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Sustainability Reporting for Co-operatives: A Guidebook

26 Apr 2016

The Alliance has released in March 2016 its "Sustainability Reporting for Co-operatives: A Guidebook”. This tool is one that any co-operative – large or small, in any sector, across the world – can pick up and use right away.

It builds on our Sustainability Scan, as well as Co-operative Growth for the 21st Century, and includes the feedback of primary co-operatives around the world from our Sustainability Advisory Group. If you are new to reporting on co-operative sustainability – this Guidebook is for you. If you are familiar with it, but want to explore other tools and see how you can take your reporting one step further – this Guidebook is for you.

At a high level, there are critical challenges facing societies around the world, from inequality to climate change, from biodiversity loss to the provision of health care. Co-operatives need to confirm and advance their efforts to address these challenges, to undertake the leadership assumed by Principle 7 Concern for Community. 

As the Alliance Sustainability Scan demonstrated, there is a strong relationship between Co-operative Principles and the key ideas of sustainable development. Sustainability reporting can therefore provide a mechanism to report on both the adherence to and implementation of the Principles and sustainable development simultaneously.

"The Co-operative Values and Principles codify a particular concept of community wealth and prosperity – one that has recognised economic, social, and environmental criteria in symbiosis long before the coining of ‘the triple-bottom-line.’ It is a story that needs to be told and sustainability reporting can contribute to telling that story,” reads the guidebook.

Sustainability reporting is increasingly a default aspect of management for large corporations. While a number of co-operatives have led in the development and deployment of sustainability reporting, in general co-operatives lag behind, as was found when the top 50 of the largest 300 co-operatives were compared to the top 50 Fortune 500 IOCs. This Guidebook aims to provide the information a co-operative needs to develop and implement a sustainability report. 

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