By Nick Crofts, CEO of Co-op Foundation

When we announced the launch of the Carbon Innovation Fund just after COP26 last year, we had little idea what applications would look like.

Our £3m fund was the largest partnership of its kind between Co-op and its charity, the Co-op Foundation, but it was also a significant step change for the Foundation into multi-million-pound climate change support.

Just over six months later and I’m excited to announce that our partnership has now awarded the first £1.3m of grants to 14 projects across the globe to reduce carbon emissions in the food and farming sector.

We’ve supported everything from rain and fog harvesting technology in the Galapagos as a greener alternative, to freshwater delivery via tanker, to the development of five net zero farms through Co-op donations from the sale of compostable carrier bags and the Foundation’s own funds.

Thank you to everyone who’s supported this work so far and good luck to our brilliant new partners. Colleagues can read the full list of partners and share our Social Hub post to spread the word.

Climate commitments

There’s no doubt that the world needs to work together to tackle climate change. This is why Co-op has committed to becoming a Net Zero business by 2040 and has a 10-point climate plan in place to lower carbon emissions.

Here at the Foundation, we’re also holding ourselves accountable by signing the Association of Charitable Foundation’s Funder Commitment on Climate Change (FCCC) and listening to young people’s views on environment and sustainability as part of its new strategy development.

Tackling climate change is also about fairness. Research shows the global south tends to be more badly struck by the effects of climate change through increasingly unliveable temperatures. Through reducing carbon emissions, we’re helping to build fairer and more co-operative communities and delivering on Co-op’s vision of ‘Co-operating for a Fairer World’.

New partners

Our new partners are spread across the globe and from Santa Cruz Island to Cornwall, they’re changing the world.

Successful partners were chosen from over 230 applications reviewed by Co-op and Foundation colleagues, alongside environmental experts. Together we focused on those projects that prioritised innovation in the food, farming and aquaculture sectors. Projects funded include:

  • Cornwall-based Fal Fishery that will increase production of oyster larvae at it’s hatchery. It’ll also collect data to create an evidence base they hope will result in increasing the minimum landing size of native oysters, allowing them to mature properly, take in more carbon and reproduce. They’re also reducing oysters going to waste in the food industry by preserving and canning them to extend shelf life
  • South West Mull and Iona Development  are “kelping” the environment through doubling it’s harvest of kelp. Their kelp will be used to reduce the methane emissions of cattle when integrated into their feed, help to develop bio-degradable plastics and reduce the need for mineral synthesis in fertilizers
  • The Fairtrade Foundation in Mbarara and Masaka that will revolutionise the daily grind in Uganda through scaling-up the production of briquettes (used as fuel for cookstoves) made from on-farm waste, including coffee husks

What’s next?

We’re proud to partner with Co-op on the Carbon Innovation Fund.

It’s the largest partnership we’ve entered into together and it means Co-op’s compostable carrier bags are having double the impact to make our world more sustainable. Funding together also means Co-op Member donations to the Foundation go even further.

Keep up to date with how our new partners are getting on by subscribing to the Co-op Foundation blog or following us on Twitter.

You can also share this social hub post to spread the word of this brilliant new Fund.