Sustainability is among the five strategic areas in the Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade. Along with Participation, it is one of the differentiators of the co-operative model of enterprise, a competitive advantage. The co-operative model, through its rootedness in the community and its democratic decision-making structure, inclines toward sustainability. It is inherently the most sustainable form of business. We believe this to be true … but can we prove it?
That is the purpose of the sustainability scan that the International Co-operative Alliance has commissioned from the Sustainability Solutions Group (SSG), a Canadian-based worker co-operative and a leading consultancy in sustainability. SSG has assembled a global team to undertake a high-level scan of sustainability practices in co-operatives around the world. They will present their preliminary findings at an interactive session at our World Conference in Cape Town, South Africa, 2–5 November 2013.
In order to test the field, to get an overview of co-operative practices, SSG will conduct a ‘discourse analysis’, using specialized software to analyze web sites and key documents in various languages and from diverse regions. This is intended to identify trends and themes in how co-operatives understand ‘sustainability’ and how they implement their agenda in this space.
This analysis will be complemented with a crowdsourcing platform, to enable co-operatives to describe their own work; and with a review of case studies and existing literature.
This work is necessarily high-level and not exhaustive, designed to provide us with a general sense of the current state of sustainability in the co-operative sector, and of promising practices. It is an essential foundational initiative in this first year following the Blueprint’s adoption, and will shape the strategies we adopt in the next phase of implementation. I hope you will follow this work and that you can join us in Cape Town to participate in its presentation and feedback.