Cooperative sustainability

Cooperatives have always endeavoured to enable people to have access to goods and services without exploitation – to realise their needs and aspirations. This has led them to pursue a convergence between economic, social, and environmental interests – building triple bottom line sustainability.

Cooperative sustainability in action

The International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) is pursuing a variety of initiatives which facilitate the achievement of the Blueprint goals:

  • The ICA has released in March 2016 its "Sustainability Reporting for Cooperatives: A Guidebook”. This tool is one that any cooperative – large or small, in any sector, across the world – can pick up and use right away!
  • The ICA is playing a crucial role in informing how the United Nations Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda will achieve its goals. In close partnership with its members, UN agencies, and other like-minded actors, the ICA is advancing co-operatives as a ‘means of implementation’ – an ideal tool and vehicle – by which to secure the achievement of sustainable development.
  • The ICA launched in 2016 its Coops for 2030 platform ( This global campaign unites and engages cooperatives in the SDG implementation process. A dedicated team managing the project teaches cooperatives through its web site about the SDGs and collects pledges by cooperatives to achieve them. Nearly 100 pledges were received in September 2016.

  • The ICA's 2013 Sustainability Scan takes a deeper look into the relationship between co-operatives and sustainability. The standard-setting report concludes that cooperatives have sustainability in their DNA. Read about how co-operatives around the globe are living up to their commitment to sustainability!
  • The thought leadership paper on Cooperative Growth for the 21st Century aims to respond to the flagrant inadequacies of GDP to measure growth in a meaningful. The paper explores a cooperative perspective on the growth vs. de-growth debate and makes concrete recommendations on how cooperatives might better capture their full impact.
  • The ICA is strengthening its role in facilitating cooperative-to-cooperative trade. The ICA's 2016 "Doing Cooperative Business" report  evaluates the enabling environment for cooperatives in countries around the world. 
  • The ICA's Sustainability Advisory Group guides the Alliance in the assessment and potential development of concrete tools and measurements relating to co-operative sustainability.

Read about cooperative sustainability in action

Tell us your story about cooperative sustainability

Other initiatives on cooperatives and sustainability

Corporate Knights is a watchdog of corporate behaviour. Over the years, they have found that cooperatives lead – and excel by significant margins – in the achievement of sustainable business practices. Check out their rankings!