Co-operatives: builders of 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 co-operatives to pursue a convergence between economic, social, and environmental interests – building triple bottom line sustainability. 

Co-operative sustainability in action

The Alliance is pursuing a variety of initiatives which facilitate the achievement of the Blueprint goals:

  • The guidebook "Sustainability Reporting for Co-operatives: A Guidebook” released March 2016, is a guide to explore sustainability tools and see how you can take your reporting one step further
  • The Alliance is a member of the UN Global Compact, which has released in 2016 the SDG Compass, a key resource for any party interested in sustainability. Find out all about the Compass at
  • The Alliance's Sustainability Scan, released in 2013, takes a deeper look into the relationship between co-operatives and sustainability concluding 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 need to measure growth in a sustainable way. 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 global digital database of co-operative stories hosts a wealth of information on
    co-operatives in various forms: written, audio, and video. Search for stories on co-operative sustainability at!
  • The Sustainability Advisory Group is guiding the Alliance in the assessment and potential development of concrete tools and measurements building on the results and recommendations of the Scan and Growth paper. The members are:
    • Unimed do Brasil - Confederação Nacional das Cooperativas Médicas (Brazil)
    • Vancity (Canada)
    • Banca Etica (Italy)
    • Legacoop Abitanti (Italy)
    • Seikatsu Club Consumer Co-op Federation (Japan)
    • CIC Group (Kenya)
    • iCOOP Korea (Korea)
    • Organic Valley (USA)
  • 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.

Stay tuned! We are exploring ways by which the Alliance can strengthen its role in facilitating cooperative-to-cooperative trade.

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!

Read about co-operative sustainability in action


Signature by the Chair of the ICA Youth Network, Sebastien Chaillou, the Executive Director of Cooperative and Mutuals Canada, Denyse Guy and the Director General of the ICA, Bruno Roelants.
13 Nov 2018

There is no future without youth. The International Co-…

29 Oct 2018

Yesterday, 20 cooperatives and cooperative groups…