The conference began with three speeches delivered by those actively working on issues that the Co-op movement needs to be aware of. These issues were, the changing demographics of UK society, the climate emergency and the use of AI. South Birmingham Co-op member Nick gave the AI speech. All three speeches allowed us to think of the future and how society will change by 2040.
We had a break for a cup of tea and a biscuit. Once people had suitably juiced themselves up with caffeine, we took part in a workshop activity. I was asked to lead a group on energy, based on my experiences with Community Energy Birmingham. There were other topics to choose from, including social care and homelessness. On my table we picked topics related to energy and looked at them in detail. The need to reduce energy demand was a key topic that many were keen to delve into. We had two sessions and so each delegate was free to participate in two topics.
Mapping the future
In the afternoon session, we took some of our initial discussions and attempted to develop them into plans for how the Co-op movement could positively impact this issue in 2040. Our energy team went rogue and ignored the earlier energy talks. We chose electric car charging infrastructure, because it is an area that will see great change and is largely unclaimed. In 2035 new petrol and diesel cars will no longer be able to be purchased. This means that we we have to have properly transitioned to electric vehicles, as well as better public transport.
Our group discussed a timeline from 2020 to 2040, where the Co-op movement could take a lead on this by becoming a relatively early adopter. A plan based on community share offers, partnerships with local authorities and market towns, allowed our goal to reach fruition in 2040. By 2040 our timetable stated that the Co-op movement would be one of the leading players in the electric car charging infrastructure markets.
We accept the challenges and opportunities
Co-op futures 20-20 vision conference allowed a group of commited co-operators to investigate how the Co-op movement should best move forward. To deal with the many challenges, including the climate emergency, we have to radically reimagine our society. This conference showed us how some of those challenges could be met with a Co-operative focus.