The United Nations recognizes the first Saturday of July as the annual International Day of Cooperatives. It is a time to celebrate the cooperative business model in its many forms as a means of economic, political and social advancement all over the world. The slogan this year is Sustainable Societies through Cooperation and aims to connect cooperative business with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations in 2015. The SDGs are 15 wide sweeping goals to end poverty and inequalities while protecting the environment. The UN makes a good case when it points to cooperation as the best business model for reaching these goals.

A remarkable example of how cooperation can be a means to achieve food stability and gender equality is a recently completed project of the Co-operative Foundation of Canada (CFC) in Northern Ghana. The project shows direct economic benefits for 42,000 individuals, and indirect benefits for 331,800. The figures point to an advantage of the cooperative business model in that local earnings stay in local communities instead of enriching outside stockholders. Through training in agricultural and off-farm activities, the income for men increased 740% and for women 972%. Gender equality is one of the Sustainable Development Goals and is in alignment with the first Cooperative Principle of equality without gender, social, racial, political, or religious discrimination.

Closer to home, Battle River Power Coop respects the same Cooperative Principles as do coops all over the world. To illustrate, we saw the principle Concern for Community highlighted at the recent Annual General Meeting. When we choose to buy locally first and provincially second, we are choosing to support local communities. When we present scholarships to local students, we are supporting education. When we connect microgenerators to the grid and promote energy efficiency we respect the environment.

On this International Day of Cooperatives, we celebrate with the 300 million coops in business all over the world. We share the belief that cooperation creates opportunities for jobs and economic independence, and that the cooperative business model adds value to local communities in which they do business.