The webinar was organized on the eve of the International Day of Cooperatives (IDC), on 3 July 2020, as the third edition in a series of webinars around the Centenary of the ILO’s Cooperatives Unit.
In line with the theme of the IDC 2020, Cooperatives for Climate Action, the webinar aimed at sharing experiences of cooperatives in climate mitigation and adaptation and discussing how to tap into their full potential in building greener, more resilient and more sustainable economies. It brought together over 140 participants from around the world.
Moderated by Vic Van Vuuren, Director of ILO’s Enterprises Department, the webinar started with a video from ILO on the topic. The video was followed by presentations by the following speakers.
- Sonia Dias, Waste Specialist, Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO), Brazil
- Dirk Vansintjan, President, REScoop.eu, Europe
- Noel D. Raboy, President and CEO, CLIMBS Life and General Insurance Cooperative, Philippines
- Moustapha Kamal Gueye, Manager, Green Jobs Programme, ILO
Ms. Dias presented on the contributions of informal economy waste pickers as key to recycling urban waste. She provided examples of how cooperatives of waste pickers improve their livelihoods and working conditions and provide access to essential services. She also highlighted findings from a recent study by WIEGO on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on waste pickers in Brazil, based on data from 150 cooperatives in 21 states. The survey found out that cooperatives have mobilized quickly to protect their members, and joined forces with municipalities, states, the private sector, and NGOs to support them with protective equipment, food and cash assistance. She emphasized the importance of recognizing waste pickers as essential workers and integrating them into formal waste management chains in building back from COVID-19. Her presentation is available here. Her contribution to ILO Blog on the topic is also here.
Mr. Vansintjan reflected on the emergence of citizen’s renewable energy projects in Europe and the role of REScoop.eu as a federation of around 1,500 renewable energy cooperatives representing over one million citizens. He highlighted the importance of an enabling legal framework and some good examples such as the Scottish Government's Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) and the revision of EU directives as part of the “Clean energy for all Europeans” package. He also suggested that the cooperative model can be suitable in mobilizing citizens and local resources and creating sustainable employment and income opportunities in local communities. Here is the link to his presentation.
Mr. Raboy shared the efforts of CLIMBS in providing climate risk related insurance, highlighting challenges and lessons learned in the initial phases and ways forward. He also introduced other initiatives by CLIMBS in building resilience and sustainability at the local level, from capacity building on financial literacy and business continuity planning to community development projects using three per cent of the total net surplus (e.g. water distribution, well construction, mangrove tree planting). His presentation is available here.
Finally, Mr. Gueye presented highlights from the ILO’s work in creating green job opportunities through the cooperative model, particularly an initiative to organize waste pickers in a dump site in Senegal into a cooperative that improves their livelihoods and working conditions. A survey and a workshop with key stakeholders revealed that waste pickers are grouped according to different waste streams and that there is a need for a more detailed analysis of waste supply chains to design interventions. His presentation is available here.
During the Q&A session, a range of issues were discussed, including on how to balance economic efficiency and ecological sustainability within cooperatives and how to ensure the sustainability and self-reliance of cooperatives emerging in the fight against climate change.
Mr. Van Vuuren, ILO’s Enterprises Department Director, reiterated the potential of cooperatives and other social and solidarity economy (SSE) enterprises in a green recovery and the need for creating an enabling regulatory environment to unleash their potential.