Co-op News June 2023

The June edition of Co-op News: connecting, challenging and championing the global co-operative movement. This issue we look at co-ops and sustainability, including an update on calls to change the co-operative identity and principles to include the environment, a report on sustainable practices at Suma Wholefoods, and the difficulties of balancing production and the needs of the environment in the energy and dairy sectors. Plus a round-up of annual results in the UK retail sector, and reports from the Swoboda Research Conference on credit unions and Stir to Action's Playground for the New Economy festival

The June edition of Co-op News: connecting, challenging and championing the global co-operative movement. This issue we look at co-ops and sustainability, including an update on calls to change the co-operative identity and principles to include the environment, a report on sustainable practices at Suma Wholefoods, and the difficulties of balancing production and the needs of the environment in the energy and dairy sectors.

Plus a round-up of annual results in the UK retail sector, and reports from the Swoboda Research Conference on credit unions and Stir to Action's Playground for the New Economy festival


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JUNE <strong>2023</strong><br />




Plus … UK retail societies<br />

publish annual results ... 10<br />

years of RESco<strong>op</strong> ... Land<br />

justice and the future of<br />

farming... Can co-<strong>op</strong>s keep up<br />

with the green transition?<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

770009 982010<br />

01<br />

£4.20<br />


Mercure Manchester Piccadilly Hotel<br />

Manchester | 16 and 17 <strong>June</strong><br />

The conference for the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Movement, our<br />

brilliant line-up of speakers includes:<br />

• Lisa Nandy MP<br />

• <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group CEO Shirine Khoury-Haq<br />

• Actor and disability campaigner Cherylee Houston<br />

• Lord Victor Adebowale<br />

• And many more...<br />


<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s, the environment and<br />

sustainability<br />




Holyoake House, Hanover Street,<br />

Manchester M60 0AS<br />

(00) 44 161 214 0870<br />

www.thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />

editorial@thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />


Rebecca Harvey | rebecca@thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />


Anca Voinea | anca@thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />


Miles Hadfield | miles@thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />


Alice Toomer-McAlpine<br />

alice@thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />

DESIGN<br />

Andy Bellis | andy@thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />


Elaine Dean (chair); David Paterson<br />

(vice-chair); Sofygil Crew; Tim Hartley;<br />

Phil Hartwell; Gillian Lonergan; Nick<br />

Milton; Beverley Perkins; Shaz<br />

Rahman; Lesley Reznicek<br />

Secretary: Richard Bickle<br />

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@co<strong>op</strong>news<br />

co<strong>op</strong>erativenews<br />

CBP013875<br />

World Environment Day was established in <strong>June</strong> 1972 by the United Nations<br />

at the Stockholm <strong>Co</strong>nference on the Human Environment. One year later,<br />

the first World Environment Day was held with the theme ‘Only One Earth’.<br />

The <strong>2023</strong> World Environment Day – held on 5 <strong>June</strong> – will focus on solutions<br />

to plastic pollution. But it’s not the only upcoming date for your diary. The<br />

<strong>2023</strong> International Day of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives (1 July) focuses on sustainability –<br />

for pe<strong>op</strong>le and planet – ahead of September, which marks the halfway point<br />

for the implementation of the Sustainable Devel<strong>op</strong>ment Goals (SDGs).<br />

This issue we gather these themes together and look at how co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

around the world are active in the areas of the environment and sustainability,<br />

especially in the face of a accumulating crises.<br />

The International <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Alliance (ICA) has long been active in<br />

sustainability and the environment; these themes are not currently codified<br />

in the principles it guards, but there have been calls for this to change in<br />

the organisations’ recent consultations on the co-<strong>op</strong> identity (p38-39).<br />

For some co-<strong>op</strong>s and their members, the changes needed to become<br />

more sustainable are easier to implement – as for wholefood pioneer<br />

Suma (p42-43). For others, particularly those in the energy and dairy<br />

industries, keeping up with the green transition is proving trickier<br />

(p40-41).<br />

Meanwhile, other co-<strong>op</strong>s are helping to devel<strong>op</strong> tools to monitor<br />

and calculate sustainability (p46-47), while others are focusing on<br />

important research in this area (p36-37).<br />

For the UK’s retail co-<strong>op</strong>s – most of whom have recently published<br />

their annual results (p5-9) – sustainability is an area of great importance<br />

to them and their members. It’s another challenge to be faced.<br />

But, as <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group CEO Shirine Khoury-Haq said at the<br />

organisations’ AGM, “one thing we do have that the rest of our<br />

competitors don’t is the power of co-<strong>op</strong>eration.”<br />


<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative <strong>News</strong> is printed using vegetable oil-based inks<br />

on 80% recycled paper (with 60% from post-consumer waste)<br />

with the remaining 20% produced from FSC or PEFC certified<br />

sources. It is made in a totally chlorine free process.<br />

JUNE <strong>2023</strong> | 3

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

9 770009 982010<br />

01<br />



UK retail co-<strong>op</strong>s – including Heart of<br />

England – publish their annual results<br />

(p5-9); New study finds unconventional<br />

forms of resilience in African co- <strong>op</strong>s’<br />

<strong>Co</strong>vid response (p17); Suma sustainability<br />

reporting coordinator, Ben Pearson<br />

(p42-43); RESco<strong>op</strong> celebrated its 10th<br />

anniversary at its <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Energy<br />

Spring Gathering in Athens (p34-35); <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

Group AGM (p28-29)<br />

JUNE <strong>2023</strong><br />




Plus … UK retail societies<br />

publish annual results ... 10<br />

years of RESco<strong>op</strong> ... Land<br />

justice and the future of<br />

farming... Can co-<strong>op</strong>s keep up<br />

with the green transition?<br />

www.thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />

£4.20<br />

COVER: Re-greening a continent<br />

Derese, who lives in the Metema<br />

region of Ethi<strong>op</strong>ia, relies on his local<br />

frankincense forest to provide an<br />

alternative, climate-resilient source<br />

of income. The forest is in danger<br />

of disappearing – but participatory<br />

forest management co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

are helping preserve it<br />

Read more: p44-45<br />


How did the UK’s retail societies fare<br />

against the challenges of 2022?<br />



High h<strong>op</strong>es, hard choices discussed at<br />

the Group’s AGM in Manchester<br />



Stir to Action’s urban event for those<br />

working on the ideas and action needed<br />

to drive us into the “new economy”<br />


“Credit unions need to work harder to<br />

avoid falling behind”<br />

34-35 10 YEARS OF RESCOOP<br />

The federation of citizen energy co-<strong>op</strong>s:<br />

pioneers of Eur<strong>op</strong>e’s renewable energy<br />

transition<br />



Q&A with Naomi Terry, researcher whose<br />

most recent project involved working for<br />

the Ecological Land <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative (ELC)<br />

38-39 CO-OP PRINCIPLES<br />

Where do the ICA Principles stand on the<br />

environment?<br />



The co-<strong>op</strong>s struggling to make their<br />

<strong>op</strong>erations more sustainable<br />


Wholefood pioneer Suma sets out its<br />

sustainability goals in new annual report<br />


The SDGs and co-<strong>op</strong>erative attempts to<br />

halt the progress of the Sahara<br />



New tools to help businesses monitor<br />

their activities and make decisions<br />


5-15 UK news<br />

16-23 Global news<br />

26-27 Letters / Obituaries<br />

48-49 Reviews<br />

50 Events<br />

4 | JUNE <strong>2023</strong>

NEWS<br />


<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> sector takes stock after year of economic turmoil<br />

The annual results from the retail co-<strong>op</strong><br />

sector are in, with chief executives singing<br />

from the same hymn sheet regarding the<br />

economic challenges of 2022 – and the<br />

prospect of more trouble to come.<br />

The aftermath of the pandemic and<br />

disruption from the war in Ukraine faced<br />

retailers with soaring energy and produce<br />

costs, while sh<strong>op</strong>pers had less to spend.<br />

But despite some reduced profits and<br />

<strong>op</strong>erating losses, the retail co-<strong>op</strong> sector<br />

came through largely unscathed – in sharp<br />

contrast to employee-owned John Lewis,<br />

whose £234m loss has left it considering<br />

the sale of a minority stake.<br />

The results from the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group and<br />

Scotmid were reported in last month’s<br />

<strong>News</strong>; Lincolnshire <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> issued its<br />

results last November. The remaining<br />

major results are as follows.<br />

Midcounties<br />

Midcounties <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> announced a sharp<br />

recovery in <strong>op</strong>erating profit for the 53<br />

weeks to 28 January, rising to £7.2m<br />

(2022: £2.4m). Gross sales hit £1.3bn, up<br />

from £908m the previous year, and net<br />

debt continues to fall, to £36.7m (2022:<br />

£40.5m). Total revenue was up 20% on<br />

last year at £802.9m. Gross profit rose 10%<br />

to £214.1m.<br />

In the annual report, CEO Phil<br />

Ponsonby wrote: “Gross sales have<br />

returned to above the £1bn mark for the<br />

first time since the coronavirus pandemic,<br />

coming in at £1.34bn for the year. This is a<br />

48% increase on last year’s £907.6m. The<br />

uplift is mainly due to our Travel business<br />

recovering after the pandemic but was<br />

also supported by growth in our Food and<br />

Childcare businesses.<br />

“Operating profit increased significantly<br />

from £2.4m to £7.2m reflecting an<br />

underlying profitable performance and<br />

additional profits from significant, one-off<br />

items as a result of reduced performance<br />

obligations associated with our former<br />

energy business.”<br />

The society’s net asset position has<br />

improved by £8.6m, he added, largely<br />

reflecting a much improved position on<br />

the pension deficit.<br />

p Central CEO Debbie Robinson<br />

The society spent £4.2m on eight<br />

new food stores and a new childcare<br />

site in Warwick, said Ponsonby, but the<br />

society also decided to step away from<br />

its Healthcare division, which had been<br />

<strong>op</strong>erating at a loss. “The board felt that<br />

the investment and resources required<br />

to grow it to a viable and competitive<br />

scale would be better focused on our core<br />

businesses,” he added.<br />

Member trade now stands at 27.2% of<br />

all transactions compared with 24.6% last<br />

year, and 83% of members who sh<strong>op</strong>ped<br />

with the society used a member offer<br />

saving a combined £1.4m. The society<br />

attracted 86,000 new members, 14,000 of<br />

whom are under 30.<br />

Social initiatives from the co-<strong>op</strong> include<br />

a £20,000 donation to its foodbank<br />

partners at the end of the year to fund their<br />

post-Christmas peak, and work with the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative community to support the<br />

DEC appeals for the earthquakes that hit<br />

Turkey and Syria, the floods in Pakistan,<br />

and the war in Ukraine.<br />

Central <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

Central <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> posted an <strong>op</strong>erating profit<br />

of £19.8m (2022: £23.2m) for the 53 weeks<br />

to 28 January. This contained a number<br />

of one-off items, including restructuring<br />

p Midcounties CEO Phil Ponsonby<br />

provisions and a change in accounting<br />

estimate for funeral plan liabilities.<br />

Performance came in on budget, added the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>, and underlying turnover grew 9.1%<br />

to £953.9m (2022: £874.7m). Underlying<br />

trading profit fell 25.2% to £14.9m (2022:<br />

£19.9m), primarily driven by the removal<br />

of government support for business rates.<br />

Net debt, which rose to £19.6m (2022:<br />

£2.9m) “as a result of planned increases in<br />

capital investment”, remains well within<br />

the society’s £40m debt facility, the report<br />

adds, while the society’s net assets hold<br />

steady at £272.1m (2022: £275.4m).<br />

CEO Debbie Robinson said Central<br />

would be emphasising “co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

points of difference” in its strategy,<br />

delivering value to members.<br />

“We have a clear plan and exciting<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunities to grow our sales, increase<br />

membership, improve our efficiency and<br />

mitigate increasing costs,” she added.<br />

“Our focus has been on driving down our<br />

costs to provide better service and offer<br />

value to our members and customers,<br />

improve the terms and conditions for<br />

all our colleagues and mitigate the<br />

continuing fiscal headwinds.”<br />

But there were some “difficult decisions,<br />

with changes to our central support<br />

structure; 33% of colleagues affected were<br />

redeployed into alternative roles”.<br />

JUNE <strong>2023</strong> | 5

Investments saw the society add nine<br />

stores and three cafés, and carry out 25<br />

store refurbishments and one relocation<br />

– helping Food turnover rise to £691.3m<br />

(2022: £667.3m).<br />

In the funeral division, underlying<br />

turnover excluding VAT and exceptionals<br />

was £60.6m (2022: £43.9m).<br />

The society continued its <strong>Co</strong>mmunity<br />

Divided Fund, which shared out £180,719<br />

between 162 charities and good causes.<br />

Southern <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

Southern reported an <strong>op</strong>erating loss of<br />

£1.3m for the 52 weeks to 29 January,<br />

down from a £4.3m profit the previous<br />

year. But CEO Mark Smith said there were<br />

reasons for <strong>op</strong>timism, with turnover rising<br />

to £515.4m from £494m the previous year.<br />

“I’m pleased to report that total income<br />

for Southern <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> exceeded £500m in<br />

one year for the first time ever in 2022,”<br />

he said. “This reflected growth across our<br />

trading businesses with like-for-like food<br />

sales +1% compared to last year.”<br />

Smith pointed to total sales of £39.9m<br />

in Southern’s Starbucks franchises, and<br />

increased client engagements in its End<br />

of Life <strong>op</strong>erations to reach a total of 9,373.<br />

Alongside cost pressures, he said “a<br />

number of ad hoc or one-off costs” also hit<br />

results. But the co-<strong>op</strong> took extra measures<br />

to support colleagues “through additional<br />

one-off cash payments and payments in<br />

kind to help with the cost of living … in<br />

addition to the annual increase in hourly<br />

pay and salaries”.<br />

Smith said the “small <strong>op</strong>erating loss<br />

of £1.3m” reflects “the rapid increase in<br />

energy costs, along with the cost-of-living<br />

support payments to colleagues”. He<br />

also pointed to the unwinding of <strong>Co</strong>vid<br />

business reliefs and the one-off revaluation<br />

of funeral plan liabilities following the<br />

attainment of FCA-authorised status.<br />

Southern <strong>op</strong>ened one new store during<br />

the year, a going concern with fuel based<br />

in Guildford, and closed four stores in<br />

Bromley, Bristol, Freshwater and Ealing. It<br />

relocated Post Office services in Denmead<br />

and Binfield, merging them into its stores.<br />

Its <strong>op</strong>ened 13 new Welcome franchise<br />

with its partners and closed one. At the<br />

end of the year, the Welcome estate had<br />

grown to 69 stores.<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong> continued to grow its Local<br />

Flavours range, bringing 10 new local<br />

suppliers on-board throughout the year<br />

and adding sales of £140,000.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity projects included a crime<br />

prevention partnership with the local<br />

police, council and other stakeholders to<br />

work with prolific offenders, with £35,000<br />

funding from the co-<strong>op</strong> over two years.<br />

And it continued its work with wildlife<br />

trusts in its region to improve local<br />

habitat, green spaces and biodiversity.<br />

Heart of England <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

Heart of England’s <strong>op</strong>erating profit was<br />

£3.7m for the 53 weeks to 28 January,<br />

down from £5.8m the previous year.<br />

Turnover was 91.8m, up from £90.9m<br />

the previous year, and the society’s net<br />

worth increased by 0.3% to £53m.<br />

CEO Ali Kurji says various factors<br />

outside the society’s control combined<br />

to reduce its bottom line, including<br />

exceptional expenses totalling £542,886<br />

and a write-down of investment pr<strong>op</strong>erty<br />

values to the tune of £88,576.<br />

The society continues to review policy<br />

to ensure it remains robust, he added.<br />

“For example, while we have continued<br />

to <strong>op</strong>erate without any borrowing, we<br />

are now in negotiations with our bank<br />

to secure business loans. This will help<br />

us to proceed with several projects we<br />

have committed to which will grow our<br />

business in the coming years.”<br />

The society’s report warns that – in<br />

common with most final salary schemes –<br />

its pension liability has sharply increased,<br />

with the deficit growing from £2.9m to<br />

£4.8m. The scheme was closed in 2012 to<br />

p East of England CEO Doug Field<br />

new employees who are now given the<br />

<strong>op</strong>tion of a defined contribution scheme.<br />

While the food division recorded a<br />

1.14% increase in sales, margins came<br />

under “tremendous pressure” due to<br />

fierce competition and were down on the<br />

year before. There were also significant<br />

supply chain issues arising from a lack<br />

of availability of both local and imported<br />

products.<br />

But two new purpose-built stores were<br />

launched in Lower Heathcote, Warwick<br />

and Cross Keys, Bedworth, which are both<br />

performing above their budgeted targets.<br />

The society, which has 172,000<br />

members, also carried out a major<br />

refurbishment and extension of its<br />

Hillmorton store in Rugby.<br />

Another highlight was the <strong>op</strong>ening<br />

of a new Bewiched in-store coffee sh<strong>op</strong><br />

at the society’s Balsall <strong>Co</strong>mmon food<br />

outlet in <strong>Co</strong>ventry. Two further Bewiched<br />

franchises – at Shires Retail Park in Royal<br />

Leamington Spa and a drive-through in<br />

Wellingborough – will follow this year.<br />

Heart of England’s funeral division<br />

reported a 2.55% decrease in sales, in<br />

line with expectations. Nearly £1m was<br />

invested in purchasing eight eco-friendly,<br />

hybrid ceremonial vehicles.<br />

In 2022, the society introduced a costof-living<br />

action plan for sh<strong>op</strong>pers and<br />

colleagues. The package of measures<br />

included increasing the discount on the<br />

members reward scheme from two to three<br />

per cent. Discounts on food sh<strong>op</strong>ping were<br />

doubled for staff who were also offered<br />

free breakfasts and sanitary products.<br />

More than 225 donations were made<br />

to local charities and community groups<br />

totalling £40,200. Separately, <strong>Co</strong>ventry<br />

and Warwickshire Mind received £15,000<br />

which was raised by staff and sh<strong>op</strong>pers<br />

across 37 food stores. The society made an<br />

additional contribution to t<strong>op</strong> up the sum<br />

collected.<br />

Surplus food from the co-<strong>op</strong> was<br />

passed to FareShare during the year<br />

for distribution to struggling families –<br />

providing more than 140,000 free meals<br />

over a 12-month period.<br />

East of England <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

East of England announced an underlying<br />

trading loss of £5.5m for the 53 weeks to<br />

28 January, but says it also became the<br />

fastest-growing co-<strong>op</strong> in the latter half of<br />

6 | JUNE <strong>2023</strong>

Results in brief<br />

CO-OP GROUP – year to 31 Dec<br />

Revenue: £11.5bn (2021: 11.2bn)<br />

Operating profit: £100m (2021: £100m)<br />

Net debt: £1.65m (2021: £2.4m)<br />

Emissions: 8% reduction in Sc<strong>op</strong>e 3<br />

emissions since 2016, with new report<br />

due this year<br />

p Heart of England CEO Ali Kurji at the launch of the society’s £2.2m Bedworth store<br />

2022, with the biggest volume turnaround.<br />

In its report, the society adds that after a<br />

challenging year, it is “remaining positive<br />

about the future and embarking on an<br />

ambitious plan” to grow the business.<br />

CEO Doug Field said: “These are<br />

challenging times for us, but our family of<br />

businesses remain fundamentally sound.<br />

We’re the fastest growing co-<strong>op</strong>, with sales<br />

that have grown by 8.3% more than last<br />

year to £377.5m, even when accounting for<br />

it being a 53-week trading year.<br />

“Our trading losses are driven by<br />

factors affecting businesses nationally<br />

and globally. Our energy costs increased<br />

by over 70% when compared to last year,<br />

which reduced our profits by close to £4m.<br />

Other notable cost pressures were the<br />

6.6% rise in the National Living Wage in<br />

April 2022 and the cost of delivering goods<br />

to store. In the face of these challenges,<br />

we’re embarking on an ambitious and<br />

exciting plan to grow our business ...<br />

with a number of new Food stores in new<br />

locations in the pipeline.”<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong> handed out more than<br />

£200,000 to a diverse range of local<br />

groups, focusing on everything from<br />

community action and food justice to<br />

mental health and wellbeing.<br />

In December, it donated an additional<br />

£100,000, diverted from its Christmas<br />

marketing budget, to food and heat<br />

poverty initiatives; in addition to this,<br />

customers donated nearly £15,000 instore<br />

over the winter months.<br />

To help with the cost-of-living crisis, all<br />

colleagues were given £50 in vouchers to<br />

spend in Food stores, and the colleague<br />

discount rose from 20% to 25% – in<br />

addition to new, long-term benefits such<br />

as partial salary advances to help with<br />

unexpected bills and expenditure.<br />

Looking ahead to the rest of <strong>2023</strong>, Field<br />

said: “One of my key tasks this year is to<br />

deliver on the huge potential our co-<strong>op</strong> has<br />

as we face yet another challenging year,<br />

with increasing costs, especially when it<br />

comes to energy, being a key factor.<br />

“We need to be doing the best we can,<br />

where we are, with what we’ve got. To<br />

get us back into profit and address the<br />

challenges we face we’re going to focus<br />

on growing and evolving our business<br />

to make it even stronger for the future:<br />

<strong>op</strong>ening new Food stores and investing in<br />

our Funeral business. In addition to this,<br />

we’ll be building on the success we saw<br />

in the latter half of 2022 and continuing to<br />

grow our sales.<br />

“We also need to simplify what we<br />

do and <strong>op</strong>erate for less to address the<br />

continual rise in costs.”<br />

Chelmsford Star<br />

Chelmsford Star’s results for the 52 weeks<br />

to 28 January brought a 6.7% increase<br />

in gross takings. Trading surplus was<br />

£64,882, down from £492,675 the previous<br />

year, while turnover rose from £80m to<br />

£82m; but the figures also show a retained<br />

deficit before tax of £382,193, down from a<br />

£269,856 surplus the year before.<br />

CEO Barry Wood warned that the<br />

society’s energy costs have risen 70% year<br />

on year, despite a 3% cut in consumption.<br />

Distribution costs rose by £161,000,<br />

despite a 7.9% dr<strong>op</strong> in food volume.<br />

“The society has done a sterling job to<br />

mitigate the escalating costs as much as<br />

possible,” he added. Operating costs as a<br />

whole rose 6.2%, leaving the society with<br />

a trading profit of £65,000.<br />

LINCOLNSHIRE – year to 3 Sept<br />

Turnover: 365m (2021: £325m)<br />

Operating profit: £18.4m (2021: £17.5m)<br />

Net assets: £310.5m (2021: £269m)<br />

Emissions: Total emissions 2,481<br />

tonnes CO2 (2021: 2,464 tonnes)<br />

SCOTMID – year to 28 Jan<br />

Turnover: £406.5m (2021: £403m)<br />

Operating profit: £3m (2021: £7.4m))<br />

Net assets: £122.5m (2021: £112.7m)<br />

Emissions: 8,144 tonnes CO2 (2021:<br />

9,264))<br />

MIDCOUNTIES – year to 28 Jan<br />

Revenue: £8m (2021: 6.7m)<br />

Operating profit: £7.2m (2022: £2.4m)<br />

Net assets: £120m (2021: £111.4m)<br />

Emissions: 10% decrease in<br />

<strong>op</strong>erational emissions to 11,931 tonnes<br />

in 2022<br />

CENTRAL – year to 28 Jan<br />

Turnover: £953.9m (2022: £874.7m)<br />

Operating profit: £19.8m (2021:<br />

£23.2m)<br />

Net debt: £19.6m (2022: £2.9m)<br />

Emissions: 24.91 tonnes C02 per £1m<br />

turnover (2022: 29.12)<br />

For a more full look at<br />

environmental reporting in the<br />

sector results, click on our online<br />

story at bit.ly/43tMBEI<br />

<strong>Co</strong>ntinued on page 9<br />

JUNE <strong>2023</strong> | 7

Despite the difficult conditions,<br />

Chelmsford Star distributed around<br />

£30,000 to local charities, to the DEC’s<br />

appeal to assist Ukraine and in support<br />

of Essex-based community groups. It<br />

had also introduced new benefits for its<br />

members, with total savings for them so<br />

far this year exceeding £30,000.<br />

Looking at the gross takings of each of<br />

the society’s businesses, core ranges at<br />

food stores fell by 1% against a volume<br />

decline of 7.9%. However, the Quadrant<br />

department stores reported an increase of<br />

37% despite footfall still being 39% lower<br />

than pre-pandemic levels.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Travel branches increased by<br />

280% as the travel industry continues to<br />

rebound following the pandemic. <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

Funeral Directors increased by 6% ‘year<br />

on year’, helped in part by a new branch<br />

in Basildon.<br />

Wood said that while there may be some<br />

difficult decisions being made in the year<br />

ahead to protect the society longer term,<br />

Chelmsford Star <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> will continue<br />

support of its members and communities.<br />

Electricity consumption fell by 3%<br />

compared to last year but net CO2<br />

emissions increased by 8.8% as a result<br />

of an increased usage of refrigerant gases.<br />

The society added 2,191 members,<br />

bringing the tally to 93,601, of whom 24%<br />

are considered active.<br />

Channel Islands <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

Channel Islands <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> posted trading<br />

profits of £5.8m for the 52 weeks to 8<br />

January, slightly down from £6m the year<br />

before. Turnover rose to £192.4m (previous<br />

year: £181.6m) and pre-tax profit was<br />

£1.3m (previous year: £6m loss). For the<br />

balance sheet, total equity is £164.1m<br />

(previous year: £177.6m).<br />

CEO Mark <strong>Co</strong>x said last year’s emphasis<br />

for the society was resilience. “Much<br />

of our focus has been on managing the<br />

challenges presented to us by external<br />

factors, including inflation, the costof-living<br />

crisis, and the ongoing war<br />

in Ukraine,” he wrote. “These factors<br />

coupled with local pressures of recruiting<br />

and retaining colleagues are creating very<br />

challenging trading conditions.”<br />

But the co-<strong>op</strong> is innovating as it rebuilds<br />

from the pandemic, he added. “We strive<br />

to provide our members and customers<br />

increased choice, and to continue to offer<br />

p Radstock CEO Don Morris<br />

convenience by expanding our retail<br />

estate through <strong>op</strong>ening new stores like our<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> Five Oaks.”<br />

The Five Oaks store, and an expansion to<br />

the range of products offered to islanders,<br />

through ranges such as Carrefour,<br />

contributed to increased turnover from<br />

the food business, which represents 82%<br />

of the society’s total, by 1.1% to £157.9m,<br />

although inflation was also a factor.<br />

The society’s seven pharmacies<br />

performed strongly with sales of £11.9m,<br />

while the funeral businesses, De Gruchy’s<br />

Funeral Care in Jersey and Argent Funeral<br />

Care in Guernsey, performed well,<br />

providing 447 services with a turnover of<br />

£2.1m compared to £1.8m in 2022.<br />

Rental income from the pr<strong>op</strong>erty<br />

portfolio – which includes the Premier<br />

Inn at Charing Cross and Dunelm sites in<br />

Jersey – was £2.4m, an increase of 14%.<br />

Membership stands at 128,269, slightly<br />

down from 129,249 the previous year.<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong> remains true to its mission “to<br />

make a real difference to the communities<br />

we serve,” said <strong>Co</strong>x, highlighting the<br />

£165,742 given to 240 local charities and<br />

causes across the islands.<br />

Meanwhile, 72 charities were allowed<br />

to fundraise across our stores and the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> provided a discount of £143,447 to<br />

the elderly community via the Sir David<br />

Kirsch voucher scheme.<br />

Radstock <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

Radstock posted an <strong>op</strong>erating profit of<br />

£273k for year to 25 February, down from<br />

£370k the previous year. Gross sales rose<br />

slightly to £43.8m (previous year £43.5m)<br />

and retail turnover rose to £39.3m (£39m).<br />

In the Somerset-based co-<strong>op</strong>’s annual<br />

report, CEO Don Morris highlighted the<br />

economic pressures facing the retail<br />

sector, which saw the co-<strong>op</strong> make a<br />

trading loss of £422k, down from a £158k<br />

profit the previous year. This was offset<br />

by a £680k surplus from the co-<strong>op</strong>’s<br />

farm business and a £14k profit from its<br />

pr<strong>op</strong>erty portfolio.<br />

“The investment in the farm proves to<br />

be a wise decision and bodes well for the<br />

future,” he added.<br />

Morris warned it will difficult to generate<br />

increased sales in <strong>2023</strong> as consumers<br />

continue to face squeezed household<br />

budgets, but said rising labour costs have<br />

been budgeted for and the society will be<br />

using new tech to make savings through<br />

increased <strong>op</strong>erational efficiencies.<br />

Meanwhile, progress is being made on<br />

the society’s former Radco site, which<br />

was demolished last year to make room<br />

for a new town centre devel<strong>op</strong>ment, and<br />

is working to expand its retail estate, with<br />

investments including self-scan and shelfedge<br />

tech.<br />

Membership of the co-<strong>op</strong> rose by 1,190<br />

and now stands at 21,306 pe<strong>op</strong>le, and a<br />

dividend of £68,823, redeemable at point<br />

of sale, was returned to members during<br />

the year.<br />

The society distributed £25k from the<br />

carrier bag levy to local causes and raised<br />

another £7,500 for causes including<br />

earthquake relief through fundraising<br />

activities. Another £3,926 was donated by<br />

stores to local fundraising events and the<br />

society gave £1,100 each to Secret World<br />

Wildlife Rescue and Swan Transport.<br />

Tamworth <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

Tamworth says its financial results for the<br />

53 weeks to 28 January ‘have exceeded<br />

expectations’ despite a 16% dr<strong>op</strong> in pretax<br />

profit to £1,058,000.<br />

The results show a total turnover of<br />

£29,063,000 across 53 trading weeks<br />

for the society, which <strong>op</strong>erates 12 food<br />

stores, eight funeral service locations<br />

and four post offices across Staffordshire,<br />

Derbyshire, North Warwickshire and<br />

the West Midlands. The previous year’s<br />

figures only covered 52 trading weeks, but<br />

food sales are up by 2.8% when compared<br />

on a like-by-like basis.<br />

8 | JUNE <strong>2023</strong>

HEART OF ENGLAND – year to 28 Jan<br />

Turnover: £ 91.8m (2021: £90.9m)<br />

Operating profit: £3.7m (2021: £5.8m )<br />

Net assets: £53m (2021: £52.8m)<br />

Emissions: 1,674 tonnes of CO2<br />

(2022:1,707 tonnes)<br />

EAST OF ENGLAND – year to 28 Jan<br />

p Channel Islands <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>’s new store at Five Oaks<br />

The funeral service carried out fewer<br />

funerals than in previous years, but its<br />

performance was also ahead of internally<br />

set targets, says the society.<br />

Before distributions, such as dividends,<br />

grants and taxation, Tamworth’s<br />

£1,058,000 profit was down on the<br />

previous year’s figure of £1,260,000. But<br />

the retained surplus for the year was<br />

£773,000, 8% down on the previous year.<br />

“The overall situation is positive and<br />

better than anticipated,” said CEO Julian<br />

<strong>Co</strong>les. “In the previous financial year,<br />

we received government grants, a lease<br />

termination payment, as well as other<br />

items, and that led to other <strong>op</strong>erating<br />

income totalling £159,000.<br />

“This time around that type of income<br />

was considerably lower at £32,000.<br />

“In addition, our pr<strong>op</strong>erty investments<br />

reduced at the annual valuation process<br />

by £69,000, whereas in the previous year<br />

a gain of £100,000 was recorded.<br />

“There are other aspects which also need<br />

to be factored in, such as the significantly<br />

higher electricity and staffing costs our<br />

food division faced. All things considered<br />

this is a pleasing set of results.”<br />

The acquisition of a sh<strong>op</strong>ping precinct<br />

in Fontenaye Road, Tamworth, helped to<br />

boost the society’s pr<strong>op</strong>erty income from<br />

£512,000 to £565,000. The total valuation<br />

of the society’s pr<strong>op</strong>erty investment<br />

portfolio now stands at £7,640,000.<br />

The report also reveals that Tamworth<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>’s net assets are valued at £19.2m –<br />

£3m up on the year before.<br />

“The increase is primarily down to our<br />

pension liability reducing from £5.9m to<br />

£2.7m,” said <strong>Co</strong>les. “That is good news<br />

and is mainly due to significant uplifts in<br />

the financial markets.”<br />

During the year the society carried<br />

out a major improvement programme at<br />

its Church Street supermarket. An ecofriendly,<br />

state-of-the-art refrigeration and<br />

air conditioning system was installed,<br />

with the customer service kiosk being<br />

relocated alongside the existing post<br />

office counter.<br />

The loss-making performance of the<br />

post office would need to be regularly<br />

reviewed, warned <strong>Co</strong>les.<br />

A highlight of the year was the groundbreaking<br />

£35,000 ‘70 for 70’ donation,<br />

which saw 70 local worthwhile causes<br />

gifted £500 each to commemorate the late<br />

Queen’s 70-year reign.<br />

The handout was the largest single<br />

amount ever distributed by Tamworth <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>.<br />

The money was raised from the sale of<br />

carrier bags at its Church Street store and<br />

chain of convenience stores.<br />

The society also gave Tamworth<br />

Samaritans £8,000 during the year from<br />

its <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Dividend Fund.<br />

“We’re proud of the level of support we<br />

have given to numerous organisations<br />

which carry out fantastic work on our<br />

doorstep,” said <strong>Co</strong>les. “They have needed<br />

financial help more than ever because of<br />

the most challenging economic climate in<br />

decades.<br />

“Despite the difficult trading conditions,<br />

supporting worthwhile causes in our<br />

trading area remains a t<strong>op</strong> priority.”<br />

Looking ahead, <strong>Co</strong>les said the society<br />

is preparing for some considerable<br />

additional expenses during the current<br />

financial year.<br />

However, he added: “With our strong<br />

balance sheet and excellent branch<br />

<strong>op</strong>erating standards I believe we are very<br />

well placed to meet these challenges.”<br />

Turnover: £377.5m (2021: £348.5m)<br />

Trading loss: £5.5m (2021: £1.5m<br />

profit)<br />

Net assets: £232m (2021: £235m)<br />

Emissions: 9,759.59 tonnes of CO2e, a<br />

12.2% decrease on 2021<br />

SOUTHERN – year to 29 Jan<br />

Turnover:£515.4m (2021: £494m)<br />

Operating loss: £1.3m (2021: £4.3m profit)<br />

Net assets: (2021: )<br />

Climate reporting: 10% decrease in<br />

<strong>op</strong>erational emissions to 11,931 tonnes<br />

RADSTOCK – year to 25 Feb<br />

Gross takings: £53m (2021: £51.3m)<br />

Operating profit: £273k (2021: £370k)<br />

Net assets: £21.3m (2021: £21.2m)<br />

Emissions: 848 tonnes of CO2<br />

TAMWORTH – year to 28 Jan<br />

Turnover: £29m (2021: £27.8m)<br />

Trading surplus: £1.2m (2021: £1.3m)<br />

Net assets: £19.1m (2021: £16.3m)<br />

CHANNEL ISLANDS – year to 8 Jan<br />

Turnover: £192.4m (2021: £181.6m)<br />

Trading profit: £5.8m (2021: £6m)<br />

Net assets: £164.1m (2021: £177.6m)<br />

CHELMSFORD STAR – year to 28 Jan<br />

Turnover: £82m (2021: £80m)<br />

Trading profit: £64,882 (2021:<br />

£492,675)<br />

Net assets: £15.2m (2021: £15.6m)<br />

Emissions: 2.163 tons CO2 (2021: 1,987)<br />

MONTH <strong>2023</strong> | 9

RETAIL<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group <strong>op</strong>ens latest round of its Local <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Fund<br />

Applications have now <strong>op</strong>ened for<br />

community groups and charities seeking<br />

funding and support from the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

Group’s Local <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Fund.<br />

Organisations eligible for support<br />

include not-for-profit co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

societies; community benefit societies;<br />

community interest companies; credit<br />

unions; social enterprises; and Woodcraft<br />

Folk groups.<br />

The fund has supported over 30,000<br />

local community projects across the UK<br />

since its launch in 2016, and charities and<br />

organisations, who play a vital role in the<br />

wellbeing of communities, have until 11<br />

<strong>June</strong> to apply for the next round.<br />

The Group says its support comes at “a<br />

much-needed time”, with insight from<br />

community causes across the UK showing<br />

that 84% of local groups have seen a jump<br />

in demand for their services through the<br />

cost-of-living crisis.<br />

The fund is looking to support projects<br />

that have an impact and make a difference<br />

locally, with a focus on:<br />

p The Group’s Rebecca Birkbeck<br />

• Bringing pe<strong>op</strong>le together to access food:<br />

Such as community fridges, allotments,<br />

and cookery classes<br />

• Helping to improve pe<strong>op</strong>le’s mental<br />

wellbeing: Including sporting activities<br />

and, clubs and societies that promote<br />

mental well-being and build social<br />

connections<br />

• Creation of <strong>op</strong>portunities for young<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le to be heard and make a<br />

difference: For example, youth<br />

groups and forums that work to build<br />

confidence, employability and life skills<br />

• Enabling communities to save and<br />

restore nature or tackle climate change,<br />

with examples including community<br />

gardens, tree planting, energy schemes,<br />

re-wilding, and sustainable transport.<br />

Rebecca Birkbeck, director of community<br />

and member participation, said: “Our<br />

Local <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Fund is more relevant<br />

than ever as the cost-of-living crisis is<br />

making it incredibly challenging for many<br />

local organisations.<br />

“We know that our members want to<br />

support the communities they live in, and<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> membership is a powerful way for<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le to do this, simply by sh<strong>op</strong>ping at<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> – with our funding support enabling<br />

local organisations to provide valuable<br />

services and support to pe<strong>op</strong>le at a time<br />

when communities need it most.”<br />

To apply to the Local <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Fund,<br />

visit causes.co<strong>op</strong>.co.uk<br />

Group grows its partnership with Just Eat to cover nearly 1,000 stores<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group says its partnership with<br />

Just Eat was set to reach almost 1,000<br />

stores by the end May.<br />

This follows a successful trial with Just<br />

Eat, which is part of the Group’s ambitions<br />

to bag a third of the UK online quick<br />

convenience market, delivering from store<br />

to door in minutes.<br />

The Group estimates that more than<br />

80% of the UK p<strong>op</strong>ulation will have access<br />

to <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> groceries online by the end of<br />

this year, through its online sh<strong>op</strong> and with<br />

partners.<br />

Last year, the retailer grew its online<br />

revenues by 24%, and over the last<br />

six months, it has expanded its use of<br />

autonomous grocery deliveries, with<br />

self-driving robots <strong>op</strong>erating in parts<br />

of Bedford, Cambridge, Milton Keynes,<br />

Northampton, Leeds and, most recently,<br />

Greater Manchester.<br />

E-commerce director Chris <strong>Co</strong>nway<br />

said: “<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> is combining its physical<br />

and digital routes to market stores to<br />

further expand and grow its online reach.<br />

With our stores located in the heart of<br />

local communities, closer to where our<br />

members and customers live and work –<br />

we continually look to create increased<br />

flexible <strong>op</strong>tions online.<br />

“Our partnership with Just Eat continues<br />

to go from strength to strength, enabling<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> to deliver further online choice with<br />

increased ease, speed and convenience,<br />

whenever and wherever our members and<br />

customers choose to sh<strong>op</strong> with us.”<br />

Amy Heather, strategic accounts<br />

director at Just Eat UK, said: “Our<br />

partnership offers convenience grocery<br />

delivery from store to door across the<br />

UK – bringing access to a wide range<br />

of fantastic <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> products which are<br />

delivered to our customers homes within<br />

minutes. This partnership is another<br />

example of Just Eat’s commitment to<br />

grocery in the UK and <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> is proving<br />

to be a p<strong>op</strong>ular addition for our<br />

customers.”<br />

The Group says its online focus is<br />

around “on-demand, quick convenience,<br />

with orders picked fresh in local stores<br />

which act as micro-distribution hubs in<br />

the community – ensuring its bricks and<br />

mortar high street estate benefits from<br />

online activity”.<br />

Alongside its online sh<strong>op</strong> and Just<br />

Eat, the Group has partnerships with<br />

Deliveroo, Uber Eats, Amazon Prime and<br />

Starship Technologies.<br />

10 | JUNE <strong>2023</strong>


Speakers announced for UK <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>Co</strong>ngress in <strong>June</strong><br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK has unveiled the list<br />

of speakers for <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>Co</strong>ngress, which<br />

will be held at the Mercure Manchester<br />

Piccadilly Hotel on 16-17 <strong>June</strong>.<br />

The event, sponsored by the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Bank<br />

for the third consecutive year, is “about<br />

bringing together those working to build<br />

a fairer economy to learn, share ideas and<br />

take action”.<br />

Speakers include:<br />

• Andrew Griffith MP, economic<br />

secretary to the treasury and City<br />

minister<br />

• Lisa Nandy MP, shadow secretary<br />

of state for levelling up, housing and<br />

communities<br />

• Cherylee Houston, actor and disability<br />

campaigner<br />

• Shirine Khoury-Haq, CEO of the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

Group<br />

• Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater<br />

Manchester<br />

• Lord Victor Adebowale, chair of the<br />

NHS <strong>Co</strong>nfederation<br />

• Debbie Robinson, CEO, Central <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

• Sarah Merrick, CEO of Ripple Energy<br />

• Catherine Douglas, chief pe<strong>op</strong>le and<br />

sustainability officer, the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Bank<br />

• Rob Harrison, director, Ethical <strong>Co</strong>nsumer<br />

• Sara Vicari, aroundtheworld.co<strong>op</strong><br />

• Dan Sodergren, Great Marketing Works<br />

• Emma Back, Equal Care <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

• Cheryl Barrott, <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Guild of<br />

Social and <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Workers<br />

• Blase Lambert, <strong>Co</strong>nfederation of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Housing<br />

Discussion will include climate, the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative identity, principle 6 (co<strong>op</strong>eration<br />

among co-<strong>op</strong>s), finance, social<br />

care, community ownership, and tech.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>ngress will also present an offer from<br />

the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Bank, which gives all its staff two<br />

paid volunteering days per year to make<br />

a difference i n t heir c ommunity. F rom i ts<br />

exhibition stand, the Bank will give co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

the chance to match-make its colleague<br />

volunteers with their own needs – ranging<br />

from board expertise to offering to a spruceup<br />

of community space.<br />

Visit: uk.co<strong>op</strong>/events-and-training/<br />

congress for more details and booking.<br />

RETAIL<br />

‘Use us or lose us’,<br />

wholefood co-<strong>op</strong><br />

warns its customers<br />

Daily Bread, an independent wholefoods<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative which has been <strong>op</strong>erating in<br />

King’s Hedges, Cambridge, for 30 years,<br />

has warned it may be forced to cease<br />

trading as the economic crisis continues<br />

to hit trade.<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong> – not to be confused with<br />

the similarly named Northampton worker<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> – was formed with a mission to sell<br />

“ethically sourced products including<br />

a wide variety of local, organic, glutenfree,<br />

and vegan <strong>op</strong>tions, all at a fair price,<br />

avoiding the exploitation of others and<br />

our natural world”.<br />

But in a post on its website, it warned<br />

that it is facing “unavoidable economic<br />

difficulties”. The news follows the loss of<br />

several independent food co-<strong>op</strong>s to the<br />

cost-of-living crisis, with others warning<br />

of tough times and uncertainty.<br />

“This is the announcement we didn’t<br />

want to have to make, but sadly, we have<br />

no <strong>op</strong>tion,” it said. “We are regrettably<br />

facing closure … unless there is a radical<br />

turnaround in customer sh<strong>op</strong>ping habits.”<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong> added: “We are asking our<br />

customers and community to please use us<br />

or lose us, and show support by sh<strong>op</strong>ping<br />

with us now and in coming months. Every<br />

single purchase counts. We h<strong>op</strong>e that<br />

together we can keep our co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

community healthy and thriving.”<br />

Its financial situation means no new<br />

staff have been hired to replace those that<br />

have left, leaving the co-<strong>op</strong> “<strong>op</strong>erating at a<br />

reduced scale”, it said.<br />

“You may see the effects of this with,<br />

for example, more pre-packed products<br />

replacing those we pack, fewer staff<br />

around the sh<strong>op</strong>, and slightly longer<br />

response times with communications,”<br />

the message added. “Please be patient<br />

with us as we try our best.<br />

“Various economic crises have affected<br />

everyone financially, and we understand<br />

that pe<strong>op</strong>le are having to adapt their<br />

sh<strong>op</strong>ping choices.<br />

“We would really appreciate it if you<br />

spread the word about us by telling<br />

friends and family, posting reviews, and<br />

sharing on social media.”<br />

More info at dailybreadcambridge.org<br />

JUNE <strong>2023</strong> | 11


Cwmpas drafted by Welsh<br />

government to teach<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eration in schools<br />

The Welsh government is working with co<strong>op</strong><br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment agency Cwmpas on a oneyear<br />

pilot project to raise awareness and<br />

understanding of co-<strong>op</strong>s in primary and<br />

secondary schools across Wales.<br />

Announced by Jeremy Miles, minister<br />

for education and Welsh language, the<br />

Robert Owen project is named after the<br />

pioneering, Welsh-born 19th century<br />

reformer who is one of the forefathers of<br />

the modern co-<strong>op</strong> movement.<br />

It will complement existing programmes<br />

which support Careers and Work-Related<br />

Experience (CWRE) as a cross-curricula<br />

element of the Curriculum for Wales.<br />

CWRE is a cross-cutting and integral<br />

element of the curriculum for all learners<br />

aged 3-16, and schools are expected to<br />

enable learners to gain experiences related<br />

to work and careers. The goal is to help<br />

devel<strong>op</strong> their knowledge of the breadth of<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunities available to them throughout<br />

their lives.<br />

This learning will help them make<br />

informed decisions about their career<br />

pathways, says the Welsh government.<br />

This project will be funded by Welsh<br />

Government and will be delivered by<br />

Cwmpas, to engage with schools and<br />

devel<strong>op</strong> learning resources and materials,<br />

which will be available bilingually and<br />

digitally.<br />

The project will be available to all schools<br />

in Wales and will focus on understanding<br />

the role of co-<strong>op</strong>eratives within the<br />

economy.<br />

Additional content will focus on<br />

issues such as social impact, health<br />

and wellbeing, fair work, and a greener<br />

environment.<br />

<strong>News</strong>Social teams up<br />

with Preston <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Education Centre to offer<br />

sociocracy training<br />

Preston <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Education Centre<br />

(PCEC) and <strong>News</strong>Social <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Society<br />

are working together to provide training<br />

and consulting services on sociocracy.<br />

A theory of governance used by several<br />

UK co-<strong>op</strong>s, particularly worker co-<strong>op</strong>s,<br />

sociocracy draws on the use of consent,<br />

rather than majority voting, in discussion<br />

and decision-making by pe<strong>op</strong>le who have a<br />

shared goal or work process.<br />

PCEC and <strong>News</strong>Social say they aim to<br />

offer sociocracy services not only to the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative sector, but also “non-profit<br />

and socially progressive organisations and<br />

networks”.<br />

As part of this partnership, PCEC<br />

will provide formal sociocracy training<br />

and courses customised for individual<br />

organisational needs. The centre will work<br />

with <strong>News</strong>Social to provide consulting<br />

and handholding services to support the<br />

implementation of sociocracy practices.<br />

This will include using the <strong>News</strong>Social<br />

platform which, they say, supports<br />

sociocracy and fosters initiative, innovation<br />

and better flow of information.<br />

Organisations receiving support will<br />

be able to use services as tools during the<br />

training process and as licensed services<br />

post-training.<br />

“Sociocracy is one important tool that<br />

allows organisations and networks to<br />

govern themselves democratically and<br />

more efficiently,” said PCEC founding<br />

director Prof Mick McKeown. “Sociocracy<br />

is about consent-based decision making<br />

and about democratic governance based<br />

on shared power, better information flow,<br />

initiative, and innovation.<br />

“Challenges facing humanity require<br />

reinventing the way organisations and<br />

networks conduct their affairs,” said Prof<br />

Julian Manley from <strong>News</strong>Social, “especially<br />

those supporting a more equitable sharing<br />

economy such as co-<strong>op</strong>eratives, mutuals,<br />

social enterprises, and trade unions. The<br />

object is to support democratic forms of<br />

governance in organisations as well as<br />

making the most of the <strong>op</strong>portunities<br />

brought about by the technological<br />

revolution we are passing through.”<br />

PCEC was founded in 2021 as a unionco-<strong>op</strong><br />

to support the creation of workerowned<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives in Preston. It provides<br />

education and training in co-<strong>op</strong>s and co<strong>op</strong>eration,<br />

with members including tutors,<br />

local councillors, lecturers and trade<br />

unionists.<br />

<strong>News</strong>Social is a multi-stakeholder co<strong>op</strong><br />

aspiring to be the go-to social platform<br />

for co-<strong>op</strong>eratives, change makers and<br />

citizens’ assemblies. It runs an app that<br />

enables users to exchange news, ideas and<br />

<strong>op</strong>inions.<br />

PCEC and <strong>News</strong>Social <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Society are supportive of Preston City<br />

<strong>Co</strong>uncil’s community wealth building<br />

initiative – commonly known as the<br />

Preston model. In 2019 <strong>News</strong>Social signed<br />

a memorandum of understanding with<br />

Preston <strong>Co</strong>uncil and University of Central<br />

Lancashire to support their efforts to design<br />

a co-<strong>op</strong>erative entrepreneurial ecosystem<br />

for Preston.<br />

12 | JUNE <strong>2023</strong>


<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Party celebrates<br />

local election boost<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Party was among the<br />

beneficiaries of the recent UK local<br />

elections, which saw its sister organisation<br />

Labour become the biggest party in local<br />

government as voters turned away from the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nservatives.<br />

Once the final results were in, the <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong><br />

Party had added 680 councillors to its<br />

ranks, bringing the national total to nearly<br />

1,600. This is part of a wider picture which<br />

saw the number of Tory councillors fall by<br />

957 (with 2,296 elected on polling day),<br />

with Labour gaining 643 (2,675 elected), the<br />

Lib Dems gaining 425 (1,628 elected) and<br />

the Greens gaining 200 (481 elected). The<br />

number of councillors from other parties<br />

fell by 385, with 1,001 seats won on the day.<br />

Joe Fortune, general secretary of the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Party, said: “The <strong>2023</strong> local election<br />

results represent another great step forward<br />

for the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Party. We had a record<br />

number of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Party candidates<br />

selected and elected. The Party now has<br />

nearly 1,600 councillors spread right across<br />

the UK and we are now focused on working<br />

with them and our movement on delivering<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative change in our communities.”<br />

The Party, which stood more than 1,100<br />

candidates for the elections, now boasts<br />

large groups of councillors in places<br />

like Medway, Swindon, York and Derby,<br />

added Fortune.<br />

The non-partisan <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative <strong>Co</strong>uncils’<br />

Innovation Network, a group of authorities<br />

working to implement co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

solutions, also had a good polling day, with<br />

member groups taking control of three<br />

councils. A special interest group of the<br />

Local Government Association, it is <strong>op</strong>en to<br />

all UK councils.<br />

Chair Louise Gittins – leader of Cheshire<br />

West & Chester <strong>Co</strong>uncil – said: “I am<br />

thrilled with the local election results.<br />

“Our associate membership scheme is<br />

<strong>op</strong>en to <strong>op</strong>position groups who agree to<br />

seek to become full members if they take<br />

control of their local authority.<br />

“These group leaders benefit from<br />

working alongside leaders and co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

leads in other councils, sharing<br />

ideas and model motions in preparation for<br />

winning the council. We saw the Labour &<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative groups at Medway, Plymouth<br />

and Stoke take control of their respective<br />

<strong>Co</strong>uncils on 4 May. Plymouth City <strong>Co</strong>uncil<br />

was a founding member of the network,<br />

and we’re delighted to welcome them back<br />

as full members.”<br />

This brings the number of full councils in<br />

CCIN to 40 and the total membership across<br />

full, associate and affiliate membership to<br />

106 members and 21 supporters.<br />

But the election also saw CCIN<br />

member Torbay change hands, with its<br />

Lib Dem members losing control to the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nservatives. “We are still to hear whether<br />

they wish to remain a member,” said<br />

Gittins. “If they do, they will be our first<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nservative council.”<br />

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JUNE <strong>2023</strong> | 13


UK government <strong>op</strong>ens third round of <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Ownership Fund<br />

The government has <strong>op</strong>ened the<br />

third round of its £150m <strong>Co</strong>mmunity<br />

Ownership Fund, designed to help<br />

communities rescue and take control of<br />

local assets, such as sports clubs, music<br />

venues and historic buildings.<br />

The Department for Levelling Up,<br />

Housing and <strong>Co</strong>mmunities says the<br />

fund has been changed to give more<br />

help to community groups. The amount<br />

of funding all projects can bid for will<br />

be increasing from £250,000 to £1m,<br />

meaning that groups can bid for more<br />

funding to help save bigger projects.<br />

The requirement for match-funding<br />

is also being reduced to as low as 10%,<br />

making it easier for communities to<br />

acquire assets without raising additional<br />

private funding. For the first time, parish<br />

councils can also apply to the fund,<br />

which has previously only been available<br />

to charities and community groups.<br />

The Fund is already supporting almost<br />

100 projects across the UK.<br />

Levelling Up minister Dehenna Davison<br />

said: “From far-flung pubs to prized<br />

community centres, the <strong>Co</strong>mmunity<br />

Ownership Fund is putting vital assets<br />

back into the hands of communities, to<br />

be enjoyed for generations to come.<br />

“We want even more communities to<br />

benefit from the fund and that’s why we<br />

are making these changes so community<br />

groups can apply for even more money to<br />

save much loved local assets.<br />

“We will continue to grow this fund<br />

to empower local pe<strong>op</strong>le, restoring their<br />

pride in the places where they live and<br />

levelling up communities across the<br />

United Kingdom.”<br />

Northern Ireland minister Steve Baker<br />

said: “The <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Ownership Fund<br />

is already supporting seven great projects<br />

across Northern Ireland with £1.5m in<br />

funding, making a real difference to<br />

local communities. It’s wonderful to<br />

see the launch of round three, which<br />

will save more local community assets<br />

by supporting pr<strong>op</strong>osals that enable<br />

communities here to thrive, boosting<br />

levelling up across Northern Ireland.”<br />

The fund is already helping<br />

communities across the country seize<br />

ownership of prized local assets that are<br />

at risk, including:<br />

p The Old Forge – Scotland’s most remote pub, now a community benefit society – is among<br />

previous beneficiaries of the fund<br />

• Britain’s most remote pub, the Old<br />

Forge Pub, on the Knoydart Peninsula<br />

in Scotland. £200,000 investment from<br />

the <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Ownership Fund has<br />

helped the pe<strong>op</strong>le of Inverie take full<br />

ownership<br />

• In Gateshead, a local community group,<br />

Fighting All Cancers Together, will<br />

renovate their local community centre<br />

with a £300,000 investment, creating<br />

a sustainable space to continue their<br />

invaluable work of supporting pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

diagnosed with cancer<br />

• Leigh Spinners Mill, the largest building<br />

in Leigh, in Greater Manchester, which<br />

has been vacant for many years.<br />

£250,000 of funding is transforming the<br />

space into a hot spot that offers support<br />

to community groups and creating more<br />

employment <strong>op</strong>portunities<br />

• Ballymacash Sports Academy in<br />

Northern Ireland which has received<br />

£300,000 for creating state-of-the-art<br />

sports facilities and improving the club<br />

with a brand new 3G sports pitch – a<br />

specialised pitch for football comprised<br />

of three different turfs<br />

• The Queen’s Ballroom in Tredegar,<br />

Wales, has been saved thanks to £90,000<br />

in funding. The historic building was<br />

originally one of Wales’ first purpose<br />

built electric cinemas. Today it houses<br />

a fully funded programme which<br />

provides young pe<strong>op</strong>le, aged 7-18, with<br />

the <strong>op</strong>portunity to learn fundamental<br />

skills for working in film<br />

• A community in rural Suffolk<br />

successfully bought their local pub,<br />

The Racehorse Inn, through a £96,000<br />

grant from the <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Ownership<br />

Fund in March 2022. The pub will<br />

h<strong>op</strong>efully be transformed into a local<br />

hub with a post office and sh<strong>op</strong> to<br />

serve the residents of Westhall and the<br />

surrounding area.<br />

The Old Forge <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Benefit Society<br />

said: “We are grateful to the <strong>Co</strong>mmunity<br />

Ownership Fund whose support helped<br />

The Old Forge <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Benefit Society<br />

to achieve its goal of a community-owned<br />

pub on the Knoydart Peninsula.”<br />

Tony Armstrong, CEO of Locality, who<br />

leads the devel<strong>op</strong>ment support programme<br />

for the fund, said: “We are delighted by<br />

the changes announced in the round 3<br />

prospectus of the <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Ownership<br />

Fund meaning that more local pe<strong>op</strong>le will<br />

have control over the buildings and spaces<br />

that have significance to them and ensure<br />

that these spaces are used in ways that<br />

meet the priorities and needs of the local<br />

community.<br />

“As the lead for the devel<strong>op</strong>ment support<br />

programme, we are pleased to be bringing<br />

together the knowledge and skills of 10<br />

leading community support organisations,<br />

to help groups with the application process,<br />

through the advice and support service.”<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK is also a delivery partner<br />

on the scheme. For details of its support<br />

with applications, visit bit.ly/3BSIqX4<br />

14 | JUNE <strong>2023</strong>


Riverford Organic turns<br />

fully employee-owned<br />

as founder sells stake<br />

Guy Singh-Watson, founder of organic<br />

veg box company Riverford Organic, is<br />

selling his remaining stake in the business,<br />

leaving it 100% owned by its 900 staff.<br />

Singh-Watson, who sold 74% of the<br />

firm to his workers in 2018, has accepted<br />

£9.8m for the remaining stake, to be paid<br />

over five years. The business will now be<br />

fully controlled by a trust on behalf of its<br />

workers, who will receive an annual profit<br />

share and help run the business.<br />

The deal brings the total paid to Singh-<br />

Watson for the firm to £14m since 2018.<br />

He says he will continue to be involved<br />

as a trustee, non-executive director and<br />

spokesperson.<br />

The business, based near Totnes, Devon,<br />

was launched in 1987, with Singh-Watson<br />

delivering organic vegetables to friends;<br />

it is now forecasting sales of about £98m<br />

this year.<br />

Writing for Wicked Leeks website, Singh-<br />

Watson said he sold the business for a<br />

quarter of its value to avoid burdening it<br />

with debt, and to recognise the contribution<br />

of his workers in helping to build it.<br />

“On a good day,” he added, “I am still<br />

a useful – if occasionally cantankerous –<br />

part of the Riverford team, and plan to<br />

continue in this way for the foreseeable<br />

future: growing veg for your boxes, writing<br />

this newsletter, and using my experience to<br />

keep us moving in the right direction. But<br />

the business now rightfully belongs to all<br />

of its nearly 1,000 co-owners, so it’s time to<br />

sell my remaining shares.”<br />

Singh-Watson has said that he will pay<br />

full tax on the sale, and will use some of the<br />

sum raised to install more solar power and<br />

agroforestry on his own farms in Devon and<br />

France, and to support the Ripple Effect<br />

charity, which helps farmers overseas, and<br />

community projects in Devon.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group unveils new suppliers for Apiary accelerator<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group has chosen the second<br />

group of small suppliers for its business<br />

accelerator, Apiary. The eight firms<br />

– which will h<strong>op</strong>efully be stocked in<br />

selected stores by the end of the year –<br />

are Blue Turaco coffee, Local vegan beer,<br />

Oatsu porridge, tea brand Humanitea,<br />

baker House of Cinn, Revibed soft drinks,<br />

bakery Black Milk Desserts and condiment<br />

maker Wilderbee Hot Honey.<br />

New Central <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> store is first to come with solar panels<br />

Central <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> has launched its first new<br />

store of the year in Streethay, Staffs– its<br />

first new store with solar panels already<br />

fitted. The store is close to the society’s<br />

Support Centre in Lichfield, offering the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>’s Food to Go, products supporting<br />

Our Malawi Partnership, Fairtrade goods,<br />

a bakery, and <strong>Co</strong>ok frozen ranges.<br />

South Caernarfon Creameries wins t<strong>op</strong> food award<br />

Farmer-owned South Caernarfon<br />

Creameries (SCC) has won the Food and<br />

Drink Producer of the Year category at<br />

the <strong>2023</strong> Wales Food and Drink Awards.<br />

The 60-year-old co-<strong>op</strong> has seen sales soar<br />

since launching a website for its flagship<br />

brand, Dragon cheese.<br />

Solar co-<strong>op</strong> <strong>op</strong>ens latest round of community funding<br />

Edinburgh <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Solar <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

(ECSC) has <strong>op</strong>ened the latest round of its<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity Benefit Scheme. Applications<br />

are <strong>op</strong>en until 31 July for communityfocused<br />

organisations in Edinburgh which<br />

would like to buy equipment, provide<br />

additional activities, provide education<br />

on reducing carbon or install renewable<br />

energy at their premises.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity pub secures extra finance from CCF<br />

A community pub on the Essex/Sussex<br />

border has secured extra support from <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong><br />

and <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Finance (CCF). Lamarsh<br />

Lion <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Pub, near <strong>Co</strong>lchester, has<br />

been owned by locals since 2017. Treasurer<br />

Ruth Allison said: “The challenges of<br />

running a community business in the<br />

current economic environment are complex<br />

and persistent. Having supportive lender is<br />

much needed and appreciated.”<br />

JUNE <strong>2023</strong> | 15


USA<br />


elects its board<br />

US co-<strong>op</strong> apex NCBA CLUSA shared<br />

the results of its board elections at its<br />

annual membership meeting. Michelle<br />

Schry, nominations committee chair<br />

and director of retail support at National<br />

<strong>Co</strong>+<strong>op</strong> Grocers, said: “We were really<br />

lucky to have a robust and talented slate<br />

of candidates this year, and we deeply<br />

appreciate everyone who chose to step<br />

forward and run for the board.”<br />

Five co-<strong>op</strong> leaders were re-elected:<br />

<strong>Co</strong>rnelius Blanding<br />

<strong>Co</strong>rnelius Blanding has a wealth of<br />

experience including rural, international<br />

and co-<strong>op</strong>erative economic devel<strong>op</strong>ment.<br />

He is the executive director of the<br />

Federation of Southern <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives,<br />

a position he has held since 2015. His<br />

background involves business and<br />

project devel<strong>op</strong>ment, management<br />

and marketing, with over 25 years of<br />

experience serving Black farmers,<br />

landowners and limited-resource co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

as well as rural communities in the South<br />

of the US and around the world.<br />

Juan Fernandez<br />

Juan Fernandez is the president and CEO<br />

of the Credit Union Association of New<br />

Mexico, where he uses his platform to<br />

help credit unions to engage with and<br />

empower Latino communities. Having<br />

worked in credit unions and co-<strong>op</strong>s for<br />

20 years, Fernandez has worked across<br />

community devel<strong>op</strong>ment, membership<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment, leadership, government<br />

affairs and financial wellness. He has<br />

also helped draft, advocate for and pass<br />

legislation to improve the wellbeing of<br />

New Mexicans, such as the passage of a<br />

small dollar loan rate cap in New Mexico<br />

in 2022, which limited predatory lending<br />

in the state.<br />

Esteban Kelly<br />

Esteban Kelly is executive director of the<br />

U.S. Federation of Worker <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

(USFWC), and has worked across issues<br />

of multi-racial solidarity and collective<br />

ownership, political education, systemic<br />

thinking and abolitionism. He co-founded<br />

AORTA (Anti-Oppression Resource &<br />

Training Alliance) worker co-<strong>op</strong>, multistakeholder<br />

freelancer co-<strong>op</strong> Guilded, and<br />

Philadelphia Area <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Alliance<br />

(PACA) Kelly was inducted into the North<br />

American Students of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eration Hall of<br />

Fame in 2011 for his contributions to the<br />

movement.<br />

Emma Mc<strong>Co</strong>rmick<br />

Emma Mc<strong>Co</strong>rmick is the senior director of<br />

engagement at the National Farmers Union<br />

(NFU), an organisation that advocates<br />

for family farmers and ranchers, and<br />

their communities through education,<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eration and legislation. With a<br />

background in education, Mc<strong>Co</strong>rmick<br />

uses her skills to produce educational<br />

programmes to help NFU members better<br />

understand farm business management<br />

and the co-<strong>op</strong>erative business model.<br />

Karen Zimbelman<br />

Karen Zimbelman has worked in the co<strong>op</strong><br />

sector for over 30 years, including<br />

as a consultant on co-<strong>op</strong> devel<strong>op</strong>ment,<br />

governance, education programs and<br />

employee benefits, as well as founding<br />

two regional co-<strong>op</strong> grocers’ associations.<br />

In May 1994, she received the <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Service Award for dedicated leadership<br />

and service to co-<strong>op</strong>s at the <strong>Co</strong>nsumer<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Management Association,<br />

and in April 1999 was recognised<br />

for outstanding contribution to co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

education by the Association of<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Educators.<br />

You can read the full bios of each<br />

board member at bit.ly/44L9rJs<br />

National <strong>Co</strong>+<strong>op</strong> Grocers<br />

sets out social and<br />

environmental impact<br />

National <strong>Co</strong>+<strong>op</strong> Grocers (NCG) has set out<br />

a list of environmental and social benefits<br />

from US co-<strong>op</strong> grocers.<br />

The 2022 Food <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Impact Report<br />

says 100% of NCG co-<strong>op</strong>s have up-todate<br />

sustainability tracking software and<br />

support, enabling them to set and work<br />

towards goals around carbon emissions.<br />

Organic products made up 38% of its<br />

members’ total sales, down 2% from last<br />

year, while US$160,000 was invested in<br />

advocating for strong organic standards.<br />

When it comes to supporting a more<br />

inclusive economy, NCG found that B <strong>Co</strong>rp<br />

products made up 8% of NCG food co<strong>op</strong>s’<br />

total sales in 2022. Fairtrade-certified<br />

products made up 5% of total sales. Both<br />

figures outperform other natural grocery<br />

competitors and conventional grocers.<br />

Investments in racial justice in the food<br />

system saw NCG raise $131,000 last year<br />

for Black-led food co-<strong>op</strong>s.<br />

For impact on local food systems, the<br />

average NCG member was found to buy<br />

from 281 local farms and producers and<br />

sell $5.6m of local products in a year.<br />

On employment, around half of NCG<br />

food co-<strong>op</strong>s report that they pay all staff<br />

local liveable wages. NCG co-<strong>op</strong>s exceeded<br />

national figures on benefits, with 58% of<br />

NCG employees eligible for healthcare<br />

benefits – 14% higher than the national<br />

coverage rate for service employees. 64%<br />

of co-<strong>op</strong>s contribute to staff retirement<br />

plans, 24% higher than nationally.<br />

The number of NCG co-<strong>op</strong>s increased<br />

from 148 last year to 159 this year,<br />

representing a combined total of over 1.3<br />

million individual members.<br />

16 | JUNE <strong>2023</strong>

AFRICA<br />

Study finds<br />

unconventional forms<br />

of resilience in farm<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s’ <strong>Co</strong>vid response<br />

A study of the resilience of sub-Saharan<br />

African co-<strong>op</strong>s during the pandemic has<br />

revealed an unexpected relationship<br />

between co-<strong>op</strong> service provision and<br />

business viability.<br />

Of the 30 co-<strong>op</strong>s studied, those<br />

who experienced declines in business<br />

performance were those which offered<br />

the most services, and also saw higher<br />

increases in membership.<br />

The study, conducted by the<br />

International <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Research Group<br />

(ICRG), sampled 30 co-<strong>op</strong>s from Uganda,<br />

Malawi, Madagascar, Kenya and Rwanda,<br />

mainly from the agricultural sector, as<br />

well as two Kenyan housing co-<strong>op</strong>s.<br />

These co-<strong>op</strong>s were categorised as either<br />

‘business resilient’ or ‘non-business<br />

resilient’, based on annual income divided<br />

by membership, or ‘business membership<br />

ratio’ over a 12-month period.<br />

The major challenges posed by <strong>Co</strong>vid-19<br />

reported by respondents were restricted<br />

mobility, financial hardship and reduced<br />

<strong>op</strong>erations.<br />

Restricted mobility was the most<br />

commonly cited challenge, mentioned by<br />

18 out of 30 co-<strong>op</strong>s, but was an even higher<br />

concern among non-business resilient co<strong>op</strong>s,<br />

who were generally situated further<br />

from the nearest city to their business<br />

resilient counterparts.<br />

Financial hardship and reduced<br />

<strong>op</strong>erations were reported as challenges<br />

by 13 and 12 co-<strong>op</strong>s respectively, but<br />

by a greater pr<strong>op</strong>ortion of business<br />

resilient co-<strong>op</strong>s than of non-resilient co<strong>op</strong>s,<br />

suggesting the two categories may<br />

have different perceptions of the most<br />

significant challenges.<br />

In response to these challenges, a<br />

number of strengths and strategies were<br />

employed by the co-<strong>op</strong>s surveyed. T<strong>op</strong> of<br />

the list was co-<strong>op</strong>s’ ability to innovate,<br />

mentioned by 14 of the 30 co-<strong>op</strong>s, followed<br />

by commitment and trust of members,<br />

mentioned by eight respondents, then<br />

diversification and sustained <strong>op</strong>erations,<br />

both mentioned by four co-<strong>op</strong>s.<br />

Membership was highlighted as a<br />

particular strength of the co-<strong>op</strong> model<br />

in general, with co-<strong>op</strong>s increasing<br />

their membership overall during the<br />

pandemic.<br />

Non-business resilient co-<strong>op</strong>s had a<br />

higher number of members, on average,<br />

than business resilient co-<strong>op</strong>eratives, both<br />

before and after the pandemic. They also<br />

experienced greater membership growth,<br />

of nearly 60% from pre-<strong>Co</strong>vid-19 to 2021,<br />

whereas business resilient co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

grew by 41%, on average.<br />

One leader of a co-<strong>op</strong> from the nonresilient<br />

group said: “The major strength<br />

we’ve had is co-<strong>op</strong>eration among<br />

members… Though there are many<br />

challenges they all came together and<br />

packed their produce in one place. And<br />

even when they were faced with high<br />

prices from the up-takers, the degree of<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eration was high. Members came<br />

together and shared how to work together;<br />

because of this we got high volumes.”<br />

Despite decreased business<br />

membership ratios, the non-business<br />

resilient co-<strong>op</strong> were found to not only<br />

continue in providing their usual services<br />

to members, but many also went a step<br />

further, providing <strong>Co</strong>vid-related services<br />

to support their members. This was also<br />

seen in business resilient co-<strong>op</strong>s, but to a<br />

lesser extent.<br />

The report makes a number of<br />

recommendations, and says the complex<br />

picture shows the need for a greater<br />

variety of tools to gauge resilience outside<br />

of business membership ratio and purely<br />

economic measures.<br />

Recommendations include: national<br />

policy recognising co-<strong>op</strong>s as essential<br />

services during emergencies to provide<br />

flexibility; stronger road infrastructure<br />

across rural regions; research and training<br />

initiatives for diversification of products;<br />

improvements to existing technological<br />

infrastructure and literacy; systems for<br />

decision-making and training that do not<br />

require in-person meetings; and decisionmaking<br />

processes that integrate member<br />

wellbeing and business viability.<br />

“While we found that approximately<br />

only half of the sample were business<br />

resilient during <strong>Co</strong>vid-19, the findings<br />

suggest co-<strong>op</strong>eratives exhibited other<br />

forms of resilience yet to be explored and<br />

<strong>op</strong>erationalised in co-<strong>op</strong>erative resilience<br />

research,” concludes the report.<br />

“Business membership ratio and<br />

economic indicators are external measures<br />

of resilience, but for those living on the<br />

ground, carrying out daily <strong>op</strong>erations,<br />

resilience and value may be measured in a<br />

more tangible and internal way.”<br />

You can read the full report at<br />

bit.ly/3VOA8c6<br />

JUNE <strong>2023</strong> | 17

EUROPE<br />

<strong>Co</strong>pa-<strong>Co</strong>geca<br />

welcome Eur<strong>op</strong>ean<br />

Agriculture <strong>Co</strong>mmittee<br />

vote on food security<br />

The Eur<strong>op</strong>ean Parliament’s Agriculture<br />

and Rural Devel<strong>op</strong>ment <strong>Co</strong>mmittee<br />

ad<strong>op</strong>ted a report on food security on 25<br />

April, a move welcomed by <strong>Co</strong>pa-<strong>Co</strong>geca.<br />

The two apexes, which represent<br />

Eur<strong>op</strong>ean farmers and agri co-<strong>op</strong>s, pointed<br />

out that the past few years have been<br />

challenging for the sector, particularly<br />

due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine<br />

and its impact on supply chains.<br />

“In this context Eur<strong>op</strong>ean farmers and<br />

agri-co-<strong>op</strong>eratives have continued to<br />

produce restlessly to feed EU citizens and<br />

responsibly contribute to alleviate global<br />

food insecurity,” they said. “It is partly<br />

also thanks to the common agricultural<br />

policy (CAP) that we have managed to<br />

ensure food security and affordability, in<br />

a context in which farmers needed to have<br />

a predictable source of income together.”<br />

Ad<strong>op</strong>ted with 39 votes in favour, eight<br />

against and no abstentions, the report<br />

calls on the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean <strong>Co</strong>mmission<br />

to “take the necessary measures to<br />

provide farmers with planning security<br />

and guarantees, making it possible to<br />

maintain and, if necessary, increase food<br />

production in the EU”.<br />

It also points out that “the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean<br />

Green Deal could be a milestone in the<br />

EU transition to a greener and more<br />

sustainable economy” but warns that<br />

many of the resulting measures might<br />

have adverse effects, which have not yet<br />

been pr<strong>op</strong>erly assessed, on EU farms<br />

and food security. As such, it calls on the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmission to carry out a comprehensive<br />

assessment of the cumulative impact of<br />

Green Deal legislative pr<strong>op</strong>osals on the EU<br />

farming sector.<br />

It also suggests a range of measures<br />

to help the sector, such as allowing a<br />

temporary derogation, as well as the<br />

use of alternatives to chemical fertilisers<br />

such as RENURE (‘REcovered Nitrogen<br />

from manURE’) and digestate which<br />

increase circularity on farms and granting<br />

financial support to farmers to implement<br />

digital technologies and precision cr<strong>op</strong><br />

management. An EU-specific programme<br />

should also be devised to help boost the<br />

modernisation of irrigation facilities and<br />

the promotion of new water management<br />

infrastructure, adds the report.<br />

In terms of food waste, the report<br />

suggests making investments in<br />

infrastructure for more sustainable<br />

transport and storage facilities of farm<br />

products.<br />

It also calls for devel<strong>op</strong>ing an EU<br />

protein and feed strategy as part of the<br />

food security plan to enable farmers to<br />

become less dependent on imports from<br />

third countries.<br />

“If we face tighter restrictions on<br />

cultivation and higher production<br />

standards due to the EU framework, EU<br />

farmers expect to be treated fairly by<br />

the <strong>Co</strong>mmission’s trade policy,” warned<br />

<strong>Co</strong>pa and <strong>Co</strong>geca. The two apexes<br />

also welcomed the attention given to<br />

innovation in the report.<br />

Marlene Mortler MEP (EPP, Germany),<br />

who wrote the report, said: “The Eur<strong>op</strong>ean<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmission should ensure that our<br />

farmers are able to produce and supply<br />

high-value agricultural commodities.<br />

“The objectives of the Green Deal<br />

must be implemented in such a way<br />

that food security is not compromised<br />

and that sustainability is ensured in<br />

environmental, economic and social<br />

terms. Now it looks as if the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmission has difficulties hearing the<br />

problems of farmers.”<br />

She added: “The war in Ukraine and<br />

rising costs are creating the fear that<br />

supply chains may become ge<strong>op</strong>olitical<br />

tools. At the same time, several law<br />

pr<strong>op</strong>osals by the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean <strong>Co</strong>mmission<br />

are either cutting agricultural production<br />

or diminishing the arable land area.”<br />

“The Parliament pr<strong>op</strong>oses several<br />

measures to strengthen the position of<br />

primary producers in the food chain,<br />

support young and female farmers,<br />

and encourage investments. Instead of<br />

creating new burdens for farmers, the EPP<br />

Group calls on the <strong>Co</strong>mmission to take<br />

steps to protect the future of farmers and<br />

food security.”<br />

The draft resolution will now go through<br />

a plenary vote in Parliament in <strong>June</strong>.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Press Limited<br />

Board Election <strong>2023</strong> –<br />

Call for Nominations<br />

Deadline for receipt of<br />

nominations: 12 Noon<br />

on Friday 23rd <strong>June</strong><br />

See page 25 for full details<br />

18 | JUNE <strong>2023</strong>


<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> Denmark reports DKK 628m loss for 2022, its ‘worst year ever’<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> Denmark has announced its<br />

annual results for the financial year 2022,<br />

reporting a loss of DKK 628m (£74.4m).<br />

The group, the second-biggest<br />

retailer of consumer goods in Denmark,<br />

described 2022 as “the worst year ever”<br />

for itself and its independent consumer<br />

associations.<br />

Its turnover for 2022 was KK 46.9bn<br />

(£5.6bn) excluding VAT, 2% more than<br />

in the previous year. However, large<br />

investments in a new discount chain and<br />

IT platform, coupled with falling customer<br />

confidence and changing sh<strong>op</strong>ping habits<br />

affected the retailer’s performance.<br />

“It is an unsatisfactory result, which<br />

comes after a number of good years,”<br />

said chair Lasse Bolander. “But 2022 was<br />

also the year when we accelerated the<br />

investments in our strategy, Fremtidens<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>, which will transform <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> and<br />

ensure a simple, efficient and winning<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> with fewer but stronger chains.”<br />

The group invested DKK 750m in price,<br />

conversion and roll-out costs for 250 new<br />

365discount stores and the subsequent<br />

closure of Fakta, which reported a loss of<br />

DKK 651m.<br />

Another DKK1 billion was invested in its<br />

new SAP platform, <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> One, which, says<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> Denmark, “will provide significant<br />

gains in the coming years”.<br />

One of the factors that impacted the<br />

retailer’s results is a decrease in consumer<br />

confidence, which <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> Denmark<br />

attributed to high inflation and the war<br />

in Ukraine. These changes impacted<br />

customers’ sh<strong>op</strong>ping habits, who <strong>op</strong>ted for<br />

cheaper and fewer products. The retailer<br />

said it chose not to pass on the costs<br />

resulting from supplier price increases in<br />

full to its customers.<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> Denmark launched a new growth<br />

strategy earlier this year, which will see it<br />

invest DKK4bn over the coming years. The<br />

group expects better results for next year<br />

but warns that low consumer confidence<br />

is here to stay.<br />

“We have had growth in comparable<br />

stores of 18% in 365 in 2022,” said<br />

managing director Kræn Østergård<br />

Nielsen. “far above the discount market as<br />

a whole. With victories and t<strong>op</strong> positions in<br />

a large number of price tests, we can state<br />

that we have gained a much better price<br />

image, which is crucial in discount. So<br />

we have a good starting point for the next<br />

phase, where the goal is to continue the<br />

high growth in our turnover and market<br />

share in discount with our green chain.<br />

“With large investments in the three<br />

chains, with a state-of-the-art IT platform<br />

rolled out for all product areas and<br />

stores, the strongest own brands and an<br />

aggressive focus on responsibility, we will<br />

in the coming years become even more<br />

attractive to customers, and thus once<br />

again grow and win market shares.”<br />

ITALY<br />

Italian retailer<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> Alleanza 3.0<br />

reports €132m loss for<br />

2022<br />

Italian co-<strong>op</strong>erative group <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> Alleanza<br />

3.0 ended 2022 with a loss of €132m<br />

(£115m), its annual report reveals.<br />

The retailer attributed the loss to<br />

investments in expanding its reach and<br />

supporting the purchasing power of<br />

members and customers.<br />

During a press conference Mario<br />

Cifiello, president of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> Alleanza 3.0,<br />

revealed the group is looking to invest<br />

€760m over the next four years to enhance<br />

its commercial offer. He said the plan was<br />

“ambitious and challenging but at the<br />

same time pragmatic and concrete”.<br />

Some of the measures planned for<br />

the next four years include investments<br />

of €130m over five years to support the<br />

purchasing power of shareholders and<br />

customers; investments of over €420m for<br />

the store network restructuring plan and<br />

technological and digital innovation; and<br />

growing the <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> branded product.<br />

Other measures include implementing<br />

a new automation system at the Anzola<br />

dell’Emilia hub (Bologna); continuing the<br />

modernisation of the digital ecosystem<br />

towards a new multi-device APP and<br />

digitisation of the point of sale and<br />

expanding training to support staff<br />

members.<br />

The group has 2.3 million members and<br />

plans to increase sales to members from<br />

an increase in the percentage of sales to<br />

members from 78% presently to 82% in<br />

2027. It also projects sales under the <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong><br />

brand at €6.3bn in 2027 (compared to<br />

€5.6bn in 2022) and an <strong>op</strong>erating income<br />

of of €230m in 2027 compared to €90m in<br />

2022.<br />

Cifiello added that the group was on a<br />

“virtuous recovery path” and its recovery<br />

would enter a new devel<strong>op</strong>ment phase. He<br />

added that the group had chosen to support<br />

the purchasing power of its members<br />

and customers through price control<br />

interventions, absorbing a significant part<br />

of the cost increases causes by inflation.<br />

JUNE <strong>2023</strong> | 19


Belgian government wants citizen participation in offshore wind energy<br />

The Belgian government has announced<br />

the tender criteria for future wind farms in<br />

the Princess Elisabeth Zone, which include<br />

citizen participation, a move welcomed by<br />

renewable energy co-<strong>op</strong>eratives.<br />

Announced by energy minister Tinne<br />

Van der Straeten on 21 April, the tender<br />

conditions will be laid down in a royal<br />

decree.<br />

One stakeholders set to benefit from<br />

this announcement is Seaco<strong>op</strong>, a Belgian<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative social enterprise founded<br />

by 33 renewable energy citizen co<strong>op</strong>eratives,<br />

all of which are members of<br />

RESco<strong>op</strong> Flanders or RESco<strong>op</strong> Wallonia, a<br />

federation of 20 renewable energy co-<strong>op</strong>s.<br />

“This is the first time in Eur<strong>op</strong>e, if<br />

not the world, that a government is<br />

encouraging citizen participation in large<br />

offshore wind farms through renewable<br />

energy communities,” Seaco<strong>op</strong> said in a<br />

statement.<br />

According to Seaco<strong>op</strong>, in 2022<br />

alone more than 100,000 citizens who<br />

were members of renewable energy<br />

communities in Belgium were able to<br />

save hundreds of euros on their annual<br />

electricity bill.<br />

Seaco<strong>op</strong> enables local co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

and their members to co-invest in offshore<br />

wind turbines and gain direct access to<br />

the energy produced there. They plan to<br />

invest €445m in future North Sea wind<br />

farms, take 20% ownership of the wind<br />

farms and supply 20% of the electricity to<br />

citizens.<br />

Seaco<strong>op</strong> is working with co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

electricity suppliers Ec<strong>op</strong>ower and<br />

<strong>Co</strong>citer on the practical arrangements for<br />

acquiring this electricity and supplying it<br />

to the co-<strong>op</strong>eratives. The co-<strong>op</strong> says that<br />

securing supply contracts and managing<br />

such volumes of electricity remains a<br />

challenge, but is committed to meeting it.<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong> plans a national<br />

communication campaign in 2027 to<br />

invite citizens to join one of the 34 local<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s to participate in this initiative.<br />

The Belgian government’s<br />

announcement came ahead of the North<br />

Sea Summit, held on 24 April in Ostend,<br />

Belgium. Nine countries (Belgium,<br />

Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands,<br />

France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Norway<br />

and the UK) along with the president<br />

of the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean <strong>Co</strong>mmission attended<br />

the summit, which concluded with the<br />

ad<strong>op</strong>tion of the Ostend Declaration –<br />

commitment to deliver cross-border<br />

projects and anchor the renewable<br />

offshore industry in Eur<strong>op</strong>e.<br />

As part of this, they set offshore wind<br />

targets of 120 GW by 2030 and 300 GW<br />

by 2050 in the North Seas, from 30 GW<br />

presently.<br />

EUROPE<br />

Sarah de Heusch<br />

appointed director of<br />

Social Economy Eur<strong>op</strong>e<br />

Social Economy Eur<strong>op</strong>e (SEE) has<br />

appointed a new director, Sarah de<br />

Heusch, who joins from freelancers’<br />

platform co-<strong>op</strong> Smart.<br />

De Heusch takes over the role from Victor<br />

Meseguer, who has joined the Spanish<br />

government as special commissioner for<br />

the social economy.<br />

She had worked at Smart, a crosssector<br />

network of 80,000 autonomous<br />

workers and freelancers, since 2008.<br />

Joining as a researcher, she took the role<br />

of international project manager in 2009,<br />

and in 2015 was made public affairs<br />

officer for its general management and<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment unit.<br />

Through these roles she contributed to<br />

the devel<strong>op</strong>ment of Smart’s participatory<br />

working groups presided over its ethical<br />

committee, which she helped to set up.<br />

At Smart, she became involved in<br />

the wider platform co-<strong>op</strong> movement,<br />

chaired the working group on atypical<br />

employment, platform workers and<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s of the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean confederation<br />

of industrial and service co<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

(Cec<strong>op</strong>) and the working group on the<br />

Future of Work of the International<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Entrepreneurship Think Tank<br />

(ICETT).<br />

As a board member of La <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> des<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmuns, she worked to improve<br />

collaboration between co-<strong>op</strong>s, the<br />

commons movement, unions and cities.<br />

Before joining Smart she was assistant<br />

to the secretary general of the University<br />

Network of Capitals of Eur<strong>op</strong>e.<br />

“It is with great enthusiasm that I take<br />

on the role of director of SEE,” she said,<br />

“as I believe the world needs an economy<br />

that puts pe<strong>op</strong>le and the environment<br />

before profit.<br />

The EU, UN and International Labour<br />

Organization have acknowledged<br />

the added value of social economy in<br />

promoting a fairer economy, sustainable<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment and decent work. It is our<br />

role to make sure adapted policies are<br />

put into place for this type of economy to<br />

strive.”<br />

De Heusch says she wants SEE to<br />

maintain pivotal role in implementing the<br />

EU’s new Social Economy Action Plan and<br />

empowering its members to make the best<br />

use of it.<br />

“I look forward to pursuing the work<br />

that the team and members of the<br />

network have led until now, to keep social<br />

economy high on the EU agenda, to grow<br />

the network and make it a key player of<br />

the twin transition,” she added.<br />

20 | JUNE <strong>2023</strong>


Irish agri food<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s told to prepare<br />

for new Brexit import<br />

controls<br />

The Irish <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Organisation<br />

Society (Icos) is advising members to<br />

reactivate their Brexit planning following<br />

a warning from the agriculture minister<br />

Charlie Mc<strong>Co</strong>nalogue.<br />

In 2020, the UK postponed post-Brexit<br />

sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) controls<br />

but is introducing new measures on 31<br />

October as part of its Target Operating<br />

Model.<br />

Irish officials are urging exporters to<br />

get ready for the changes, including a<br />

requirement to pre-notify all exports using<br />

the UK’s food and feed import system<br />

(Ipaffs) – regardless of the risk category<br />

– and an export health certification for<br />

“medium risk” animal and plant products.<br />

“While clarity is still needed, Icos<br />

understands that dairy products, such as<br />

cheese are designated ‘low risk’, meaning<br />

no export health certificates will be<br />

needed and lower border entry checks will<br />

apply,” Icos said in a statement, adding<br />

that dairy products containing raw milk,<br />

infant formula and meat products are<br />

classified as “medium risk” under the new<br />

rules.<br />

From 31 January the UK will also<br />

introduce Border <strong>Co</strong>ntrol Posts (BCP)<br />

checks for high and medium risk foods<br />

from the EU but, according to Icos, these<br />

checks for Irish exports “will not start<br />

until April 2024, at the earliest, due to<br />

preparedness levels at Welsh ports”.<br />

Businesses wishing to get advice on<br />

the issue can contact the Department on<br />

any Brexit-related issues via its dedicated<br />

email address: brexitcall@agriculture.<br />

gov.ie, or by telephone on (01) 607 2830.<br />

FRANCE<br />

Railco<strong>op</strong> suspends freight activities to<br />

focus on devel<strong>op</strong>ing passenger services<br />

Railco<strong>op</strong>’s co-<strong>op</strong>’s board of directors voted<br />

to suspend its freight activities on 19 April<br />

in order to concentrate its resources on the<br />

launch of the Bordeaux-Lyon line.<br />

France’s first rail co-<strong>op</strong>erative, Railco<strong>op</strong><br />

plans to launch a passenger service<br />

between Bordeaux and Lyon in the<br />

summer of 2024.<br />

“Despite the start of a new service<br />

and good devel<strong>op</strong>ment prospects in the<br />

South-West [of France], forecasts do not<br />

currently allow us to envisage reaching<br />

the economic profitability of the freight<br />

activity in <strong>2023</strong>. We are reorganising<br />

our activities to focus exclusively on<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ing the travellers business. The<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment of a local rail freight service<br />

remains a major ambition for Railco<strong>op</strong>.<br />

This devel<strong>op</strong>ment represents an essential<br />

link to support the ecological transition<br />

in the territories,” the co-<strong>op</strong> said in a<br />

statement.<br />

It added that members would be asked<br />

to provide feedback on the freight services<br />

provided by the co-<strong>op</strong> in order to assess<br />

their experience and “lay the foundations<br />

for the resumption of this medium-term<br />

activity.”<br />

Set up in 2019, Railco<strong>op</strong> is a co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

society of collective interest (SCIC) with<br />

over 14,000 member owners. The co-<strong>op</strong><br />

had envisioned running its first passenger<br />

service in 2022 but witnessed delays due<br />

to <strong>Co</strong>vid-19.<br />

In March the co-<strong>op</strong>’s members ad<strong>op</strong>ted<br />

a resolution to start a restricted passenger<br />

service from 2024 with a majority of<br />

86.39%. With funding from banks and<br />

institutional investors pending, the co-<strong>op</strong><br />

chose to finance this investment with its<br />

own funds from members.<br />

Railco<strong>op</strong> plans to offer a two-day return<br />

trip between Bordeaux and Lyon and it<br />

will be renovating trains in <strong>2023</strong>.<br />

To achieve this first objective, the co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

will need to raise €4.1m in <strong>2023</strong> in<br />

order to cover the necessary investments,<br />

particularly the purchase of an additional<br />

X72500 three-coach trainset.<br />

To meet this need the co-<strong>op</strong> is has<br />

launched two fundraisers, a share offer<br />

via its site, and an equity securities offer<br />

via the Lita.co platform.<br />

JUNE <strong>2023</strong> | 21


BCCM holds<br />

Eur<strong>op</strong>ean launch for<br />

tool to measure value<br />

of co-<strong>op</strong> businesses<br />

Australia’s Business <strong>Co</strong>uncil of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

and Mutuals (BCCM) has<br />

formally launched its framework to<br />

measure the value of co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

businesses.<br />

Mutual Value Measurement© (MVM),<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ed by the BCCM in conjunction<br />

with Melbourne’s Monash University<br />

Business School and Warwick University<br />

Business School, was launched overnight<br />

at an event at London’s The Shard.<br />

“Valuing the positive impact of co<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

and mutuals on their members,<br />

their customers, their communities, and<br />

wider society, is well overdue,” said BCCM<br />

CEO Melina Morrison.<br />

“In fact, one of the greatest challenges<br />

for co-<strong>op</strong>s and mutuals is to be able to<br />

quantify and communicate the value they<br />

create, in ways that are understood by their<br />

stakeholders. We know there is a huge<br />

gap between the scale of the co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

movement and the visibility and awareness<br />

of the business model. Nowhere is this<br />

more evident than in Australia where eight<br />

out of ten pe<strong>op</strong>le are members of at least<br />

one co-<strong>op</strong>erative or mutual and only three<br />

out of ten are aware of that fact.<br />

p Melinda Morrison speaking at the launch of the MVM Framework (Image: bccmau/Flickr)<br />

“Mutual Value Measurement is a<br />

framework that makes sure none of the<br />

value co-<strong>op</strong>s create is hidden, overlooked,<br />

or ignored.”<br />

She added: “Against a backdr<strong>op</strong> of<br />

recessionary winds, inflation and a cost<br />

of living crisis that is seeing increasing<br />

numbers falling into poverty, with ge<strong>op</strong>olitical<br />

tensions ratcheting and the<br />

climate crisis sharpening to the predicted<br />

emergency, there’s not a minute to lose.<br />

“Pe<strong>op</strong>le are hungry for business models<br />

that ‘do business’ with purpose. Our<br />

business model is not only fit for the times,<br />

but also vital for the future.”<br />

MVM was devel<strong>op</strong>ed after a two-year<br />

research project led by Monash University<br />

and involving participation by 13 Australian<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative and mutual businesses.<br />

The framework helps co-<strong>op</strong>s and<br />

mutuals to measure their total value<br />

creation using six common criteria. These<br />

are commerciality; shaping markets;<br />

member relationships; community<br />

relationships; ecosystem and reciprocity;<br />

and lastly, mutual mindset.<br />

“MVM is customised to our unique<br />

characteristics and does not require<br />

thought reshaping to fit a less aligned<br />

framework,” said Morrison.<br />

“One of its most exciting applications<br />

will be to enhance ESG and sustainability<br />

reporting by co-<strong>op</strong>s and mutuals.”<br />

The BCCM is the national peak body<br />

representing Australia’s $34.4 billion co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

and mutual sector.<br />

USA<br />

Filene Research<br />

Institute invites credit<br />

unions to join its<br />

innovation study<br />

The Filene Research Institute has<br />

launched a call for US credit unions to<br />

take part in its Credit Union Innovation<br />

Success Study.<br />

Now in its second edition, the project was<br />

set up to explore the level of innovation in<br />

the credit union sector, as viewed through<br />

the eyes of members. Around 5,225 credit<br />

union members took part in the first survey<br />

in 2022, which identified <strong>op</strong>portunities to<br />

differentiate the sector from traditional<br />

bank competitors and fintechs.<br />

The findings from 2022 indicate that,<br />

compared to companies across the US<br />

economy, credit unions place slightly<br />

below average on their Innovation Index<br />

scores. According to Filene, credit unions<br />

also scored average on perceptions of<br />

social innovation, but rank higher than<br />

most financial services firms.<br />

Building on these findings, Filene has<br />

introduced additional survey questions,<br />

looking at members’ perceived trust<br />

of their credit union and asking which<br />

unique aspects of innovation they value<br />

most.<br />

All participating credit unions will<br />

receive a personalised, confidential<br />

benchmark report, along with industrywide<br />

data on credit union innovation.<br />

“What makes this effort unique is that<br />

innovativeness is determined by users of<br />

products and services – in this case, credit<br />

union members,” said Lerzan Aksoy,<br />

Fordham University dean and professor<br />

of marketing, who wrote Filene’s year one<br />

study. “It is vital that credit unions listen<br />

to and learn from their members so that<br />

they can provide innovations that really<br />

matter to their members.”<br />

Credit unions have until 31 May to<br />

enrol on the free study, which is run in<br />

partnership with Rockbridge Associates.<br />

Up to 50 credit unions will be enrolled,<br />

with places filled on a first come, first<br />

served basis.<br />

22 | JUNE <strong>2023</strong>

CANADA<br />

Record number of<br />

housing co-<strong>op</strong>s in line for<br />

small green grants<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Housing Federation<br />

(CHF) of Canada is to allocate small grants<br />

to 49 co-<strong>op</strong>s across the country via its<br />

Greener <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Microgrants programme.<br />

Designed to support projects that help<br />

protect the environment, the scheme will<br />

see CHF Canada fund small projects from<br />

CA$1,000 to a limit of $5,000.<br />

The federation will allocate over<br />

$160,000 to help launch sustainability<br />

projects, including community gardens,<br />

energy efficiency initiatives, electric<br />

vehicle charging, rainwater collection,<br />

and cycling infrastructure.<br />

Any housing co-<strong>op</strong> member of CHF<br />

Canada can apply but funds are limited and<br />

will be distributed according to quality of<br />

applications, geographic representation,<br />

size and variety of projects.<br />

Among those already selected is<br />

Carpathia Housing <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>, which will use<br />

the funding to build community gardens.<br />

“These gardens will give us the<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunity to offset the rising cost of<br />

fresh produce and contribute to a healthy,<br />

balanced diet,” said the co-<strong>op</strong>. “We look<br />

forward to a summer of gathering as a<br />

community and growing together, both<br />

literally and figuratively! Thank you CHF<br />

Canada for this fantastic <strong>op</strong>portunity and<br />

we look forward to sharing our completed<br />

project with you.”<br />

Mimico <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> will also receive a<br />

grant through the scheme. It said: “This<br />

grant will support the expansion of the<br />

vegetable garden, empower and educate<br />

residents while building community<br />

health through providing access to fresh<br />

produce that will nourish families. Thank<br />

you CHF Canada!,” said the co-<strong>op</strong>.<br />

The Greener <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Microgrant<br />

programme is supported by the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity Housing Transformation<br />

Centre and various sponsors.<br />

NZ <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Bank t<strong>op</strong>s customer satisfaction survey<br />

REI co-<strong>op</strong> donates US$40m to nonprofits<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Bank of New Zealand<br />

outperformed banks with the largest<br />

market share in a customer satisfaction<br />

survey carried out by <strong>Co</strong>nsumer NZ.<br />

The annual ranking featured 13<br />

institutions, considering factors like value<br />

for money, call centre service and dealing<br />

with complaints. Around 83% of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Bank customers surveyed said<br />

they were very satisfied with the service.<br />

Dubai’s Union <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> signs agreement with WWF<br />

Dubai’s Union <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> has signed a<br />

memorandum of understanding (MoU)<br />

with conservation non-proft Emirates<br />

Nature-WWF. The co-<strong>op</strong> has set a number<br />

of social responsibility goals to support<br />

projects led by government, private<br />

and social welfare institutions and<br />

community welfare groups.<br />

Nepalese co-<strong>op</strong> apex wins FAO award for SDG work<br />

Nepal Agriculture <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Central<br />

Federation (NACCFL) has won first<br />

place at the new Food and Agriculture<br />

Organization of the United Nations<br />

(FAO) Awards Programme. In their first<br />

edition, the awards acknowledge progress<br />

towards the United Nations Sustainable<br />

Devel<strong>op</strong>ment Goals (SDGs).<br />

Outdoors retail co-<strong>op</strong> REI is investing<br />

US$4m in 40 nonprofit organisations<br />

working to create a more equitable<br />

outdoors.<br />

The money from the retailer’s<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Action Fund will benefit<br />

22 existing REI partners and 18 new<br />

organisations that have joined the Fund’s<br />

growing national network.<br />

St Lucia’s co-<strong>op</strong> ministry launches mascot competition<br />

The Department of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives of<br />

Saint Lucia has launched a School<br />

Mascot Design Challenge to promote<br />

the co-<strong>op</strong>erative business model. The<br />

competition, for schoolchildren aged<br />

10-13, is designed to “instil a renewed<br />

and heightened appreciation for the co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

business model, its origins and<br />

continued philos<strong>op</strong>hical focus on ‘pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

helping pe<strong>op</strong>le’”.<br />

JUNE <strong>2023</strong> | 23

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<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Press Limited<br />

Board Election <strong>2023</strong> – Call for Nominations<br />

Deadline for receipt of nominations: 12 Noon on Friday 23rd <strong>June</strong><br />

(a) Positions to filled by election in <strong>2023</strong><br />

Nominations are invited for the following positions to serve on the Board of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Press Ltd. from the close of the <strong>2023</strong><br />

AGM until the close of the 2026 AGM:<br />

• Three Directors nominated by and from organisations that are members of the Society and are registered in the United<br />

Kingdom, excluding the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Group Ltd and <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK Ltd.<br />

• One Director nominated by organisations that are members of the Society and are registered outside the United<br />

Kingdom.<br />

• Two Directors nominated by and from individual members of the Society.<br />

(b)<br />

Form of nomination<br />

For nominees of organisations in membership of the Society<br />

(c)<br />

The Secretary of the nominating organisation should send details of their candidate including their full name by email<br />

to secretary@thenews.co<strong>op</strong> together with a candidate statement of up to 250 words and a recent head and shoulders<br />

photograph.<br />

Nominations from individual members<br />

Individual members of the society who wish to put themselves forward for election can self-nominate by sending a<br />

candidate statement of up to 250 words and a recent head and shoulders photograph by email to<br />

secretary@thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />

Eligibility to serve as a Director<br />

• Only members who are aged 18 years or more on the closing date for nominations may serve on the Board of Directors.<br />

• No Director shall serve for more than nine consecutive years. Retiring Directors who have served the maximum period<br />

must stand down for at least one year before they shall be eligible for further election or appointment.<br />

• In accordance with the <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Principle of education, training and information, Directors must agree to undertake<br />

training during their term of office as deemed appr<strong>op</strong>riate by the Society. This training will include information on the<br />

roles and responsibilities of being a Director of a society which is also a co-<strong>op</strong>erative. Before accepting a position as<br />

Director an individual must agree to undertake such training during their first year of office as deemed appr<strong>op</strong>riate by<br />

the Society. This training will include information on the roles and responsibilities of being a director of a registered<br />

society.<br />

• The Board will prepare, approve and enforce a code of conduct for Directors that sets out expected behaviours and<br />

conduct. The code of conduct for Directors will include commitments to training and ongoing professional devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

where needed, in order that the Board is competent to fulfil its role. All Directors will be required to sign an acceptance<br />

of the code of conduct for Directors on taking office, or as soon as practicable afterwards.<br />

(d)<br />

(e)<br />

Remuneration<br />

The Society pays reasonable out of pocket expenses to Directors and any such fee as is agreed by the members at an<br />

Annual General Meeting. The fee is currently £500 per year.<br />

Time <strong>Co</strong>mmitment<br />

The Board currently meets six times each year including, in alternate years, a two-day strategy review with overnight<br />

accommodation. Board meetings are a mixture of online and hybrid in format and are typically two hours long.<br />

Meetings that are wholly online take place on a mid-week evening at a mutually convenient time to accommodate the<br />

availability of staff and Directors. Hybrid meetings take place at Holyoake House in Manchester on a Friday, usually<br />

ahead of a <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Group National Members’ <strong>Co</strong>uncil weekend. The biennial strategy review starts on a Friday<br />

afternoon and continues all day on a Saturday.<br />

There are sub-committees to consider matters such as a Staffing, Investments and Environmental Policy. These meet as<br />

required online on a weekday during office hours for up to an hour. <strong>Co</strong>mmittees usually meet two or three times during<br />

the year and most directors serve on one or two committees according to their skills and availability.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Press Ltd, Holyoake House, Hanover Street, Manchester, M60 0AS


<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eration: More than an idea<br />

Your detailed report of the <strong>2023</strong> Retail<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nference had Shirine Khoury-Haq,<br />

Group CEO, worrying about how we<br />

respond to current challenges and a 6%<br />

market share. But she answered her own<br />

question: “We have something that none<br />

of the others have. We have the idea of co<strong>op</strong>eration”.<br />

I was pleased she repeated this<br />

sentiment at the Group’s AGM and am<br />

impressed with her newly discovered<br />

zeal for co-<strong>op</strong>eration (although I was not<br />

Have your say<br />

Add your comments to our stories<br />

online at thenews.co<strong>op</strong>, get in<br />

touch via social media, or send us<br />

a letter. If sending a letter, please<br />

include your address and contact<br />

number. Letters may be edited and<br />

no longer than 350 words.<br />

impressed with AGM attendance: just 125<br />

in the hall at voting time).<br />

In recent times, co-<strong>op</strong>eration among<br />

the different retail societies hasn’t been<br />

led t<strong>op</strong>-down. A simple example: recently<br />

I visited Bridgwater, a moderate-sized<br />

town with three co-<strong>op</strong> sh<strong>op</strong>s, each run by<br />

a different society (Group, Southern and<br />

Radstock). I chose the Southern store,<br />

but didn’t show my Group card as I knew<br />

they had withdrawn from the mutual<br />

acceptance of cards. It was good to hear<br />

that societies are beginning to talk to each<br />

other about this issue, but where has “the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative <strong>News</strong>, Holyoake<br />

House, Hanover Street,<br />

Manchester M60 0AS<br />

letters@thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />

@co<strong>op</strong>news<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative <strong>News</strong><br />

idea of co-<strong>op</strong>eration” been?<br />

The Group’s recently reported increase<br />

in members is to be applauded, but the<br />

majority of sh<strong>op</strong>pers are not members,<br />

suggesting limited loyalty. And ask the<br />

general public why they don’t sh<strong>op</strong> with<br />

us, and the price issue invariably arises.<br />

So how could the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> with its dismal<br />

6% market share raise its game and lower<br />

prices? As Khoury-Haq said at the AGM,<br />

by becoming part of something bigger.<br />

A glimpse of this future may have been<br />

previewed in your article debating the new<br />

as yet to be chosen Group chair. Group<br />

secretary Kendal-Ward said: “We are part<br />

of a wider co-<strong>op</strong> movement stretching<br />

across industries and nations and need to<br />

play our part in driving co-<strong>op</strong>eration”.<br />

H<strong>op</strong>efully between this and Khoury-<br />

Haq’s sentiments, the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> is turning<br />

a corner for the better. However, until<br />

something positive happens and true co<strong>op</strong>eration<br />

among co-<strong>op</strong>eratives begins to<br />

happen it will remain, to quote the CEO,<br />

“the idea of co-<strong>op</strong>eration”.<br />

Leslie Freitag / via email<br />

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26 | JUNE <strong>2023</strong>


Trevor James, housing co-<strong>op</strong> pioneer<br />

The Dutch housing co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

movement is mourning the loss of Trevor<br />

James, who passed away unexpectedly on<br />

29 April at the age of 74 following a cardiac<br />

arrest while on a nature walk in the UK.<br />

A consistent ambassador for consumers<br />

in the housing market, James was born on<br />

5 April 1949 in Boscombe, Bournemouth.<br />

He pursued a degree in Architecture at<br />

Portsmouth School of Architecture. He<br />

received his accreditation from the Royal<br />

Institute of British Architects in 1976<br />

following which he registered with the<br />

Architects Registration <strong>Co</strong>uncil of the<br />

United Kingdom.<br />

His involvement in the housing co<strong>op</strong><br />

movement began in the 1970s when<br />

he worked for five years as an architect<br />

and process supervisor at a service<br />

organisation for housing co-<strong>op</strong>eratives in<br />

London.<br />

After moving to the Netherlands in<br />

1981 he joined the Housing Experiments<br />

Ministerial Steering Group (SEV) where<br />

he supported 23 resident groups in<br />

the Netherlands in researching the<br />

possibilities of and setting up selfmanagement<br />

projects. He continued his<br />

involvement in the establishment and<br />

supervision of several self-management<br />

projects throughout the 1980s and 1990s,<br />

particularly through Platform31, the<br />

successor of SEV. He served as an expert<br />

of Platform31’s Klushuur Program and<br />

partner on its Housing <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

Program. He contributed and authored<br />

several publications for Platform31.<br />

In 1985 he established ABAKUS, a<br />

consulting company advising policy<br />

makers and social housing providers<br />

about resident participation and<br />

empowerment.<br />

In 1998 he became a consultant for<br />

Vannimwegen, where he continued to<br />

work until his retirement in 2021.<br />

In 2020 he was involved in setting up<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>link, a secondary co-<strong>op</strong> for housing<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives. As chair of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>link, James<br />

dedicated almost all of his spare time to<br />

the apex pro bono to help support the<br />

current wave of small scale resident<br />

led mutual housing associations in the<br />

Netherlands.<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>link colleagues say he was “an<br />

exceptionally warm-hearted person,<br />

socially engaged and passionate about his<br />

vocation” who “put his heart and soul into<br />

creating better <strong>op</strong>portunities for housing<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives”.<br />

“He taught me and many others<br />

that residents can also be at the helm<br />

themselves, that the biggest pitfall is to<br />

organise ‘for’ and not ‘with’ residents,”<br />

said his former colleague, Erik-Jan<br />

H<strong>op</strong>staken, who described him as<br />

someone who “ensured that everyone was<br />

heard showed warmth for each person<br />

he interacted with compassion, rather<br />

than pity.” He chose to let things happen<br />

and avoided taking the stage if it was not<br />

necessary.<br />

His important contributions to<br />

the growth of the Dutch housing co<strong>op</strong><br />

movement brought him royal<br />

recognition in 2022 when he received<br />

the Knight of the Order of Orange<br />

Nassau for the introduction of “right to<br />

management” within the Dutch housing<br />

sector and his role in the emancipation<br />

of dwellers. He received the accolade<br />

from Utrecht mayor Sharon Dijksma,<br />

who said at the time “The Royal Family<br />

has great appreciation for how Trevor<br />

James has been committed to society for<br />

many years. That is why it has pleased<br />

the King to give Trevor James a royal<br />

decoration.” She added: “The way in<br />

which he influenced the emancipation of<br />

residents throughout his life is unique.<br />

He impressed with his tenacity and<br />

held on where others let go.” The mayor<br />

praised James for being able to bring<br />

together residents and public housing<br />

representatives, acting as a bridge<br />

between the two groups of stakeholders.<br />

“It’s all true: Trevor James was an<br />

exceptional human being. We will<br />

continue his work, live his passion and<br />

realise his dream. Our thoughts are with<br />

his wife Annemiek, his daughters Dora<br />

and Lianne and his family,” <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>link said<br />

in a statement.<br />

Ahead of helping to set up <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>link<br />

Trevor got in touch with the UK’s<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nfederation of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Housing to<br />

exchange experience.<br />

Blase Lambert, CEO of the UK’s<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nfederation of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Housing,<br />

said: “He contacted us because they were<br />

looking to set up <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>link and get the co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

housing sector up and running<br />

in the Netherlands.<br />

“I attended a couple of online meetings<br />

with him and his colleagues and I met<br />

him over in Helsinki at the International<br />

Social Housing Festival where we were<br />

both speaking in different sessions a nd<br />

again in Zurich at the International<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Housing Symposium. We<br />

continued to have contact over the time<br />

and I introduced him to colleagues at<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Housing International with<br />

a view to try to link what the Netherlands<br />

were doing into the sort of broader work<br />

of the international housing co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

movement.<br />

“I was really sad and shocked to<br />

suddenly hear of his passing from one of<br />

his colleagues over there. It is a real loss<br />

to the pe<strong>op</strong>le who knew him, and to the<br />

housing co-<strong>op</strong> sector in the Netherlands,<br />

in which he has been very active.”<br />

James’s family have set up a page<br />

for colleagues and friends wishing<br />

to leave tributes and condolences:<br />

memori.nl/gedenkplaats/trevor-james<br />

JUNE <strong>2023</strong> | 27

High h<strong>op</strong>es, hard choices<br />

at <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group’s AGM<br />

By Anca Voinea<br />

q <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group<br />

National Members’<br />

<strong>Co</strong>uncil president,<br />

Denise Scott-<br />

McDonald,<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group asserted its values and<br />

resilience in the face of a gruelling economic<br />

backdr<strong>op</strong> at its AGM in Manchester. Executives<br />

fielded questions on issues like the sale of its<br />

petrol forecourts and chicken welfare standards,<br />

and announced possible areas of collaboration<br />

across the retail co-<strong>op</strong> sector, such as a common<br />

membership platform.<br />

Welcoming members to the meeting – held<br />

in person and online on 20 May – outgoing<br />

chair Allan Leighton hailed the Group’s balance<br />

sheet – stronger than any of its competitors.<br />

Responding to a member’s question about the<br />

sale of the Group’s petrol forecourt business, he<br />

said this had cut net debt to £300m. “The most<br />

important thing any organisation has to do at<br />

this period of time in this climate is to have a<br />

strong balance sheet,” he added.<br />

The 64% cut in net debt was also welcomed<br />

by CEO Shirine Khoury-Haq, who said the<br />

society was in a stronger position after tackling<br />

challenges such as the extra £100m in costs<br />

from rising energy and wage bills. “We increased<br />

our cash flow,” she added. “We became a cashgenerative<br />

organisation, and one that does not<br />

need to borrow to fund investments. We created<br />

realistic business forecasts ... to justify the<br />

investment, and we delivered on those forecasts<br />

for the first time in years.<br />

“We maintained our underlying profits, we<br />

mitigated significant, externally influenced<br />

<strong>op</strong>erating cost increases by delivering over<br />

£100m of in year cost savings and we are now,<br />

as a result of all of this, a far more resilient, and<br />

financially stronger <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>.”<br />

Stressing the Group’s co-<strong>op</strong> credentials, she<br />

said active membership also grew over the year,<br />

with 45% of new members aged under 35.<br />

Looking to <strong>2023</strong>, Khoury-Haq said the Group<br />

would “stick closely to our financial plan”,<br />

“invest but in a prudent and capital-conscious<br />

way” and try to add a million new active<br />

members over the next five years.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s face legal barriers when accessing<br />

capital – the subject of much lobbying by the<br />

movement over the past year – which “puts us at<br />

a potential competitive disadvantage”, she said.<br />

“But one thing we do have that the rest of our<br />

competitors don’t is the power of co-<strong>op</strong>eration.”<br />

Drawing inspiration from the success of SOK<br />

Group in Finland and <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> Norway, Khoury-<br />

Haq said: “What these organisations have in<br />

common is that the co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement has<br />

come together to be very clear about their core<br />

and non-core activities. While the independent<br />

societies have their own members and they serve<br />

them independently, they have consolidated<br />

buying, distribution, IT, marketing and<br />

membership platforms, and they have benefited<br />

from significant economies of scale.”<br />

She challenged other retail societies to “work<br />

together to create a co-<strong>op</strong> ecosystem that will<br />

challenge our competitors, while promoting co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

values, and doing good business.”<br />

Remuneration <strong>Co</strong>mmittee chair Stevie Spring<br />

highlighted measures to support colleagues,<br />

such as increasing the colleague member<br />

discount for <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>-branded products from 20%<br />

to 30%.<br />

Other actions included putting £225 onto<br />

each colleague’s membership card, aligning pay<br />

rates to the Real Living Wage, moving the hourly<br />

rate for customer team members by 10.1% from<br />

£9.90 to £10.90 per hour and investing £90m<br />

in colleague pay in <strong>2023</strong>. The Group’s pay ratio<br />

stands at 35/1, compared to 48/1 six years ago,<br />

28 | JUNE <strong>2023</strong>

said Spring, with current pay policy approved at<br />

last year’s AGM.<br />

Kenyatte Nelson, chief membership and<br />

customer officer, introduced the new member<br />

strategy. “It cannot be just about loyalty, it’s<br />

about enabling engagement in the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> and<br />

supporting communities,” he said, adding the<br />

Group is adding 20,000 new members per week.<br />

Paul Gerrard, campaigns, public affairs and<br />

board secretariat director, described some of the<br />

key campaigns led by the Group over the past<br />

year, including its work to tackle modern slavery<br />

and its efforts with other co-<strong>op</strong>s to secure new<br />

protections for sh<strong>op</strong> floor workers.<br />

“We’ve not done it individually, our society,”<br />

he said. “We’ve not won because we’re a<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative. We’ve won because we’re co<strong>op</strong>eratives,<br />

we won because of the co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

movement and we will win as co-<strong>op</strong>eratives.”<br />

His points were reiterated by Khoury-Haq,<br />

who said the Group was exploring <strong>op</strong>portunities<br />

with build economies of scale. “It’s really early<br />

days and I’m sure that you can imagine that a<br />

piece of work of this nature may take some time<br />

to materialise in our businesses,” she added,<br />

“but we are working quickly.”<br />

The first meeting had been held earlier in<br />

the month, followed a strategy session with<br />

other retail co-<strong>op</strong> CEOs. Possibilities include a<br />

common membership platform and wallet.<br />

The motions<br />

Motion 1: Approving the annual report (32,331 in<br />

favour, 98.44%)<br />

Motion 2: Directors’ remuneration report<br />

(89.53% in favour)<br />

Motion 3: <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erate report received (98.47%)<br />

Motion 4: Shirine Khoury-Haq re-elected as<br />

executive director (93.3%).<br />

Motions 5&6: Stevie Spring and Victor<br />

Adebowale re-elected as independent nonexecutive<br />

directors (91.94% and 93.41%).<br />

Motion 7: EY reappointed as auditors (96,71%).<br />

Motion 8: Joint board and council motion<br />

backing political expenditure including<br />

donations and/or subscriptions to political<br />

parties, not exceeding £750,000 in total for the<br />

year commencing 1 January 2024 (81.02%).<br />

Four advisory motions also passed.<br />

Motion 9 from the <strong>Co</strong>uncil asked the board<br />

“to showcase and celebrate the positive impact<br />

of our ethical and sustainable credentials for<br />

our members and customers, communities and<br />

our planet by promoting ethical and sustainable<br />

practices in our food stores through member<br />

offers, promotions, and our brand and marketing<br />

activity all year round.” (97.57%)<br />

p <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group CEO,<br />

Shirine Khoury-Haq,<br />

addresses members at<br />

the AGM<br />








YEARS”<br />



Motion 10, from <strong>Co</strong>uncil and supported by<br />

the Young Members’ Group, asked the board to<br />

ensure that the views and needs of young pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

are built into how decisions are made across the<br />

Group. It also encouraged the board to work with<br />

the wider movement to make co-<strong>op</strong>s relevant<br />

to all young pe<strong>op</strong>le and consider how to lobby<br />

for co-<strong>op</strong> business models to be included in the<br />

curriculum in schools. (98.09%)<br />

Motion 11, also from <strong>Co</strong>uncil, asked the board<br />

to work with the <strong>Co</strong>uncil to devel<strong>op</strong> new ways to<br />

communicate member ownership and the co-<strong>op</strong><br />

difference, and to broaden <strong>op</strong>portunities to make<br />

membership meaningful. (98.05%)<br />

Motion 12, from individual members, called<br />

on the Group to improve the welfare standards<br />

for chickens and consider ad<strong>op</strong>ting the Better<br />

Chicken <strong>Co</strong>mmitment in full. (96.36%)<br />

Prior to the vote Matt Hood, managing<br />

director, <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Food, said the board could not,<br />

in the current economic climate, support one<br />

of the measures in the motion – a call to ad<strong>op</strong>t<br />

breeds of chicken that meet the RSPCA Broiler<br />

Breed Welfare Assessment Protocol. “Asking our<br />

customer members to spend an extra 35% on a<br />

core staple ... I do not think is appr<strong>op</strong>riate at this<br />

point in time,” he said. “It’s not a ‘No, never,’ for<br />

me; it would be a ‘No, not today’.”<br />

But the Group would invest in lowering<br />

stocking density and enriching sheds, he said.<br />

The motion was initiated by Group members<br />

from the Humane League UK, an animal charity<br />

which campaigns for chicken welfare.<br />

”I am very proud that as a <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> member<br />

I will have a say on their future treatment of<br />

chickens,” said Aaron Parr, senior campaigner<br />

at the Humane League UK. “What makes our<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> unique is its democratic and progressive<br />

values. But ... <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> policy says that we have a<br />

‘pioneering’ approach to animal welfare. But to<br />

maintain that badge of honour, our <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> must<br />

improve farming practices and give all chickens<br />

better lives.”<br />

JUNE <strong>2023</strong> | 29

Playground for the<br />

New Economy <strong>2023</strong><br />

By Alice Toomer-McAlpine<br />

Stir to Action visited an urban setting for the 5th<br />

edition of its Playground for the New Economy<br />

festival, a programme of events which has<br />

previously been held in both fields and on<br />

screens.<br />

This year’s event, which took place on 19<br />

and 20 May at Stretford Public Hall in Greater<br />

Manchester, featured talks, worksh<strong>op</strong>s, music<br />

and networking <strong>op</strong>portunities for those working<br />

on the ideas and action needed to drive us into<br />

the “new economy”.<br />

The evening before the festival marked the<br />

10th anniversary of STIR magazine, Stir to<br />

Action’s quarterly publication, with a guest<br />

lecture from Carne Ross, former British diplomat<br />

and author of The Leaderless Revolution: how<br />

ordinary pe<strong>op</strong>le can take power and change<br />

politics in the 21st Century.<br />

In his talk, Ross argued that in order to build<br />

a successful democracy, we need to think more<br />

broadly than politicians and parliaments, to a<br />

system made up of “compounded elements that<br />

fit together to make a coherent and sustainable<br />

whole”, putting forward the co-<strong>op</strong>erative model<br />

of ownership as a “necessary component of a<br />

true democracy”.<br />

This argument was echoed in Friday’s first<br />

session of the day entitled ‘The Ownership Gap:<br />

Why it’s at the Root of Inequality’. <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

UK CEO Rose Marley stressed the need for<br />

mainstream conversations around ownership<br />

to go beyond the public vs. private binary,<br />

particularly when businesses fail. Marley offered<br />

the example of Thomas <strong>Co</strong>ok, hypothesising<br />

what might have happened there if the UK had<br />

systems in place to enable worker takeovers of<br />

failing businesses, such as Italy’s Marcora law.<br />

Examples of organisations working towards<br />

the new economy were also shared at the event,<br />

with members of co-<strong>op</strong>s, mutual aid groups,<br />

unions and community businesses sharing<br />

examples of their work on ground.<br />

One such example was the event’s host,<br />

Stretford Public Hall, who provided tours of the<br />

grade II listed building over the two days and<br />

shared their experience of bringing the hall into<br />

community ownership in 2015 after it had fallen<br />

into disrepair and faced closure. Charitable<br />

community benefit society Friends of Stretford<br />

Public Hall has over 800 members who have<br />

collectively raised over £1 million to transform<br />

the space into a community hub.<br />

Spaces and culture were also on the agenda<br />

elsewhere in the programme, such as in<br />

a session on social infrastructure, which<br />

showcased Projekts skatepark in Manchester<br />

and Kitty’s Launderette in Liverpool, both<br />

providing social space along with services for<br />

their local communities. Later, a session on DIY<br />

culture heard from speakers including dancer<br />

and artistic director Darren Pritchard, as well<br />

as DJ, curator and GMCA policy officer Rebecca<br />

Swarray, who also played for festival attendees<br />

on Friday night at a nearby venue.<br />

DIY community action was also looked at in<br />

the context of the energy and climate crisis. A<br />

session led by Carbon <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> posed the question,<br />

How appr<strong>op</strong>riate are ideas of mutual aid in<br />

responding to these large-scale challenges?<br />

Input from the audience around this question<br />

included the assertion that while mutual aid can<br />

p L-R: Suzanne<br />

Orchard, Rose Marley,<br />

Jonny Gordon-<br />

Farleigh, Keir Milburn)<br />

u Stretford Public<br />

Hall<br />

30 | JUNE <strong>2023</strong>

help to alleviate problems, it is not just a “means<br />

to an end”, but rather “the end in itself”.<br />

Panellist Mark Simmonds shared his<br />

experience in supporting co-<strong>op</strong>s and community<br />

businesses, explaining that “often stuff doesn’t<br />

get off the ground because [groups] need a<br />

constitution in order to apply for a grant, or they<br />

need a bank account, and it’s is getting harder<br />

and harder for smaller groups to set up.”<br />

Simmonds offered the example of a food<br />

sharing project in Hebden Bridge that is being<br />

funded through an online tool called Open<br />

<strong>Co</strong>llective, as a way groups can finance their<br />

activities without needing to set up formally.<br />

Deeper conversations around the food system<br />

were held in a session entitled ‘Changing the<br />

Face of British Farming’, which focused on<br />

barriers and <strong>op</strong>portunities for pe<strong>op</strong>le of colour<br />

in the farming sector.<br />

Researcher Naomi Terry explained that “in the<br />

UK, the legacy of our land is very, very much tied<br />

up with colonialism.” Terry recently authored a<br />

report for the Ecological Land <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative(ELC)<br />

entitled Jumping Fences, which presents the<br />

experiences of Black and pe<strong>op</strong>le of colour<br />

farming in Britain today.<br />

As part of its work, ELC purchases agricultural<br />

land and then sells or rents smallholdings at<br />

affordable rates to new entrants to ecological<br />

farming.<br />

Other inspirational examples of groups<br />

working towards the new economy were shared<br />

throughout the sessions and networking<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunities, such as the Landworkers’<br />

Alliance, Support and Action Women’s Network,<br />

Promising Trouble, Solidarity Economy<br />

Association and more.<br />

Alongside these examples were sessions that<br />

laid out some of the levers available to those<br />

trying to make change in their communities,<br />

including finance and government.<br />

On the t<strong>op</strong>ic of finance, Tim <strong>Co</strong>omer gave<br />

an overview of the social investment market,<br />

within which his organisation, <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative and<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity Finance, sits. <strong>Co</strong>omer noted that<br />

social investment needs to be patient, flexible,<br />

and offered over a long enough period of time.<br />

He also explained that loans can be seen as just<br />

one of the “three pillars” of community finance,<br />

along with grants and equity.<br />

An example of equity being used to finance<br />

member-owned businesses that has taken off<br />

in recent years is community shares, where<br />

members of a local community buy shares<br />

in a community asset or organisation, giving<br />

them a stake in the business. Alice Wharton of<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK explained that over £210m<br />

ORDER<br />

TO “IN<br />

BUILD A<br />



WE NEED TO<br />




AND<br />


in community shares has been raised for 540<br />

community owned businesses in the UK so far.<br />

Grantmakers also participated in discussions,<br />

posing the question: What might it look like for<br />

foundations to play a more active role in moving<br />

towards a democratic economy? Ali Torabi of<br />

Lankelly Chase highlighted the inconsistency<br />

that often grantmakers are investing around 95%<br />

of their wealth in funds that either have nothing<br />

to do with, or go directly against, the interests<br />

of the communities they are supporting. Torabi<br />

argued that this needs to change in order for<br />

foundations to play a meaningful part in a<br />

democratic economy.<br />

Examples of supportive political<br />

environments for a more democratic economy<br />

were also shared, such as the council-supported<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erate Islington agency, the wider <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

<strong>Co</strong>uncils’ Innovation Network, and the<br />

Scottish government’s decision to house its co<strong>op</strong><br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment agency within its wider Scottish<br />

Enterprise department. It was noted that local,<br />

regional and devolved governments are much<br />

more likely than the central government to<br />

engage in initiatives such as these.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity wealth building was brought into<br />

the conversation by ‘think and do tank’ CLES,<br />

which highlights five main levers for building<br />

wealth in local communities: employment,<br />

procurement, finance, land and ownership. In a<br />

session on the cost of living crisis, CLES’s CEO,<br />

Sarah Longlands, asserted that “extraordinary<br />

times call for bravery”, and challenged the<br />

audience to consider “How can these difficult<br />

times give us the energy and the insight to go<br />

further… what would we do in this space if we<br />

were brave?”<br />

JUNE <strong>2023</strong> | 31


Credit union services<br />

in a changing world<br />

By Anca Voinea<br />

With the world changing at an ever-quicker<br />

pace, credit unions need to work harder to avoid<br />

falling behind, warned experts at last month’s<br />

Swoboda Research <strong>Co</strong>nference.<br />

Opening the event, held in Portlaois, Ireland,<br />

on 23 May, Dr Paul A. Jones, director of research<br />

at Swoboda and reader in the social economy<br />

at Liverpool John Moores University, recalled<br />

Swoboda’s first paper on Irish credit unions.<br />

Published in 2017, it pointed out that Irish credit<br />

unions were not fully meeting the financial<br />

needs of members and consumers.<br />

Despite some changes since the report, such as<br />

greater commercial collaboration between credit<br />

unions, greater advocacy for regulatory changes<br />

and major devel<strong>op</strong>ments in product and service<br />

delivery, Jones urged more work to stay relevant.<br />

The first speaker, Charlie Weston, journalist<br />

at Independent.ie, agreed. “It’s no use pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

loving credit unions if they are not borrowing<br />

from them,” he said. The sector should also<br />

improve collaboration between credit unions of<br />

different sizes as well as between apexes.<br />

“At the moment bankers are not worried about<br />

you,” he added. “They need to be.”<br />

Cathal Doherty, statistician in p<strong>op</strong>ulation<br />

estimates and projections at Ireland’s Central<br />

Statistics Office, presented findings from last<br />

year’s census. Net migration is more volatile<br />

and difficult to predict than the natural increase,<br />

he said. An ageing p<strong>op</strong>ulation is also an issue:<br />

although Ireland has the EU’s third highest<br />

number of working pe<strong>op</strong>le for those aged 65<br />

and over, the old age dependency ratio is on<br />

the rise. Another trend has been the return of<br />

Irish migrants, which started to rise in 2011.<br />

These statistics are important for understanding<br />

national and local demographics, he said.<br />

A panel discussion followed, in which Weston<br />

and Dohetry were joined by Kevin Johnson, CEO<br />

at Credit Union Devel<strong>op</strong>ment Association; Mick<br />

McAteer, co-director of the Financial Inclusion<br />

Centre; and economist Alan McQuaid.<br />

Johnson said the 2022 Credit Union<br />

Amendment Bill is a great example of<br />

collaboration in achieving regulatory changes.<br />

McAteer pointed out that credit unions have a<br />

high penetration rate (pr<strong>op</strong>ortion of credit union<br />

members among economically active citizens) of<br />

113% in Ireland, compared to 10% for the rest of<br />

the world and 3% for the UK.<br />

But they need to make their low loans-toassets<br />

ratio (28.4%) sustainable in the long-term<br />

– and respond to technological change, stay<br />

32 | JUNE <strong>2023</strong>

elevant to young pe<strong>op</strong>le and react to the cost of<br />

living crisis.<br />

McQuaid also stressed the need to respond to<br />

technological changes, such as automation, and<br />

urged co-<strong>op</strong>s to make use of the trust they enjoy<br />

in local communities.<br />

Next up was a presentation from Lorraine<br />

<strong>Co</strong>rcoran from Afanite, a Dublin-based<br />

consultancy working with non-profits, whose<br />

paper on credit union small loans in Ireland will<br />

be published in collaboration with Swoboda later<br />

this year. Her research looks at the commercial<br />

viability and economics behind loans of up to<br />

€2,000.<br />

These are “bread and butter” for credit unions,<br />

she said, accounting for 49% of all loans issued<br />

by the sector in Ireland. But there is little active<br />

promotion of them, and no uniform product –<br />

which, she warns, makes it harder to reach new<br />

customers. Small loans are also admin-heavy<br />

and contribute little to income generation. She<br />

said credit unions should examine whether<br />

increasing the price of small loans would<br />

improve access to credit for riskier borrowers.<br />

The next speaker was Andrew Price, senior<br />

vice president of advocacy at the World <strong>Co</strong>uncil<br />

of Credit Unions, who praised Swoboda for its<br />

work, adding that “good quality research is<br />

critical to advocacy”.<br />

He encouraged credit unions to explore ways<br />

to work together to tackle joint challenges.<br />

“The possibilities are endless,” he said. “What<br />

are the challenges or obstacles that you have to<br />

overcome? Is there a way to set something up<br />

that will address those needs?”<br />

The conference also looked at the question<br />

of whether or not to expand common bonds.<br />

Catherine Byrne, from Dublin’s Health Services<br />

Staff Credit Union, said its efforts to offer<br />

services nationwide had proved challenging, as<br />

reaching members and potential members can<br />

be difficult. To address this, the credit union has<br />

been expanding its online offer and customer<br />

support, and switched to hybrid AGMs.<br />

Paula Maguire from Lucan District Credit Union<br />

in Dublin stressed the importance of educating<br />

members – by getting out in the community,<br />

giving presentations, and answering questions.<br />

Her credit union <strong>op</strong>erates in an area with a high<br />

immigrant p<strong>op</strong>ulation: most are skilled workers<br />

who played a key role in keeping the credit union<br />

afloat by taking loans during the pandemic.<br />

To attract a more diverse and younger board<br />

the credit union started offering qualifications.<br />

And with 95% of loan applications coming<br />

via the website or app, Lucan closed one of its<br />

branches to create a membership hub. Maguire<br />

argued that credit unions are not competing<br />

with banks – when Lucan launched its mortgage<br />

product, it viewed it as a unique credit union<br />

product for its members, she said.<br />

Elaine Rae, from the UK’s NHS Credit Union,<br />

agreed that credit unions should not compete<br />

with banks but provide different, membertargeted<br />

services. In an attempt to reach more<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le across the UK, her credit union launched<br />

Safe Harbour, a confidential service <strong>op</strong>en to all<br />

members, offering support to those experiencing<br />

economic abuse, helping them to take back<br />

control of their money. “It’s a really important<br />

piece of work,” she said.<br />

Alan Roche from Heritage Credit Union in<br />

Dublin described his organisation’s work to<br />

devel<strong>op</strong> a digital branch to reach customers who<br />

may not have time to visit their local branch.<br />

Heritage has also set out culture principles to<br />

drive behaviour change as it delivers services.<br />

Closing the event was consultant Miranda<br />

Flury, president of Hawkeye Strategies in<br />

Canada, who explained how credit unions could<br />

use scorecards to assess their performance. This<br />

can convey the purpose, vision and strategy of a<br />

credit union and act as a tool to show staff and<br />

the board what matters in the organisation.<br />

While there are different types of scorecards,<br />

including the Harvard Balanced Scorecard,<br />

their purpose is to get a 360-degree view of the<br />

business, said Flury. But she warned that credit<br />

unions can still fail if scoring 10+ on a scorecard.<br />

Wrapping up the conference, Swoboda’s<br />

director of devel<strong>op</strong>ment, Nick Money, said the<br />

centre is to publish a paper on ESGs in credit<br />

unions and another on loan products.<br />

The next Swoboda conference will take place<br />

in Manchester in November.<br />

“AROUND 49%<br />






€2,000<br />

t Alan Roche, Elaine<br />

Rae, Paula Maguire,<br />

Catherine Byrne at the<br />

Swoboda Research<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nference<br />

q Miranda Flury of<br />

Hawkeye Strategies<br />

explaining how<br />

scorecards can help<br />

credit unions measure<br />

performance<br />

(Photos: Joe <strong>Co</strong>nroy<br />

Photography/<br />

Swoboda)<br />

JUNE <strong>2023</strong> | 33

RESco<strong>op</strong> celebrates<br />

tenth anniversary<br />

at Athens gathering<br />

By Anca Voinea<br />

The transition towards renewable energy can<br />

play a key role in meeting the goals of the Paris<br />

Agreement of limiting the rise of global average<br />

temperatures to below two degrees Celsius, as<br />

pointed out by the United Nations Framework<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nvention on Climate Change.<br />

And while fossil fuels currently account for<br />

over 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions and<br />

nearly 90% of all carbon dioxide emissions, there<br />

are some signs of progress. The International<br />

Energy Agency predicts the share of renewables<br />

in the global power generation mix will rise from<br />

29% in 2022 to 35% in 2025.<br />

In the EU 22% of the energy consumed in<br />

2021 was generated from renewable sources,<br />

according to EEA. The Eur<strong>op</strong>ean Green Deal set<br />

the objective of making Eur<strong>op</strong>e a climate-neutral<br />

continent by 2050. Some countries are further<br />

ahead than others. With the highest share among<br />

the EU member states in 2021, Sweden had more<br />

than half of its energy from renewable sources in<br />

its gross final consumption of energy (62.6 %).<br />

Next came Finland (43.1 %) and Latvia (42.1 %).<br />

Meanwhile, Luxembourg (11.7 %), followed by<br />

Malta (12.2 %) and the Netherlands (12.3 %) had<br />

the lowest shares in the EU.<br />

One of the main pioneers of this renewable<br />

energy transition is RESco<strong>op</strong>, the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean<br />

federation of citizen energy co-<strong>op</strong>eratives.<br />

The past 12 months have been busy for<br />

RESco<strong>op</strong>, which celebrated its 10th anniversary<br />

at a recent <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Energy Spring Gathering<br />

in Athens.<br />

The event brought together energy<br />

communities from across Eur<strong>op</strong>e to explore best<br />

practices and exchange information on how to<br />

get projects off the ground.<br />

The gathering featured two streams, one<br />

aimed at community leaders from Eastern<br />

Eur<strong>op</strong>e and the Balkans to consolidate and<br />

support the community energy movement in the<br />

region, and another targeted at more established<br />

(or advanced) energy communities and members<br />

of RESco<strong>op</strong>.eu.<br />

The 23 thematic worksh<strong>op</strong>s covered t<strong>op</strong>ics<br />

such as policy and advocacy, collaboration<br />

34 | JUNE <strong>2023</strong>

etween municipalities and energy<br />

communities, reimagining economic systems<br />

beyond profit, and integrating social and gender<br />

justice in energy communities. Participants were<br />

also introduced to key tools for co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

organising, policy and legal frameworks, public<br />

financing <strong>op</strong>portunities, tackling energy poverty<br />

and community engagement and storytelling.<br />

Many of the 200 community energy participants<br />

also supported the local co-<strong>op</strong>erative economy<br />

by staying at Welcommon Hostel where various<br />

side events took place.<br />

RESco<strong>op</strong> president Dirk Vansintjan said:<br />

“Ten years ago a handful of citizen energy<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives from across Eur<strong>op</strong>e founded<br />

RESco<strong>op</strong>.eu to give a voice to a few thousands<br />

of bottom-up initiatives, but also to spread the<br />

community energy movement across the whole<br />

of Eur<strong>op</strong>e. At the EU level, impressive legislative<br />

and regulatory progress has been made, which<br />

is now being transposed and implemented in the<br />

member states.<br />

“We h<strong>op</strong>e that in the coming years this<br />

inevitably will lead to the growth of the<br />

movement, not in the least in Eastern Eur<strong>op</strong>e<br />

and the Balkans.”<br />

RESco<strong>op</strong> recently launched a Financing<br />

Tracker to assess whether and how EU public<br />

funds, such as the Recovery and Resilience<br />

Fund, <strong>Co</strong>hesion & Regional Devel<strong>op</strong>ment Funds,<br />

and the Modernisation Fund are being used by<br />

member states to support energy communities.<br />

The initiative is the result of a collaboration<br />

between RESco<strong>op</strong>.eu, CEE Bankwatch Network,<br />

and Climate Action Network.<br />

So far, RESco<strong>op</strong>’s research has covered<br />

19 member states. However, as the research<br />

advances, all EU27 will be included in the<br />

financing tracker.<br />

A 2020 study published in Renewable and<br />

Sustainable Energy Reviews found that EU<br />

citizens could mobilise up to €240bn towards<br />

the energy transition by 2030. Environmental<br />

consultancy firm CE Delft also estimates that by<br />

2050, one in two EU citizens could be producing<br />

their own energy, covering 45% of the EU’s<br />

demand.<br />

RESco<strong>op</strong> h<strong>op</strong>es its Tracker can be used as an<br />

advocacy tool by national campaigners, and as a<br />

clear communication roadmap for policymakers.<br />

And while the federation has already identified<br />

certain countries such as Germany, Ireland and<br />

the Netherlands, where EU funds are not used<br />

to support energy communities, it also found<br />

that these states have robust national support<br />

frameworks for energy communities in place.<br />

The EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility<br />

(RRF) was launched to mitigate the economic<br />

and social impact of <strong>Co</strong>vid-19 and make<br />

Eur<strong>op</strong>ean economies and societies more<br />

sustainable, resilient and better prepared for the<br />

challenges and <strong>op</strong>portunities of the green and<br />

digital transitions.<br />

RRF, which is funded through loans secured<br />

by the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean <strong>Co</strong>mmission on behalf of the<br />

EU, entered into force on 19 February 2021. To<br />

benefit from the support of the Facility, member<br />

states had to submit their recovery and resilience<br />

plans to the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean <strong>Co</strong>mmission, setting out<br />

the reforms and investments to be implemented<br />

by the end of 2026.<br />

The initiative represents an important<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunity for renewable energy co-<strong>op</strong>s since<br />

the <strong>Co</strong>mmission’s guidance on the plans calls<br />

for 37% of funds to be allocated to climate action<br />

(including renewable energy). The <strong>Co</strong>mmission’s<br />

guidelines also highlight energy communities as<br />

vehicles to tackle energy poverty.<br />

RESco<strong>op</strong>’s financing tracker will be frequently<br />

updated with new devel<strong>op</strong>ments in how<br />

countries implement EU public funds in their<br />

national financing programmes.<br />

The apex separates states into four categories<br />

based on their use of the RRF: member states<br />

with no mentions of energy communities or<br />

related concepts in the targeted <strong>op</strong>erational<br />

programmes (Ireland, France, Germany,<br />

Netherlands, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria,<br />

Estonia, Latvia, Slovenia, Croatia, Malta);<br />

member states that mentioned energy<br />

communities in their programs but in a very<br />

limited capacity (Hungary); member states that<br />

added energy communities to their programmes<br />

but limited to a specific type of actor or activity<br />

(Italy, Portugal, Greece, Czechia); and member<br />

states that included energy communities in their<br />

programmes, with specific programmes targeting<br />

their needs, with a full sc<strong>op</strong>e of activities and<br />

actors included (Spain, Poland and Lithuania).<br />

Resco<strong>op</strong> used 12 sub-criteria for its analysis,<br />

touching on various t<strong>op</strong>ics such as broader<br />

programme design, transparency, and alignment<br />

with transposition.<br />

Based on its findings to date, RES<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> calls<br />

on all EU member states to dedicate specific EU<br />

public funds to support energy communities,<br />

setting quantitative, time-bound goals for their<br />

growth. It also advises that funds “should<br />

support primarily energy communities that fulfil<br />

certain social and environmental criteria” and<br />

“no public EU funds should support fossil fuels<br />

(as is the case with the Modernisation Fund in<br />

countries like the Czech Republic, Bulgaria,<br />

Romania and others).”<br />

“IN THE EU 22%<br />



IN 2021 WAS<br />


FROM<br />


SOURCES,<br />


TO EEA<br />

JUNE <strong>2023</strong> | 35

Land justice and the future<br />

of farming<br />

Naomi Terry is a researcher whose most recent<br />

project involved working for the Ecological<br />

Land <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative (ELC) on a project called<br />

Jumping Fences. Also supported by Land In Our<br />

Names and Landworkers’ Alliance, the research<br />

identifies the presence of Black and Pe<strong>op</strong>le of<br />

<strong>Co</strong>lour (BPOC) farming in Britain and presents<br />

their experiences.<br />

ELC purchases agricultural land and<br />

subdivides it into ecologically managed<br />

residential smallholdings. The co-<strong>op</strong> sells or<br />

rents smallholdings at affordable rates to new<br />

entrants to ecological farming and monitors<br />

the holdings’ performance against its detailed<br />

ecological management plan.<br />

The Jumping Fences project aims to provide<br />

an evidence base for the ELC and other<br />

organisations to build their strategy from, and<br />

act to address barriers to farming for BPOC<br />

in Britain.<br />


I moved back to the UK a couple of years ago,<br />

having been living in the US and Sweden, and<br />

I had a thirst and a desire to get more engaged<br />

with farming and food growing.<br />

And I really couldn’t see the mechanisms<br />

for how I might be able to do that. I wasn’t<br />

going to be able to afford to just outright buy<br />

any land.<br />

I also didn’t necessarily have the kind of<br />

knowledge or support that I would need in<br />

order to understand how that works. There<br />

are problems like access to land, in terms<br />

of the financial barrier that exists, but also<br />

the structures around planning and land<br />

legislation are incredibly complex. I came<br />

across the ELC, through that desire to get into<br />

farming myself.<br />

The ELC were able to hire me to do a piece of<br />

work that was a little bit outside of what they<br />

do <strong>op</strong>erationally, but it’s more strategic, more<br />

feeding into the wider movement. I think that<br />

work is really important.<br />


THE ELC?<br />

Working with the ELC was my first experience of<br />

working with a co-<strong>op</strong> and I found it absolutely<br />

mind-blowing. It really <strong>op</strong>ened my eyes to learn<br />

how we were all paid the same amount, and that<br />

we all had the same financial economic value<br />

placed on the work we were doing.<br />

I really had a great time working there. I think<br />

some of the things that are made possible by<br />

working in this co-<strong>op</strong>erative format we had, were<br />

more of a shared process of decision-making, and<br />

I really appreciated the way in which everybody<br />

showed up for and was engaged in everything.<br />

That had its challenges as well as its benefits.<br />

36 | JUNE <strong>2023</strong>


The ELC is the only organisation that is doing<br />

what it’s doing in a rural context. There are<br />

other land co-<strong>op</strong>eratives, and co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

housing, for example, that have been around<br />

for a while. That model for co-<strong>op</strong>erative housing<br />

has been replicated and devel<strong>op</strong>ed and evolved<br />

in different ways throughout the country,<br />

and I think we could do with the same thing<br />

happening with ELC.<br />

ELC is great, and it should be replicated and<br />

evolved and fit into different contexts. It has done<br />

a lot of work to provide the tools to help replicate<br />

that model. They’ve devel<strong>op</strong>ed a <strong>Co</strong>mmunity<br />

Farmland Purchase Toolkit for pe<strong>op</strong>le who<br />

want to set up a community growing project<br />

on the land, which includes information about<br />

legislation and how to source good land, and<br />

then the governance structures of how to work<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratively, planning structures, and things<br />

that are more specifically related to farming<br />

as well. I find ELC to be very <strong>op</strong>en and sharing<br />

and encouraging of the replication of the sort of<br />

models that they’re using.<br />


In its structure, you become a member of the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative in different ways. Pe<strong>op</strong>le who work<br />

for the organisation – such as those on the daily<br />

<strong>op</strong>erational side of things, who are finding the<br />

land and building common infrastructure and<br />

doing other kinds of tangential work, like comms<br />

and admin – all members, but they’re not living<br />

on ELC land.<br />

Then there are pe<strong>op</strong>le who live on and manage<br />

the land – the stewards. There is also the board,<br />

then there are investors, like shareholders, and<br />

they’re members.<br />

Because I was employed on a short-term<br />

contract to deliver this particular project, I never<br />

actually became a ‘pr<strong>op</strong>er’ member, which didn’t<br />

really affect my engagement, but it’s important<br />

to note.<br />





One major barrier that is faced in terms of trying to<br />

transform the food system into something that is<br />

more equitable, and is working in harmony with<br />

nature and able to provide healthy, nutritious<br />

food that has come from not so far away, is<br />

enabling more pe<strong>op</strong>le with these fresh ideas of<br />

how we can do that to get access to land. And I<br />

think that because of the financial barriers that<br />

exist around buying land, for many pe<strong>op</strong>le, there<br />

isn’t really an <strong>op</strong>tion to do that on an individual<br />

or even in a family kind of situation. So I think<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative frameworks and community land<br />

trusts really provide an excellent framework for<br />

how we can do more of that.<br />



With my work, that’s been much more focused<br />

on the challenges for Black pe<strong>op</strong>le and Pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

of <strong>Co</strong>lour, the financial barrier is a huge, huge<br />

thing. And not only that, but having feelings of<br />

working in solidarity with pe<strong>op</strong>le that you have<br />

a shared background with.<br />

It would be really amazing would be to<br />

devel<strong>op</strong> a co-<strong>op</strong> or a community land trust that’s<br />

led by Black pe<strong>op</strong>le and Pe<strong>op</strong>le of <strong>Co</strong>lour, to<br />

have that space and build something together on<br />

the land. A community land trust or some kind<br />

of BPOC-led land project would be my dream<br />

for the future. And I think it’s a dream that a lot<br />

of pe<strong>op</strong>le would be on board with, and want to<br />

jump on. Working with ELC has kind of <strong>op</strong>ened<br />

up my eyes to some of the mechanisms for how<br />

that could happen.<br />

The ELC really started out of a collection of<br />

really impassioned individuals that were giving<br />

a lot of their time and energy into this because<br />

they really believed in it and they built it from<br />

that passion. I believe that passion still exists<br />

today, and pe<strong>op</strong>le can galvanise that, but I also<br />

feel like we’re all a bit more squeezed and to<br />

build something off of your own back without<br />

being resourced, that’s quite a lot to ask as well.<br />

There are a lot of models out there, and I think<br />

the co-<strong>op</strong>erative model is a great one, of how we<br />

can work together and support common goals<br />

that will bring us towards a more liveable future.<br />

There’s also a lot that I think is still being<br />

birthed, in terms of how we govern those groups,<br />

how we hold diversity within those groups, and<br />

how we hold conflict that comes with diversity,<br />

and with the liberation of historically <strong>op</strong>pressed<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le. I think it’s a great time to be engaged with<br />

these things. I’m hearing those conversations<br />

happening more and more.<br />

Read the Jumping Fences report at<br />

bit.ly/3MYvd5y<br />

“WORKING<br />





A CO-OP AND<br />

I FOUND IT<br />



JUNE <strong>2023</strong> | 37

Where do the ICA principles<br />

stand on the environment?<br />

By Anca Voinea<br />

q <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

principles: Some<br />

members are<br />

keen to make the<br />

commitment of co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

to the environment or<br />

equality more visible<br />







Ad<strong>op</strong>ted in 1995, the revised Statement on the<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Identity contains the definition of<br />

a co-<strong>op</strong>erative, the values of co-<strong>op</strong>eratives, and<br />

the seven co-<strong>op</strong>erative principles.<br />

Last year, around 2,290 respondents took<br />

part in the ICA’s survey on the statement. This<br />

formed part of a wider consultation by the apex<br />

to determine whether the statement is still fit for<br />

purpose. Some respondents said the statement<br />

works well as an ideal and in reality; others<br />

argued that it works well as an ideal but there is<br />

a gap between this and the reality on the ground;<br />

and another group said the statement is not in<br />

itself effective and may not work well in practice.<br />

As a result, <strong>op</strong>inions also varied on how to<br />

proceed forward. Some respondents said the<br />

current statement is good enough while others<br />

said it needs to be updated to strengthen the<br />

movement’s contribution to addressing societal<br />

problems and the environmental crisis.<br />

But what do the statement and the seven<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative principles actually say with regards<br />

to the environment?<br />

The 7th co-<strong>op</strong>erative principle of <strong>Co</strong>ncern<br />

for <strong>Co</strong>mmunity states that “<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

work for the sustainable devel<strong>op</strong>ment of their<br />

communities through policies approved by their<br />

members”.<br />

To further emphasise the application of the<br />

principles in contemporary terms for the 21st<br />

century, the ICA released the Guidance Notes on<br />

the <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Principles in 2016.<br />

These provide detailed guidance and advice<br />

on the practical application of the principles<br />

to co-<strong>op</strong>erative enterprises and point out<br />

that the wording of this 7th principle places<br />

the primary emphasis on “concern for the<br />

sustainable devel<strong>op</strong>ment of their immediate<br />

local communities within which co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

<strong>op</strong>erate”. Furthermore, it is argued, this concern<br />

for the sustainable devel<strong>op</strong>ment of immediate<br />

local communities led to the co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

movement’s wider concerns for sustainable<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment of communities nationally,<br />

regionally and globally.<br />

The Guidance Notes also emphasise the<br />

importance of the 5th co-<strong>op</strong>erative principle<br />

38 | JUNE <strong>2023</strong>

(Education, Training, and Information) with<br />

regards to the environment, explaining that<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives can help to raise awareness<br />

about “the social, economic and environmental<br />

advantages” of sustainable co-<strong>op</strong> enterprises.<br />

“This principle embraces within it the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement’s concern for, and a<br />

commitment to work for, sustainable economic,<br />

environmental and social devel<strong>op</strong>ment that<br />

benefits communities as well as a co-<strong>op</strong>erative’s<br />

own members,” reads the text.<br />

Environmental responsibilities<br />

The Guidance Notes argue that with the ad<strong>op</strong>tion<br />

of the <strong>Co</strong>ncern for <strong>Co</strong>mmunity principle in 1995,<br />

environmental protection is included as a part of<br />

the ICA Statement on the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Identity.<br />

This principle also brought new responsibilities<br />

for co-<strong>op</strong>eratives.<br />

According to the Guidance Notes, it “places a<br />

duty on elected boards and management to seek<br />

approval from members in general assembly to<br />

policies that positively impact on the sustainable<br />

community devel<strong>op</strong>ment”.<br />

As such, members have the responsibility to<br />

manage through democratic rights the tension<br />

between their self-interest and the wider concern<br />

for community.<br />

As pointed out by the Guidance Notes,<br />

“in practice, there are many examples of co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

members demanding a greater<br />

commitment to economic, environmental and<br />

social devel<strong>op</strong>ment by their co-<strong>op</strong>erative”.<br />

The Guidance Notes also highlight that<br />

all co-<strong>op</strong>eratives “have a responsibility<br />

and duty to consider and reduce their<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative’s environmental impact and<br />

promote environmental sustainability within<br />

their business <strong>op</strong>erations and in the communities<br />

in which they <strong>op</strong>erate.”<br />

But the document also warns that “the<br />

magnitude of the environmental challenge<br />

demands that it be tackled jointly and in a<br />

coordinated way”, calling on co-<strong>op</strong>s to not<br />

only implement their own environmental<br />

conservation strategies, but to also actively<br />

contribute to raising awareness among other<br />

sectors of society.<br />

“<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives are known for pursuing the<br />

common good, so they are in an excellent place<br />

to stimulate and lead advocacy of this kind,”<br />

reads the text.<br />

Prior debates<br />

Discussions around the t<strong>op</strong>ic of environmental<br />

sustainability existed before the ad<strong>op</strong>tion of the<br />

revised Statement in 1995. The ICA’s <strong>Co</strong>ngress in<br />

“<br />









Tokyo in 1992 focused on the issue of sustainable<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment and even passed a Declaration on<br />

the Environment and Sustainable Devel<strong>op</strong>ment.<br />

The GA also published a report on “<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

and Environment”.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nversations continued and, in 2019, the<br />

Kigali Resolution <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives for Devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

called on governments and other actors to use<br />

the identity statement to create an enabling<br />

environment for co-<strong>op</strong>eratives and maximise<br />

their potential and thus contribution to the UN’s<br />

Sustainable Devel<strong>op</strong>ment Goals.<br />

Two years later the ICA released a research<br />

paper, <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eration for the transition to a green<br />

economy, which features eight case studies<br />

from all ICA regions and showcases a variety of<br />

environmental actions from co-<strong>op</strong>eratives.<br />

Ways forward<br />

Whether the current principles and identity<br />

statement pay enough attention to the<br />

environment is for ICA members around the<br />

world to decide. But it would not be the first time<br />

the ICA principles have been amended. They<br />

are based on the eight<br />

original Rochdale<br />

Principles, and have<br />

been updated and<br />

amended periodically,<br />

beginning with<br />

the 15th World<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative <strong>Co</strong>ngress<br />

in Paris in 1937.<br />

While some are<br />

keen to make the<br />

commitment of co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

to the environment<br />

or equality more<br />

visible in the<br />

statement, others<br />

fear that amending<br />

the principles or<br />

the statement would diminish their current<br />

importance. In its current form the statement<br />

is mentioned in the International Labour<br />

Organization (ILO) Recommendation 193 on<br />

the Promotion of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives, which serves<br />

as a reference point to national regulators and<br />

legislators. It is for this reason that some co<strong>op</strong>erators<br />

are reluctant to change the statement.<br />

Others think that should the movement<br />

decide to add an eighth principle, it could then<br />

lobby the ILO to ad<strong>op</strong>t a new recommendation.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives have a considerable advantage<br />

holding an observer status at the ILO.<br />

Another <strong>op</strong>tion could be amending the<br />

Guidance Notes on the <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Principles.<br />

JUNE <strong>2023</strong> | 39

Can co-<strong>op</strong>s keep up with<br />

the green transition?<br />

By Miles Hadfield<br />

The push for net zero has sparked tensions<br />

around the world as policymakers try to strike<br />

a balance between limiting climate change and<br />

protecting supplies of food and power.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s, like other businesses, are under<br />

pressure to make their <strong>op</strong>erations more<br />

sustainable, and are responding in a number of<br />

ways. For the world to cut its emissions, pe<strong>op</strong>le’s<br />

homes will have to become more energy-efficient<br />

– no mean feat for the UK’s draughty housing<br />

stock, with social housing <strong>op</strong>erating on tight<br />

margins. Some co-<strong>op</strong>s like the Manchester-based<br />

Carbon <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> are working on retrofit solutions,<br />

while sector apex the <strong>Co</strong>nfederation of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Housing has dedicated significant<br />

portions of its recent annual conferences to the<br />

issue – and in March won a £1.2m government<br />

grant to retrofit 112 pr<strong>op</strong>erties.<br />

Retail co-<strong>op</strong>s are also facing calls – not<br />

least from their own consumers – to cut their<br />

environmental footprint.<br />

This is all well and good, but sustainability<br />

also applies to the food co-<strong>op</strong>s sell. And farmers<br />

– already facing cost pressures, changing<br />

“AS WE<br />



ECONOMY,<br />







consumer tastes and a growing p<strong>op</strong>ulation<br />

to feed – are being asked to do their bit. Mike<br />

Robinson, chief executive of the Royal Scottish<br />

Geographical Society, told Scottish farm co-<strong>op</strong>s at<br />

their sector conference this year that agriculture<br />

makes up 11% of UK climate emissions – and<br />

that sustainable food is “an inevitable direction<br />

of travel”.<br />

That conference, organised by the Scottish<br />

Agricultural Organisation Society, outlined a<br />

number of ideas to achieve this goal. Other agri<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s, like dairies Arla and First Milk, have also<br />

set out ambitious climate targets.<br />

As has New Zealand’s Fonterra, which says:<br />

“We have set science-based targets using the<br />

Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTI) and<br />

are taking action to address climate change<br />

by reducing our emissions in transport and<br />

manufacturing and finding ways to manage and<br />

mitigate animal emissions on farms.”<br />

It adds: “We have an aspiration to be net zero<br />

globally by 2050. ​We also have a 2030 target to<br />

reduce manufacturing and transport emissions<br />

in Australia by 30% from a 2018 baseline, and<br />

we’re well on track to meet this target.”<br />

That’s not enough to ward off protesters: in<br />

March, two Greenpeace activists were arrested<br />

for trespass at the co-<strong>op</strong>’s Auckland HQ,<br />

blocking the main entrance with what they said<br />

was flood-damaged furniture.<br />

Greenpeace said Fonterra is New Zealand’s<br />

biggest producer of climate emissions and wants<br />

big dairy companies to be fully included in the<br />

government’s emissions trading scheme (ETS); it<br />

accuses Fonterra and other big agri-businesses<br />

of lobbying the government to reduce their<br />

obligations.<br />

As a result, says Greenpeace, “the government<br />

promised the lowest price possible, fixed for five<br />

years, with all revenue recycled back to industry”<br />

– although a final decision is still pending.<br />

Policy tensions are also evident in the EU:<br />

Eur<strong>op</strong>ean agri co-<strong>op</strong> apexes <strong>Co</strong>pa and <strong>Co</strong>geca<br />

40 | JUNE <strong>2023</strong>

have joined other farm lobbyists in calling for<br />

compromise on green measures, fearing it will<br />

make them uncompetitive. It has been critical of<br />

plans to curb single plastic use, and welcomed<br />

an agreement by the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean <strong>Co</strong>uncil in April to<br />

set targets for renewable energy consumption at<br />

42.5% by 2030. That same deal was criticised as<br />

unambitious by renewable co-<strong>op</strong> apex RESco<strong>op</strong>,<br />

which fears it risks “killing the momentum of<br />

Eur<strong>op</strong>e’s energy transition”.<br />

There are similar tensions in the energy<br />

sector: some leaders from the US electric co-<strong>op</strong><br />

movement worry that the dash to ditch fossils<br />

will hamper their ability to keep the power on.<br />

In March last year, national electric co-<strong>op</strong> body<br />

NRECA joined calls on the US Supreme <strong>Co</strong>urt to<br />

leave the power to set fossil fuel emission levels<br />

with individual states, rather than at federal<br />

level. “<strong>Co</strong>ngress has recognised every state is<br />

different; the <strong>Co</strong>urt’s decision should recognise<br />

this fact,” said NRECA CEO Jim Matheson.<br />

Three months later, the Supreme <strong>Co</strong>urt made<br />

its ruling on the case – brought by coal-mining<br />

state West Virginia – <strong>op</strong>ting to keep control<br />

of fossil emissions at state level, marking a<br />

defeat for the Biden administration and the<br />

Environmental Protection Agency.<br />

Matheson’s concern is the risk of blackout if<br />

electricity supplies fail. “We talk about all of the<br />

change in the energy industry, but I’ll tell you<br />

something that hasn’t changed for us: job one is<br />

keeping the lights on,” he said in a speech to the<br />

US Energy Association’s 19th Annual State of the<br />

Energy Industry Forum in January. “I fear that<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le in the policy world are not recognising<br />

the importance of reliability.”<br />

In the speech, Matheson said rolling blackouts<br />

in nine states during the 2022 festive season<br />

“demonstrated how vulnerable the grid and<br />

power supplies are to weather spikes and why<br />

any transition to new energy resources must be<br />

pr<strong>op</strong>erly managed”.<br />

He warned that federal agencies can draft<br />

rules which inadvertently harm the grid: “We<br />

understand the <strong>op</strong>portunity of new technologies<br />

available for the future and we are excited about<br />

them. But when you talk about a transition, they<br />

are never totally smooth.”<br />

He added: “As we continue to electrify the<br />

economy, the grid is going to be even more<br />

important and all the more stressed. We pride<br />

ourselves in the co-<strong>op</strong> world as being the<br />

truth-tellers, and we don’t gloss over the words<br />

‘affordability’ and ‘reliability.’ It’s our mission<br />

every day and what we do for our members.”<br />

But he welcomed federal initiatives such<br />

as direct-pay tax incentives for co-<strong>op</strong> energy<br />

investments, and the Empowering Rural<br />

America (New ERA) programme which will offer<br />

$9.7bn (£7.85bn) in voluntary grants and loans<br />

exclusively to co-<strong>op</strong>s to buy or build renewable<br />

energy systems, zero-emission and carbon<br />

capture systems.<br />

New ERA, announced last month by the<br />

US Department of Agriculture (USDA), arrives<br />

alongside the Powering Affordable Clean Energy<br />

(PACE) programme, which offers $1bn (£0.81bn)<br />

available in partially forgiveable loans to<br />

renewable energy devel<strong>op</strong>ers and electric service<br />

providers to help finance large-scale solar, wind,<br />

geothermal, biomass, hydr<strong>op</strong>ower projects and<br />

energy storage.<br />

This represents the largest single investment<br />

in rural electrification since Roosevelt’s New<br />

Deal in the 1930s, and will “combat climate<br />

change and significantly reduce air and water<br />

pollution that put children’s health at risk”, said<br />

USDA secretary Tom Vilsack.<br />

Many players in the electric co-<strong>op</strong> movement<br />

are already making the change: there are growing<br />

numbers of local solar co-<strong>op</strong>s springing up, and<br />

there are notable examples of existing co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

like Kauai Island Utility <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative which have<br />

made strong efforts to devel<strong>op</strong> clean energy.<br />

And <strong>Co</strong>re Electric <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative, the largest notfor-profit<br />

electric co-<strong>op</strong> in <strong>Co</strong>lorado, which has<br />

signed a wholesale supply deal with renewable<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>er Invenergy.<br />

This is not always an easy path, as several<br />

electric co-<strong>op</strong>s found when they tried to break<br />

free of their contracts with wholesaler Tri-State<br />

Generation and Transmission so they could<br />

switch from fossil power to renewables – a<br />

process that led to lengthy legal battles over<br />

exit fees. The exodus has prompted Tri-State –<br />

a secondary co-<strong>op</strong> which supplies electric co<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

in <strong>Co</strong>lorado, Wyoming, New Mexico,<br />

and Nebraska – to make its own steps toward<br />

sustainability.<br />

p The Kauai Island<br />

Utility <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

is one of several<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s which have<br />

made strong efforts to<br />

devel<strong>op</strong> clean energy<br />

(image: KIU)<br />

t A climate change<br />

strike in New<br />

Zealand in March<br />

drew attention to<br />

the impact of big<br />

dairy – including<br />

agri-co-<strong>op</strong>s such as<br />

Fonterra – on the<br />

environment (image:<br />

Lynn Grieveson/Getty<br />

Images)<br />

JUNE <strong>2023</strong> | 41

Food sustainability:<br />


By Alice<br />

Toomer-McAlpine<br />

In recent years, sustainability has been rising<br />

up the agenda for the food industry – but what<br />

about those for whom sustainability has been<br />

a core part of the way they have done business<br />

from the beginning?<br />

Suma Wholefoods is a co-<strong>op</strong>erative retailer<br />

that supplies over 7,000 responsibly sourced<br />

vegan and vegetarian products to businesses and<br />

customers across the UK and internationally.<br />

Founded in 1975 by Reg Taylor, and converted<br />

to a worker co-<strong>op</strong> two years later, Suma’s aim was<br />

to provide healthy food to communities in the<br />

North of England via a network of independent<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s and buying groups.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative member S<strong>op</strong>hie Ziegler-Jones<br />

draws parallels between Suma and the Rochdale<br />

Pioneers’ early motivations. “Whilst Suma<br />

wasn’t a co-<strong>op</strong> when it was initially thought of,<br />

[Reg] wanted to provide food that was otherwise<br />

unavailable that he was passionate about.” This,<br />

she says mirrors “the initial historical aim of the<br />

Rochdale co-<strong>op</strong>: to create fair access to good<br />

quality, adulterated food for all.”<br />

Ziegler-Jones adds that while Suma has been<br />

vegetarian ever since the beginning, “veganism<br />

and vegetarianism have gone from being<br />

slightly quirky and unusual to being absolutely<br />

mainstream. The only thing that’s changed<br />

in 46 years is the availability of products, an<br />

understanding of the market and demand.”<br />

Suma was a pioneer of wholefoods, sourcing<br />

items that were difficult to get hold of in the<br />

1970s, such as lentils and chickpeas. It was<br />

also the first to bring organic canned tomatoes<br />

and beans to the UK market and, in the 1980s,<br />

launched the UK’s first vegan sunflower spread.<br />

Despite being a leader in many of the areas we<br />

now link to the sustainability agenda, Suma has<br />

only recently begun to measure and share this<br />

work, in the form of a sustainability strategy and<br />

annual report, launched last month.<br />

“Our sustainability strategy is officially new,<br />

but it’s not a new way of working for us. We’ve<br />

just formalised it,” explains Ziegler-Jones.<br />

There are a number of reasons why Suma has<br />

chosen to formalise its sustainability strategy<br />

now, including the urgency of the climate crisis.<br />

A central aim of the strategy is to set some<br />

measurable targets Suma can work towards,<br />

says Ben Pearson, Suma’s sustainability<br />

reporting coordinator, such as the business’s<br />

sc<strong>op</strong>e one, two and three carbon emissions.<br />

Sc<strong>op</strong>e one refers to Suma’s direct emissions<br />

from owned sources, two refers to its indirect<br />

emissions from purchased energy, and three to<br />

indirect emissions that occur in Suma’s value<br />

chain. So far Suma has had its sc<strong>op</strong>e one and<br />

two emissions verified, and is working towards<br />

the verification of its sc<strong>op</strong>e three emissions so<br />

that they can be tracked over time.<br />

“For a starting point, we’re getting some usable<br />

data that we can use to set Net Zero targets that<br />

are in line with science,” says Pearson.<br />

The initial report states: “We understand that<br />

42 | JUNE <strong>2023</strong>

society increasingly expects transparency from<br />

businesses on their environmental, social and<br />

governance performance, supported by accurate<br />

and data-driven reporting on their impacts. We<br />

know we must begin to effectively communicate<br />

what we do in this area therefore we will publish<br />

an annual sustainability report to show our<br />

progress each year towards our 2030 goals.”<br />

Suma’s 2030 Sustainability Goals fall under<br />

six key areas: net zero, zero waste, nature,<br />

decent work, healthy and sustainable diets and<br />

education and engagement.<br />

Suma aims to reach Net Zero greenhouse<br />

gases (GHGs) for sc<strong>op</strong>e one and two emissions<br />

by 2035, and decarbonise its truck fleet by <strong>2023</strong>,<br />

by switching to electric and alternative fuel<br />

vehicles. The organisation is also adding its voice<br />

to Business Declares, a network of businesses<br />

that are declaring a climate and ecological<br />

emergency, and committing to create, publish<br />

and implement a Climate Action Plan explaining<br />

what actions will be taken toward achieving net<br />

zero targets and biodiversity improvements, and<br />

to publish progress annually.<br />

Among other things, Suma aims to be a zero<br />

waste to landfill business by 2030, with all its<br />

own-brand packaging made from at least 30%<br />

recycled materials, and plans to increase its<br />

percentage of organic own-brand products to<br />

75%. As part of its decent work goals, it’s working<br />

towards B-<strong>Co</strong>rp status, aiming to support living<br />

wages throughout its supply chain by 2030.<br />

The strategy has been devel<strong>op</strong>ed in<br />

partnership with its worker members,<br />

explains Pearson.<br />

“It was really collaborative. The fact<br />

that we all have an equal say made us<br />

want to get every member’s <strong>op</strong>inion.”<br />

The sustainability team engaged with<br />

Suma’s members at the co-<strong>op</strong>’s quarterly<br />

general meetings, Q&A sessions and<br />

worksh<strong>op</strong>s, as well as through a survey.<br />

“It did take us a while to make [the<br />

strategy], because of all these consultations …<br />

but I’m kind of glad it’s taken a while because<br />

it shows that we have put in the effort and taken<br />

the time to make one that’s worthwhile.”<br />

Looking outside of the co-<strong>op</strong>, a key part of<br />

Suma’s work is its adherence to principle six, co<strong>op</strong>eration<br />

among co-<strong>op</strong>s. Ziegler-Jones explains<br />

that they work with many small co-<strong>op</strong>s from<br />

overseas, who supply Suma with products such<br />

as coconut, jackfruit and coffee; and in turn,<br />

Suma supplies UK retail co-<strong>op</strong>s with a range of<br />

products from its vegan convenience range.<br />

Another central part of Suma’s sustainability<br />

considerations, which has been the case since<br />

it started, is its meat free status. According to<br />

the vegetarian society, eating a meat-free diet<br />

creates 2.5 times less carbon emissions than an<br />

average diet containing meat.<br />

Ziegler-Jones says, this is an “absolutely<br />

integral” element of Suma’s work, adding: “A<br />

lot of pe<strong>op</strong>le are eating less meat and more<br />

vegetarian and vegan food, just because it’s<br />

there, it’s tasty, it’s delicious, it’s accessible. And<br />

also, it’s certainly cheaper in many instances. So<br />

in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis, it’s a good<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunity for pe<strong>op</strong>le to save some money as<br />

well as eat really healthily.”<br />

Suma has often been at the forefront of<br />

innovation when it comes to meat-free and<br />

plant-based foods and recently won an award<br />

for its new vegan, gluten-free and organic<br />

Edamame Hummus. New products on<br />

the horizon include a crowdsourced<br />

“chicken” soup, which was called<br />

for by Suma customers during a<br />

Veganuary hamper competition<br />

this year, as well as an expansion of<br />

the canned convenience range.<br />

Despite the fact that many of<br />

the elements of Suma’s activity<br />

regarding sustainability and<br />

responsible consumption are<br />

becoming more widely accepted across<br />

the food industry, Pearson says that it is Suma’s<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative status that more easily enables this<br />

kind of forward thinking and action. While the<br />

decision making process can take longer in a<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>, co-<strong>op</strong>s are on the whole able to adapt to<br />

changing challenges swiftly as members bring<br />

issues forward.<br />

“I think co-<strong>op</strong>s are quite quick to adapt<br />

because they are a member run. We can vote<br />

on things and agree things in general meetings<br />

and shift our direction, while maintaining<br />

our long standing values… [co-<strong>op</strong>s] have the<br />

responsibility to respond to changes quickly and<br />

to lead.”<br />

p Suma sustainability<br />

reporting coordinator,<br />

Ben Pearson,<br />

planting trees on<br />

behalf of Suma with<br />

local organisation<br />

Treesponsibility<br />

t Suma’s awardwinning<br />

Edamame<br />

Hummus<br />

“OUR<br />




BUT IT’S NOT A<br />

NEW WAY OF<br />


US. WE’VE JUST<br />


JUNE <strong>2023</strong> | 43

Re-greening a continent<br />

By Rebecca Harvey<br />

As the world faces the challenge of needing to<br />

produce more food for a growing p<strong>op</strong>ulation<br />

while also protecting natural forests for<br />

biodiversity conservation and climate change<br />

mitigation, there are some important dates<br />

to keep in mind. World Environment Day is<br />

celebrated on 5 <strong>June</strong> and encourages awareness<br />

and action for the protection of the environment.<br />

On 1 July, the co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement will see the<br />

<strong>2023</strong> International Day of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives take the<br />

theme “<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives: partners for accelerated<br />

sustainable devel<strong>op</strong>ment”. And this September<br />

marks the halfway point in the implementation<br />

of the Sustainable Devel<strong>op</strong>ment Goals (SDGs),<br />

ad<strong>op</strong>ted by UN Member States in 2015 as part of<br />

the 2030 Agenda.<br />

The International <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Alliance (ICA)<br />

recently highlighted how the co-<strong>op</strong> movement<br />

“was the first group of enterprises worldwide to<br />

endorse the SDGS and be recognised as a partner<br />

in achieving these goals”, adding that the<br />

<strong>2023</strong> IDC slogan ‘<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives for sustainable<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment’ “will show how the co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

way of working, inspired by the co-<strong>op</strong> values<br />

and principles, has the accomplishment of the<br />

Sustainable Devel<strong>op</strong>ment Goals (SDGs) as part<br />

of its DNA.”<br />

But according to the UN’s Sustainable<br />

Devel<strong>op</strong>ment Goals Report 2022, “cascading and<br />

interlinked crises are putting the 2030 Agenda<br />

for Sustainable Devel<strong>op</strong>ment in grave danger,<br />

along with humanity’s very own survival”.<br />

The report highlights the severity and<br />

magnitude of the challenges ahead, as a<br />

confluence of crises – dominated by <strong>Co</strong>vid-19,<br />

climate change and conflicts – is creating<br />

spin-off impacts on food and nutrition, health,<br />

education, the environment, and peace and<br />

security. “We must rise higher to rescue the SDGs<br />

– and stay true to our promise of a world of peace,<br />

dignity and prosperity on a healthy planet,” said<br />

UN secretary-general, António Guterres.<br />

One country where this confluence is acutely<br />

apparent is Ethi<strong>op</strong>ia, where the rich ecology<br />

varies from deserts along its eastern border to<br />

tr<strong>op</strong>ical forests in the south. It is also a country<br />

of conflict; most recently the Tigray War (3<br />

November 2020 – 3 November 2022) between the<br />





PEOPLE<br />

AND THE<br />


Ethi<strong>op</strong>ian federal government and Eritrea on one<br />

side, and the Tigray Pe<strong>op</strong>le’s Liberation Front<br />

(TPLF) on the other. According to researchers<br />

at Ghent University in Belgium, as many as<br />

600,000 pe<strong>op</strong>le had died as a result of warrelated<br />

violence and famine by late 2022.<br />

It is also an area vulnerable to drought,<br />

exacerbated by the climate crisis and made<br />

worse by deforestation (currently at an estimated<br />

350km sq/yr). But at the same time, it’s a place<br />

where co-<strong>op</strong>eratives are seen as an effective tool<br />

in mitigating deforestation. The international<br />

charity Farm Africa, for example, works with<br />

communities to devel<strong>op</strong> economic incentives<br />

to sustainably manage and protect forests by<br />

helping them to set up co-<strong>op</strong>s and earn a living<br />

from forest-friendly businesses, like wild coffee<br />

harvesting and beekeeping.<br />

“At the root of eastern Africa’s deforestation<br />

lies ineffective forest management,” says the<br />

organisation, which champions the use of<br />

participatory forest management, a framework<br />

in which local communities and the government<br />

are empowered to manage the benefits and<br />

responsibilities of the forest together.<br />

Ali Gilo, chair of the Girbissa Forest<br />

Management <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative in Bale, Ethi<strong>op</strong>ia,<br />

adds: “Before, the forest was managed by<br />

the government, so we didn’t care about its<br />

44 | JUNE <strong>2023</strong>

condition, but now we are managing it with<br />

the government, so we feel ownership and<br />

responsibility. The whole co-<strong>op</strong>erative has<br />

benefited. Pe<strong>op</strong>le no longer cut down trees for<br />

fuel or livestock grazing.”<br />

Tree Aid is another organisation working<br />

in Ethi<strong>op</strong>ia, this time in the north, where<br />

temperatures are rising and land is becoming<br />

infertile. Here you’ll find the Metema forest in<br />

the last green belt before the start of the desert,<br />

where frankincense trees are a lifeline for local<br />

communities, providing up to 30% of household<br />

income for the families who sell their resin.<br />

But, warns Tree Aid, this forest will be on the<br />

brink of extinction in 20 years if no action is<br />

taken to save it. “The climate crisis, high rates<br />

of tree felling, forest fires and unsustainable<br />

tapping for frankincense is st<strong>op</strong>ping the forest<br />

from regenerating,” it says. “This will have a<br />

devastating impact on communities that rely on<br />

the forest for food and income.<br />

“There will be no buffer between them and the<br />

encroaching desert.”<br />

Tree Aid’s Devel<strong>op</strong>ing Rural Resilience<br />

programme, running until autumn 2024, aims to<br />

support communities with the tools and training<br />

they need to sustainably use frankincense trees<br />

and protect them for the future.<br />

Partners in the programme include the UK’s<br />

Forest Research, which will assist with remote<br />

sensing analysis, providing data on the condition<br />

and distribution of frankincense trees, which<br />

will, in turn, help support conservation efforts<br />

and allow for the devel<strong>op</strong>ment of management<br />

plans for the participatory forest management<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives [PFMCs].<br />

Last year, Tree Aid organised training on co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

management for 63 PFMC leaders<br />

and attendees from local government, to grow<br />

understanding of their forest management roles,<br />

rights, and responsibilities, as well as other<br />

skills such as financial management, auditing<br />

and marketing.<br />

“The importance of [frankincense] trees in our<br />

area is tremendous,” says Derese. “For pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

involved in tapping and collecting frankincense,<br />

it has become a major cash source.”<br />

Derese, who lives in the Metema region,<br />

relies on farming to make an income, but<br />

unpredictable rain patterns caused by the<br />

climate crisis mean his cr<strong>op</strong>s often fail to<br />

grow; his local frankincense forest provides an<br />

alternative, climate-resilient source of income.<br />

But he also witnessed how a lack of community<br />

awareness about how to sustainably extract the<br />

resin meant the trees were being damaged and<br />

the forest is disappearing.<br />

The work of PFMC has made a powerful<br />

difference: “This activity will have a generational<br />

impact on pe<strong>op</strong>le and the environment,” he says.<br />

“Degradation will be reduced and our ecosystem<br />

will be conserved.”<br />

Tree Aid is also working on the continent’s<br />

Great Green Wall (GGW) initiative, an ambitious<br />

project from the African Union and the UN<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nvention to <strong>Co</strong>mbat Desertification (UNCCD)<br />

to grow a vast belt of trees, vegetation and fertile<br />

land across the drylands of the Sahel in Africa.<br />

The wall was originally envisaged as an<br />

8,000km long, 15km wide band of trees<br />

stretching from Djibouti to Senegal, but has<br />

evolved into a programme promoting water<br />

harvesting techniques, greenery protection and<br />

improving indigenous land use techniques,<br />

aimed at creating a mosaic of green and<br />

productive landscapes across North Africa.<br />

The ongoing goal of the project is to restore<br />

100 million hectares of degraded land, capture<br />

250 million tonnes of carbon dioxide and create<br />

10 million jobs by 2030. Since the project began,<br />

Ethi<strong>op</strong>ia alone has planted 5.5 billion seedlings.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eration is active here, too. “By putting<br />

local communities in the driver’s seat of the<br />

initiative, the GGWI is able to ensure that the<br />

project is tailored to the specific needs of the<br />

region,” said the UNDP, the UN’s devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

agency, last year.<br />

“This approach has already led to the<br />

successful completion of 18% of the Great Green<br />

Wall, the restoration of over 20 million hectares<br />

of land, the creation of 350,000 jobs, the training<br />

of 10 million pe<strong>op</strong>le in sustainable land and<br />

water management practices, and $90 million<br />

generated by project activities.<br />

“The GGW impacts all the SDGs as Africa’s<br />

largest sustainable devel<strong>op</strong>ment initiative.<br />

In a context where the continent has massive<br />

carbon storage potential, the realisation of the<br />

Great Green Wall could influence climate trends<br />

and have a lasting impact on the continent’s<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment trajectory.”<br />

t The Great Green<br />

Wall campaign was<br />

built to halt the<br />

progress of the Sahara<br />

desert, which has<br />

spread by 10% since<br />

1920 and engulfed<br />

entire villages (image:<br />

UNDP)<br />

p Derese standing on<br />

degraded land in his<br />

community (image:<br />

Tree Aid)<br />

JUNE <strong>2023</strong> | 45

Calculating co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

sustainability<br />

By Susan Press<br />

“THE<br />








WHEN<br />




GROUP<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong>erative sector is aiming to meet the<br />

challenges set in 2015 by the UN’s Sustainable<br />

Devel<strong>op</strong>ment Goals (SDGs), a series of 17 global<br />

objectives aimed at addressing social, economic<br />

and environmental challenges.<br />

Right across the board, projects are being<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ed to help align co-<strong>op</strong> policies and<br />

practices with a serious commitment to<br />

sustainable devel<strong>op</strong>ment. In the insurance and<br />

housing sectors, this is taking the form of two new<br />

tools to help businesses monitor their activities<br />

and make decisions.<br />

The Insurance SDG Calculator<br />

October last year saw the launch of the Insurance<br />

SDG Calculator at the centenary conference of the<br />

International <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative and Mutual Insurance<br />

Federation (Icmif), held in Rome.<br />

Devel<strong>op</strong>ed by Icmif in partnership with the<br />

Swiss Re Institute, it measures sustainability<br />

impact within individual company insurance<br />

portfolios and business <strong>op</strong>erations. The Icmif<br />

“commitment framework” enables mutuals and<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives to assess their own impact against<br />

a set of indicators reflecting mutual values and<br />

strategic areas, such as risk prevention, protection<br />

and micro-insurance, which offers insurance to<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le on lower incomes.<br />

The iSDG calculator also supports Icmif’s<br />

corporate and sustainability strategy by<br />

making a tangible measure for their efforts<br />

available to members while identifying key<br />

areas for devel<strong>op</strong>ment. Icmif members using<br />

the tool are able to measure their impact against<br />

49 insurance-relevant SDG indicators (“iSDGs”)<br />

and easily measure and track their progress<br />

against the indicators, 17 SDGs and their overall<br />

company score.<br />

Once a scoring exercise is completed by<br />

a member and <strong>op</strong>portunities for potential<br />

improvement are identified, members can then<br />

leverage the Icmif network to share best practice<br />

and further devel<strong>op</strong> their own SDG strategies<br />

whilst working towards a sustainable future.<br />

The Icmif-calibrated Insurance SDG Calculator<br />

has been co-created and tested by and with Icmif<br />

members to ensure it takes into account the<br />

mutual difference, such as highlighting the way in<br />

which mutuals and co-<strong>op</strong>eratives place the needs<br />

of their employees and members/policyholders<br />

first. The calculator is seen as a first step towards<br />

measuring members’ insurance sustainability<br />

impact and continuing to grow the strength of the<br />

sector in the global insurance community.<br />

“It is the first model to measure the SDGs and<br />

is a pioneering impact measurement tool for<br />

underwriting that can future-proof insurance<br />

businesses,” says Icmif chief executive, Shaun<br />

Tarbuck. “Not only that, if embedded into<br />

insurers’ underwriting strategies, it will give them<br />

a business advantage that is sustainable and<br />

aligned to the Paris Agreement.”<br />

After it was launched last year, several Icmif<br />

members signed up to implement the tool in<br />

the first quarter of <strong>2023</strong>. “The more members<br />

complete the Icmif-calibrated Insurance SDG<br />

Calculator, the more impact we will collectively<br />

have,” adds Tarbuck.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity-led housing<br />

The Wayshaper toolkit aims to help simplify,<br />

accelerate and support the process when<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ing a community-led housing group<br />

model. It provides a way for groups to explore the<br />

needs and preferences of their members, map out<br />

priorities, explore <strong>op</strong>tions and make decisions.<br />

It was devel<strong>op</strong>ed by the <strong>Co</strong>nfederation of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Housing (CCH), which is now extending<br />

46 | JUNE <strong>2023</strong>

the toolkit to focus more on the SDGs. The new<br />

initiative will also include a ‘calculator’ element.<br />

CCH chief officer Blase Lambert, who led<br />

a worksh<strong>op</strong> on the toolkit at the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Retail<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nference in March, has been a leading player in<br />

the UK co-<strong>op</strong>erative and community-led housing<br />

sector for over 25 years. He is also treasurer<br />

of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Housing International (CHI)<br />

and sectoral representative on the board of the<br />

International <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Alliance (ICA).<br />

“Back in 2019, the ICA created a project for the<br />

sectors to focus on the sustainable devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

goals and how they were applicable to each<br />

individual sector globally,” he says.<br />

“CHI did a piece of work between 2020 and<br />

2021 to devel<strong>op</strong> specific targets, milestones and<br />

narratives around the relevant SDGs for the<br />

housing sector. We very much wanted to make<br />

them the central plank of our annual conference<br />

in both of the last two years and so what we’re<br />

seeking to do is create an additional element of<br />

our Wayshaper product that specifically focuses<br />

on SDGs.”<br />

To this end, a sustainability toolkit is being<br />

designed as an extension of the Wayshaper<br />

resource package to assist members in meeting all<br />

the SDGs for the housing sector, which have been<br />

translated by CHI sector body into milestones,<br />

targets and reporting frameworks.<br />

“Whereas Wayshaper looks at things like legal<br />

issues and governance, what type of homes,<br />

who owns the land, this new product is about<br />

primarily how organisations can meet the SDG<br />

goals,” adds Lambert.<br />

The CCH has a team of pe<strong>op</strong>le currently working<br />

on the toolkit, which Lambert describes as a ‘bolton’<br />

to the Wayshaper, which will be launched in<br />

the run-up to its conference in October.<br />

The toolkit will have three points of focus:<br />

organisation (elements of SDGs about organising<br />

and organisational form, such as gender equality<br />

and broader equality); the built environment<br />

(building fabric, materials and the way in which<br />

pr<strong>op</strong>erties devel<strong>op</strong> waste and waste systems); and<br />

living (how pe<strong>op</strong>le occupy and live in pr<strong>op</strong>erty<br />

and homes that the housing co-<strong>op</strong> has, as well<br />

as how it is structured from an organisational<br />

perspective and how they live as a community).<br />

Each area is linked to a specific SDG goal in line<br />

with work carried out by CHI.<br />

“We feel the three elements encapsulate how<br />

the housing product works with SDGs,” Lambert<br />

says, adding that for the purposes of this toolkit,<br />

the goals have been filtered down to 15.<br />

“There is a calculator element, but the toolkit<br />

is about much more than that. Fundamentally,<br />

it’s like a pack of cards. Each one – i.e. the built<br />

environment – has an <strong>op</strong>tion on it and there is a<br />

QR code linking to a dedicated web page. Each of<br />

the cards has the calculator element relating to it<br />

which shows carbon cost-effectiveness, relative<br />

costs and disruption.<br />

“In the built environment area alone there are<br />

70 <strong>op</strong>tions so it’s very significant. You end up<br />

with a plan for residential pr<strong>op</strong>erties in terms of<br />

what members can afford in line with relevant<br />

priorities. What the toolkit is trying to do is enable<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le to consider all the relevant choices pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

could make.”<br />

The CCH has also launched a retrofits and<br />

sustainability advice service for its membership,<br />

providing advice and guidance for member<br />

housing co-<strong>op</strong>s about upgrading residential<br />

pr<strong>op</strong>erty stock to meet 2030 and 2035 net zero<br />

targets. The first consortium of co-<strong>op</strong>s into the<br />

government’s housing decarbonisation fund has<br />

also just been secured and as the momentum<br />

around sustainability builds significantly,<br />

Lambert is h<strong>op</strong>eful about the future and also<br />

looking forward to following up his sustainability<br />

speech at retail conference with another at <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

<strong>Co</strong>ngress in <strong>June</strong>.<br />

“It’s about sparking interest and <strong>op</strong>ening up<br />

our members and societies to new ideas, whether<br />

it’s about thinking what we say sounds really<br />

interesting or how can we leverage that to our<br />

specific needs. What is important is that everyone<br />

has a forward- looking approach to sustainability.<br />

If we can help trigger that, it would be good. It’s<br />

about how you create change, not just presenting<br />

a series of statistics, it’s so much more about the<br />

journey and how you do this, and how certain<br />

choices impact other choices.”<br />

t Blase Lambert,<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nfederation of<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Housing<br />

CEO<br />

q The Wayshaper<br />

toolkit and above, an<br />

example card<br />

JUNE <strong>2023</strong> | 47

REVIEW<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> experts turn to YouTube to release<br />

film on their alternative economic model<br />

Building a better<br />

economy: a film about<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s, was written<br />

and produced by Tom<br />

Webb from Global<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eration Inc<br />

A new educational film about co-<strong>op</strong>eratives has<br />

been released on YouTube.<br />

Building a better economy: a film about co-<strong>op</strong>s,<br />

which is around 40 minutes long, features input<br />

from academics and co-<strong>op</strong>erators to explore a<br />

central question: can we build a different economy,<br />

designed to meet our basic needs and protect the<br />

ability of the planet to support life, based on the best<br />

of what it means to be human?<br />

After laying out the global challenges of inequality,<br />

exploitation and climate emergency, the film moves<br />

to exploring how the co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement is<br />

The intent of the video was to<br />

stimulate thought among<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative members, leaders<br />

and managers about the<br />

economic and environmental<br />

challenges that lie ahead<br />

offering an alternative to the current system. It draws<br />

on examples of local economies where co-<strong>op</strong>s are<br />

thriving – such as the Basque country’s Mondragon,<br />

home to the world’s largest federation of worker<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s, and the Italian region of Emilia Romagna,<br />

where co-<strong>op</strong>eratives make up 30% of the economy.<br />

A number of Canadian co-<strong>op</strong>s are also profiled,<br />

such as credit union VanCity, Gay Lea Foods, <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erators<br />

insurance, JustUs <strong>Co</strong>ffee <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>, Home<br />

Care Workers’ <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative, <strong>Co</strong>ncordia Food<br />

<strong>Co</strong>alition, and Cliffside <strong>Co</strong>urt Housing <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative,<br />

as examples of the seven co-<strong>op</strong>erative principles in<br />

action. The seventh co-<strong>op</strong>erative principle, expressed<br />

as “concern for sustainable communities”, is<br />

highlighted as a key <strong>op</strong>portunity for the movement to<br />

respond to the environmental challenges facing the<br />

world today.<br />

The film is free for anyone to use, thanks to a<br />

collective funding effort from <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erators, VanCity<br />

Credit Union, Canadian Worker <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Federation, <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Enterprise <strong>Co</strong>uncil for<br />

New Brunswick, Atlantic Central Credit Union and<br />

League Mortgage and Housing, Nova Scotia <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

<strong>Co</strong>uncil, Gay Lea Foods <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative,<br />

the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Housing Federation of Canada,<br />

Newfoundland Federation of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives, and<br />

JustUs <strong>Co</strong>ffee <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative.<br />

Writer and producer of the film, Tom Webb, who<br />

is also president of Global <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eration Inc. and<br />

adjunct professor at the International Centre for <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Management, said the film is designed for<br />

use as an educational tool for co-<strong>op</strong>s.<br />

“The intent of the video was to stimulate thought<br />

among co-<strong>op</strong>erative members, leaders and managers<br />

about the economic and environmental challenges<br />

that lie ahead and what role co-<strong>op</strong>eratives might<br />

play in reshaping an economy that is increasingly<br />

failing both to meet pe<strong>op</strong>le’s needs or protect the<br />

ability of earth to support life.”<br />

Webb h<strong>op</strong>es the film will encourage co-<strong>op</strong> leaders<br />

to discuss ways to grow the co-<strong>op</strong>erative economy,<br />

ensuring that future generations have an economy<br />

which meets their needs and protects life. And he<br />

h<strong>op</strong>es it will help the to “realise we can use co<strong>op</strong>eration<br />

to solve the problems facing humanity”.<br />

“H<strong>op</strong>efully it will also nurture the desire to make<br />

our co-<strong>op</strong>eratives even better and collaborate more<br />

in concrete ways,” he said.<br />

48 | JUNE <strong>2023</strong>

REVIEW<br />

Citizen-led struggle to transform a city<br />

of injustice<br />

Jackson Rising Redux:<br />

Lessons on Building<br />

the Future in the<br />

Present, ed Kali Akuno<br />

and Matt Meyer PM<br />

Press<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eration Jackson, a radical campaign to set up<br />

a Black-led, solidarity-based new municipalism,<br />

was born out of desperate crisis and centuries<br />

of <strong>op</strong>pression in the Mississippi city. But since a<br />

previous book documenting these endeavours –<br />

Jackson Rising (2018), the situation has grown more<br />

urgent: starved of funds by the state government,<br />

the city’s water supply has collapsed.<br />

The underlying strains in the world economy<br />

have also increased, worsened by the pandemic<br />

and sparking a wave of reactionary p<strong>op</strong>ulism<br />

around the world. In his foreword to this book,<br />

Richard D Wolf presents this as the beginning of the<br />

end for capitalism. If that’s the case, it’s important<br />

to attend to what comes next: the co-<strong>op</strong> model, and<br />

efforts towards a new municipalism in cities like<br />

Cleveland, Ohio and Preston, Lancashire have long<br />

been touted as an <strong>op</strong>tion.<br />

Jackson Rising Redux is latest in a series of books<br />

published in the last year or so which make the<br />

case for this co-<strong>op</strong>erative new economy. But with<br />

the poorest state in the USA as its base, and with<br />

the racial injustices that sparked the Black Lives<br />

Matter movement continuing unabated, it states<br />

that case with a singular urgency.<br />

The book gathers academics and activists from<br />

around the world to discuss <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eration Jackson in<br />

a range of contexts – local, international, historical,<br />

political, etc.<br />

It begins with a history of the project by its cofounder<br />

Kali Akuno, who sets out the movement’s<br />

four goals: to place the ownership and control of<br />

the primary means of production in the hands<br />

of the Black working class in Jackson; to build<br />

and advance the devel<strong>op</strong>ment of the ecologically<br />

regenerative forces of production in the city; to<br />

democratically transform the political economy in<br />

the city and the wider south-eastern region; and to<br />

advance the Jackson-Kush Plan.<br />

This was a radical movement formulated<br />

in the 2000s, with the goal of attaining selfdetermination<br />

for pe<strong>op</strong>le of African descent and<br />

the radical, democratic transformation of the state<br />

of Mississippi.<br />

It’s a wide-ranging project, taking in the push for<br />

net zero, food sovereignty, green worker co-<strong>op</strong>s,<br />

mutual aid and sustainable communities. A tall order.<br />

Founder member, activist Sacajawea ‘Saki’ Hall, says<br />

This is a fascinating book, an<br />

inspiring set of perspectives<br />

on a community fighting to<br />

organise itself after being<br />

pushed beyond the limit<br />

the work is “filled with complexities, successes,<br />

failures, and everything in between”, as the fledgling<br />

movement struggled to mobilise support in the city’s<br />

p<strong>op</strong>ulation and clashed with the city government –<br />

led by Baba Chokwe Lumumba, son of the founder of<br />

the Jackson-Kush plan.<br />

But she also points to achievements, such as<br />

an autonomous Pe<strong>op</strong>le’s Assembly which led to<br />

housing justice work, rent relief, an eviction hotline<br />

and rental assistance fairs. “We see in our everyday<br />

work that everyday working-class Black pe<strong>op</strong>le in<br />

Jackson are ready to engage with and be introduced<br />

to radical ideas,“ she adds.<br />

Hall also contributes a moving personal piece –<br />

setting out her ‘Beautiful Struggle’ in blend of verse<br />

and memories; this varied collection also includes<br />

a history of US Black co-<strong>op</strong>erativism by Jessica<br />

Gordon Nembhardt, a look at a radical movement<br />

by marginalised pe<strong>op</strong>le in Atlanta, Georgia by<br />

Yolanda M.S. Tomlinson, and a short discussion<br />

of the Preston model, Brexit and the British left by<br />

Daniel Brown.<br />

This is a fascinating book, an inspiring set of<br />

perspectives on a community fighting to organise<br />

itself after being pushed beyond the limit.<br />

There are already accomplishments – the Lawn<br />

Care <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative is becoming self-sustaining, and<br />

the Freedom Farms <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative has weathered a<br />

bad winter to supply food to co-<strong>op</strong>s, markets and<br />

restaurants in the city; the <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Production<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative is carrying out training; and the<br />

Fannie Lou Hamer <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Land Trust has<br />

more than 40 parcels of land. H<strong>op</strong>efully the next<br />

book on Jackson Rising will present further stories<br />

of progress.<br />

JUNE <strong>2023</strong> | 49

DIARY<br />

Do you have a co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

event – taking place in person,<br />

online, or as a hybrid – to be<br />

featured?<br />

Tell us at: events@thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />

Social Economy <strong>2023</strong> Building a stronger<br />

and resilient Eur<strong>op</strong>e<br />

7-9 <strong>June</strong> (Gothenburg, Sweden)<br />

Eur<strong>op</strong>ean social economy actors, including<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s, will gather in Gothenburg this <strong>June</strong><br />

to discuss the Social Economy Action Plan<br />

and its implementation. This conference<br />

is co-organised by the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean<br />

confederation of industrial and service<br />

co<strong>op</strong>eratives (Cec<strong>op</strong>), Swedish co-<strong>op</strong> apex<br />

<strong>Co</strong>ompanion, Social Economy Eur<strong>op</strong>e,<br />

and the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean network promoting<br />

partnerships between cities/regions and<br />

the social and solidarity economy (Reves).<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>Co</strong>ngress<br />

16-17 <strong>June</strong> (Manchester, UK)<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>Co</strong>ngress brings together those<br />

working to build a fairer economy to share<br />

ideas, get inspiration and take action.<br />

uk.co<strong>op</strong>/congress<br />

International Day of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

1 July<br />

This year’s International Day of<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives will highlight the role the<br />

movement can play in speeding progress<br />

on sustainable devel<strong>op</strong>ment.<br />

Plunkett Foundation Facing the Future<br />

Together<br />

6 July (Birmingham, UK)<br />

A programme of high profile speakers,<br />

interactive worksh<strong>op</strong>s and one-to-one<br />

advice surgeries covering t<strong>op</strong>ics relevant<br />

to community businesses in the UK.<br />

plunkett.co.uk/facing-thefuture-together<br />

ICA CCR Global and Eur<strong>op</strong>ean <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Research <strong>Co</strong>nference<br />

10-13 July (Leuven, Belgium)<br />

The overall theme of the <strong>2023</strong> conference<br />

is ‘Governing co<strong>op</strong>erative innovation’ and<br />

will bring together academia, researchers,<br />

and co-<strong>op</strong>erative practitioners from all<br />

over the world, as well as policy-makers<br />

at the EU and international level, to<br />

discuss the latest research and policy<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ments in the area of co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

governance. The event is hosted by<br />

the Centre of Expertise for <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Entrepreneurship (KCO KU Leuven), a<br />

research and teaching centre.<br />

info@icaccr<strong>2023</strong>.com<br />

<strong>2023</strong> World Credit Union <strong>Co</strong>nference<br />

23-26 July (Vancouver, Canada)<br />

The premier global credit union education<br />

and networking event offered by the<br />

financial services industry is returning to<br />

Canada. Organised by the World <strong>Co</strong>uncil<br />

of Credit Unions and the Canadian Credit<br />

Union Association, the event will hear<br />

from global industry experts on a variety<br />

of t<strong>op</strong>ics. The extensive educational<br />

program includes 32 concurring breakout<br />

sessions, worksh<strong>op</strong>s, keynote sessions<br />

and a Solution Center geared towards<br />

solving today’s challenges.<br />

Wcuc.org<br />

Celebrating 20 years of Saint Mary’s<br />

International Centre for <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Management<br />

21-22 September (Halifax/Kjipuktuk,<br />

Canada)<br />

Building on 20 years of co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

education and research excellence, the<br />

event aims to celebrate ICCM’s collective<br />

work and amplify its potential for a<br />

stronger future.<br />

conta.cc/3Ethcbc<br />

Global Innovation <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> Summit<br />

27-29 September (Montreal, Canada)<br />

Themed Act Now to lead a circular and<br />

digital future the co<strong>op</strong>erators’ way, the<br />

Montreal event will focus on taking the<br />

lessons from Paris and turning them into<br />

action.<br />

globalinnovation.co<strong>op</strong>/montreal-<strong>2023</strong><br />

Practitioners Forum<br />

23 November (Manchester, UK)<br />

One of the leading training and<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment event for pe<strong>op</strong>le working<br />

in co-<strong>op</strong>erative businesses – big and<br />

small – Practitioners Forum is an annual<br />

sell-out. It hosts around 20 sessions<br />

across five specialist forums covering<br />

membership, governance, finance, HR<br />

and communications.<br />

Details TBC<br />

50 | JUNE <strong>2023</strong>

Celebrating 20 years of<br />

education and research<br />

by, for and about co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

Online part-time graduate programs Short courses<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> study tours Credit union leadership program<br />

Working papers and case studies Symposia<br />





This break includes an<br />

automatic donation to our<br />

charity partner, Go Beyond,<br />

plus we plant a tree for<br />

every passenger who<br />

travels with us<br />

via Ecologi.<br />



12 night tour<br />

(+ 1 night travel) from<br />

£3,284<br />

per person *<br />

Book with only<br />

£59 per person<br />

deposit<br />



This is a truly unique lifetime adventure blending the spectacular<br />

geography of Ecuador’s mainland with the enchanting Galapagos Islands.<br />


Return flights &<br />

accommodation<br />

English-speaking trip<br />

leader & local guides<br />

12 breakfasts, 6<br />

lunches & 1 dinner<br />

A wide range of<br />

activities & transfers<br />


*T&Cs apply. Prices correct as of 27/04/<strong>2023</strong>, subject to change and availability. Price based on 3rd March 2024 from London Heathrow. Based on 2 adults sharing. Flights are indirect via Madrid, other flight <strong>op</strong>tions<br />

available at a supplement. Minimum child age 8 years+. Provided by <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Holidays, ATOL protected 11121. All imagery is for illustration purposes only. Go Beyond Charity is a <strong>Co</strong>mpany registered in England and Wales

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