Co-operative sustainability

Co-operatives 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.

Co-operative sustainability in action

The International Co-operative Alliance is pursuing a variety of initiatives which facilitate the achievement of the Blueprint goals:

  • 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!
  • The Alliance 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 Alliance is advancing co-operatives as a ‘means of implementation’ – an ideal tool and vehicle – by which to secure the achievement of sustainable development.
  • The Alliance launched in 2016 its Co-ops for 2030 platform ( This global campaign unites and engages co-operatives in the SDG implementation process. A dedicated team managing the project teaches co-operatives through its web site about the SDGs and collects pledges by co-ops to achieve them. Nearly 100 pledges were received in September 2016.

  • The Alliance's 2013 Sustainability Scan takes a deeper look into the relationship between co-operatives and sustainability. The standard-setting report concludes that co-operatives 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 Co-operative Growth for the 21st Century aims to respond to the flagrant inadequacies of GDP to measure growth in a meaningful. The paper explores a co-operative perspective on the growth vs. de-growth debate and makes concrete recommendations on how co-operatives might better capture their full impact.
  • The Alliance is strengthening its role in facilitating co-operative-to-co-operative trade. The Alliance's 2016 "Doing Co-operative Business" report  evaluates the enabling environment for co-operatives in countries around the world. 
  • The Alliance'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 co-operative sustainability in action

Tell us your story about co-operative sustainability

Other initiatives on co-operatives and sustainability

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


13 May 2019

Intercooperation in practice. The ICA President, Ariel…

07 May 2019

The Department of Cooperative Business (DCB) from Fiji…