NFGWS in final three for the European Award for Co-operative Innovation

The NFGWS is extremely proud to be shortlisted for the European Award for Co-operative Innovation, under the category ‘Environmental Value Creation,’ thanks to the ongoing drinking water source protection pilot project taking place across Counties Roscommon, Westmeath and Monaghan.

Three co-operatives are shortlisted in each category, with the Federation among four Irish co-ops to be shortlisted overall. Organised by Cogeca (the General Confederation of Agricultural Co-operatives), the awards recognise sustainability-driven innovation in the agri-food, fishery and forestry sectors.

The drinking water source protection pilot project has the ethos of the co-operative movement at its heart, not only when it comes to its measurable outcomes but also in terms of how everyone in the local community has a role to play.

Its recognition is a credit to all those who have been involved in the project to date. The hard work of the boards and members of group water schemes, local county councils and all other stakeholders has been integral to the project’s continued success.

The project itself links the protection of water, biodiversity and climate action with the health and well-being of communities across rural Ireland. Some of the standout results to date include:

  • Nationwide catchment delineation for group water schemes.
  • The publication of ‘A Framework for Drinking Water Source Protection’ and ‘A Handbook of Source Protection and Mitigation Actions for Farming’.
  • Farmers are beginning to embrace weed-wiping in efforts to reduce the use of pesticides.
  • The ‘Let It Bee’ initiative in Co. Roscommon, has seen the provision of beehives to six farming families and has won the European Bee Award 2020.
  • Various education and awareness initiatives have captured public imagination.
  • Over 4,000 primary school children in Co. Roscommon are being given a tree to plant at home.
  • Training materials and handbooks have been developed for group water scheme managers, educators, consulting engineers and scientists to help them implement source protection measures and pollinator plans.

Further details on these and other aspects of the project can be found across our website.

Reacting to the announcement, Barry Deane, CEO of the National Federation of Group Water Schemes, said:

We’re absolutely delighted that we have been shortlisted for the European Award for Co-operative Innovation. To hear we have made the final three in our category is fantastic news and credit goes to the local communities involved in the drinking water source protection pilot project for their continued hard work and enthusiasm.

Thank you to the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) for their endorsement and continued guidance, and congratulations to the three other Irish co-operatives who have also been shortlisted in their respective categories.

More information about the awards is available on their website here.