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!