Mexican Cooperatives in the Fight against Energy Poverty

Mexico is a diverse country in all aspects: natural resources, production and, of course, its people. However, social disparities are a major problem as almost half of the Mexican population (52.4 million people) lives in poverty and has, according to the National Council of Evaluation, less than $1.5 a day to live on. This implies a series of systematic, social and economic shortcomings that prevent the satisfaction of this population´s basic needs.

One cause of structural poverty is the limited access to basic livelihood services, especially access to energy. Almost one quarter of the urban population suffers from energy poverty, constraining services such as illumination, water heating, food cooking, refrigerating, and heating. Such lack of conditions reduces the opportunity of human and sustainable development and makes it increasingly difficult for already vulnerable groups to improve their quality of life.

In fact, energy poverty in Mexican reality is a crucial factor significantly increasing societal inequality. It is usually agreed that only through cooperation between Mexican government, civil society and international organizations, the structural energy poverty, especially affecting the most vulnerable populations groups, can be mastered.

Clean Energy Production at Community Level

Understanding this, DGRV supports the local creation of clean and renewable energies cooperatives at community level. By working as cooperatively organized self-help organizations, the people become capable of generating their own renewable energy. Thus they can improve their living conditions by themselves. These objectives are established in the charter of DGRV´s new project PEW-LA: Participation, Energy and Welfare within Cooperatives in Latin America.

Although the cooperative organized way of energy production at community level is still new in Mexico and not yet popular, it becomes more and more an important issue. It unites the interests of various actors such as government and civil society and their intention to achieve energy sovereignty for the Mexican people.

In this regard, DGRV Mexico is also cooperating with GIZ – Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit and the National Institute of Social Economy (INAES). Here, DGRV participates as institutional leader in the promotion of business models of community clean energy. In addition, it is intended to establish a multi-actor platform to share and exchange knowledge and experiences, and to support the communities and organized groups to develop community energy projects.

The first step of the project was the implementation of a manual for the formation of renewable energy cooperatives (especially photovoltaic) in order to create a unified and specialized consultancy tool for the interested actors. Subsequently, DGRV will support the development of technical capacities to enforce the actions of social economy on energy. Potential partners have already been identified, for example the cooperative “Tosepan” with its desire to establish an energy cooperative in Cuetzalan Puebla.

Savings and Loan Cooperatives as Promoters of Environmental Protection

DGRV in Mexico is also developing a model for sustainable finances in the cooperative sector and promotes the commitment of credit cooperatives in Mexico to environmental protection.

It is expected that financial products and services will facilitate access to renewable energy for the most vulnerable groups. To this end, DGRV, in collaboration with the Mexican Confederation of Savings and Credit Cooperatives (CONCAMEX), is conducting a diagnosis of needs and existing green and sustainable products in order to generate coordinated lines on sustainable issues in the cooperative financial sector in Mexico.

DGRV Activities in Mexico Contribute to the 2030 Agenda

Finally, the cooperation of DGRV in Mexico in this relevant topic seeks to have a positive impact regarding the quality of life of small communities, promoting sustainable development and especially contributing to the SDG 7 objective of the 2030 Agenda: Realizing affordable and clean energy.

In this context, cooperatives contribute significantly to the fight against energy poverty and enable the satisfaction of basic needs of the most vulnerable population in a country with a high level of economic and social inequality.

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