’s 2016 Global Conference and General Assembly, Howard Brodsky, CEO of CCA Global Partners, expanded his challenge to build a better world through cooperative business. The cooperative business model is superior—contributing to stronger communities, more sustainable businesses and more empowered owners—but traditional capitalism continues to dominate the economy because “the cooperative message is confusing and public awareness is low,” he said.

To scale up growth and success, the cooperative movement needs a unified message that explains the ‘why’ driving co-ops, not the ‘what.’ “Great companies tell why they do what they do,” Brodsky said. Under his vision, cooperatives would unite to propel the cooperative movement forward while still maintaining their uniqueness, and each cooperative sector would benefit from increased exposure and growth. Click here to watch Brodsky’s launch video, unveiled at NCBA CLUSA’s 2015 Annual Cooperatives Conference in Washington, D.C. earlier this year.

Brodsky’s presentation in Turkey last month marked the international launch of Cooperatives for a Better World.

(December 1, 2015) features Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance in its #SolidarityCities project

paca-logo 8d9cdpaca-logo 8d9cdThe latest installment in’s #SolidarityCities project features the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance (PACA) and explores how Philadelphia-based co-ops and other organizations contribute to local economic solidarity. PACA is the most recent cross-sector cooperative alliance in the U.S. to organize as a Cooperative Business Association (CBA) and in October was the recipient of a $25,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to boost local food production and distribution. NCBA CLUSA is the national convener of CBAs.

Click here to read the full report.

(December 1, 2015)

Washington, D.C. residents organize first solar cooperative east of Anacostia River

home-solar-500 818dbhome-solar-500 818dbWashington, D.C. residents living east of the Anacostia River are organizing the region’s first solar cooperative with support from DC Sun, an advocacy group that works with communities to develop solar co-ops that lower the cost and simplify the process of going solar. In the past year, the organization has helped 175 homes go solar, saving residents close to $500,000. In a recent article, DCist explains why the cooperative business model is appealing to skeptical residents.

Click here to read the full article.

Co-ops key to economic growth, Helen Godfrey-Smith says in HuffPo op-ed

helen-godfrey-smith-marks-web f7dcchelen-godfrey-smith-marks-web f7dcc
In a new op-ed for the Huffington Post, NCBA CLUSA board member and CEO of Shreveport Federal Credit Union Helen Godfey-Smith writes about the recent opening of the Delta Regional Mule Train Co-op Market and how cooperatives are revitalizing the economy in historic Marks, Mississippi.
Click here to read the full article.


Thu Mar 22 17:24:17 +0000 2018

RT @FeedtheFuture: Happy #WorldWaterDay! Water is crucial for agriculture & food security. #FeedtheFuture
Thu Mar 22 17:20:13 +0000 2018

RT @SNCFsg: A good reflection piece for co-ops, big or small.
Thu Mar 22 17:19:03 +0000 2018

Dieynaba Gueye was able to invest in a #water pump after investing in chickens in #Senegal as part of the…



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