New ICA guides on sustainability reporting and promoting co-ops

By Rebecca Harvey

The International Co-operative Alliance has published two new guides for co-ops, on reporting on co-operative sustainability and advocating for co-ops.

Created in partnership with think tank Mutuo, the Global Policy and Advocacy Guide is designed for the Alliance and its members to strengthen their advocacy efforts.

Drawing together case studies of good practice from different regions, the guide suggests a range of approaches to organising and communicating information, which can help to develop a consistent global approach to this work.

“Co-operatives are important to the people they serve, but they are also a crucial pillar to economy and society,” said Alliance president Ariel Guarco, introducing the guide.

“Many countries recognise their contribution to the stability and wellbeing of economies, but, as we identify, there are places where there is insufficient or no legislation in place to enable co-operatives to flourish.”

Mr Guarco highlighted how, in serving and being governed by their members, co-operatives are “well placed to help solve many of the world’s pressing socio-economic problems”.

The toolkit warns that the movement can lose sight of the bigger picture of why co-operatives are important and what they can achieve. It recommends using the World Co-operative Monitor template to produce similar statistics at national levels to make the case for the co-operative sector.

Another tip given in the guide is that co-operatives doing advocacy work should try to align their sector objectives with those of decision makers – rather than leading the conversation with the issues they wish to see delivered.

The Global Policy and Advocacy Guide is available to Alliance members on request to Rodrigo Gouveia, director of policy at gouveia@ica.coop.

The Alliance’s updated Sustainability Reporting for Co-operatives: A Guidebook, builds on the organisation’s reports on the Sustainability Scan and Co-operative Growth for the 21st Century.

It also includes the feedback of primary co-operatives around the world from its Sustainability Advisory Group, and is aimed at co-ops that are new to reporting on co-operative sustainability, as well as those looking to take their reporting one step further.

While a number of co-operatives have led in the development and deployment of sustainability reporting, in general co-operatives lag behind, as was found when the top 50 of the largest 300 co-operatives were compared to the top 50 Fortune 500 IOCs.

“The Co-operative Values and Principles codify a particular concept of community wealth and prosperity – one that has recognised economic, social, and environmental criteria in symbiosis long before the coining of ‘the triple-bottom-line’,” says the guide.

“It is a story that needs to be told and sustainability reporting can contribute to telling that story.”

 

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