Sustainable development policy

The Co-op seeks to deliver value to its stakeholders in an ecologically sustainable and socially responsible manner.

The Co-op recognises the need to manage and develop its businesses in a sustainable manner, ie, business development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

We will seek to be transparent and accountable in our pursuit of sustainable development: reporting on progress (or the lack of it), securing independent verification and setting clear priorities and targets for all material activities.

We recognise that there are physical limits to the resources of the Earth (both in terms of generating materials and absorbing wastes), and that any business activity that exceeds these limits is, by definition, unsustainable in the long term and will need to be reconstituted. Nature cannot withstand a progressive build-up of waste derived from the Earth’s crust, nor can it withstand a progressive build-up of society’s waste, particularly substances that cannot degrade into harmless materials. In addition, the productive area of Nature should not be diminished in terms of quality (diversity) or quantity (volume) and must be enabled to grow. These we recognise as the minimum conditions for ecological sustainability.

There are ethical components of sustainable development for which business should be accountable. These extend far beyond legislative compliance. Unlike for ecological sustainability, there exists much less consensus as to what constitutes socially responsible business practice.

Therefore, when considering such matters, the Co-op will undertake stakeholder dialogue and be guided by the views arising, particularly those of members and customers, given their vital roles in governance and economic viability, respectively. More broadly, the Co-op will be guided by the long-established co-operative values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity, along with the pursuit of legislative compliance.