Steering credit unions toward a greener, more inclusive future

As I sat down to draft this article, our town of Madison, WI, had just broken a heat record set in 1960. News of this record was just after the tragic updates about wildfires in Maui and Southern California’s first tropical storm in 84 years.

A few weeks later, and we are seeing devastating floods in Libya; wildfires followed by floods in Greece; a catastrophic earthquake in Morocco.

In my role at the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, I witness a lot of hardship. With your donations and support, we’re actively working in Ukraine; providing financial lifelines to economic refugees in Southern America; we’re still raising funds for survivors of the Turkish earthquake in February…

I’ve seen a lot. But still, the last month or so was all too sobering, especially given the topic I wanted to share with you: The need for credit unions to adopt more environmentally conscious policies, products, and investment strategies.

You see, these recent disasters aren’t just a stroke of bad luck. They are a visceral reminder of the global crisis of our time—climate change.

I’m not here to argue the facts for or against climate change. That’s not my role. What I can say unequivocally is that in our own country and beyond, it is overwhelmingly the most vulnerable people who are affected.

That is something credit unions everywhere must pay attention to.

As credit union leaders, the continued impact on the most vulnerable among us transcends personal beliefs. Instead, it speaks to the very core of who we are and what we represent: A global cooperative movement, founded to serve the underserved.

That’s precisely why we’ll be supporting a new World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) program: The Climate Influencers Network.

This network will leverage the power of the credit union difference. It’s a platform for inspiration, learning and exchange, where credit unions worldwide can access the tools and support necessary to transition to a low-carbon economy successfully.

I’m excited to see what can be accomplished through this Network as it seeks to:

  • Collate and celebrate the success of credit unions that have already proved the social and business cases for sustainability.
  • Provide practical steps that help make a low-carbon economy possible for your credit union.
  • Provide education and training on ways to develop and offer green products and services, whether that’s lending to finance solar panels and electric vehicles or supporting conservation programs.
  • And perhaps most importantly, partner with communities and governments to champion climate justice. Too many of the world’s most vulnerable pay the highest price when it comes to climate change. That must stop.

One way to support this work is to contribute to our Members Helping Members fundraising campaign. Every penny raised will go directly to programs like the Climate Influencers Network and other credit union efforts to bring financial inclusion to all.

I know climate change is a trigger issue for many, but we need to move past that. That’s focusing on the problem. As credit union leaders, we have an obligation to provide a solution instead.


Contact the author: Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions

Contact the author: Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions

Mike Reuter

Mike Reuter

Mike Reuter is the Executive Director of the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, the 501c3 charitable nonprofit that supports the World Council of Credit Unions in its mission of providing ... Web: Details