Cooperative Digital Infrastructure Manifesto


On Wednesday, April 5, 2023, during the Platform Cooperatives community assembly on “Recent Developments in Data Collectives, Data Commons, and Peer Production Licenses”, the idea came up to compose a manifesto and open letter to the leadership of cooperative networks calling for support. The Data Commons Cooperative (DCC) created a Loomio thread (requires a free Loomio login to join the group) for discussion and invited all those attending the assembly and interested followers of the Data Commons to participate. Trebor Scholz of Platform Cooperativism Consortium wrote the first draft, which underwent extensive revision with input from Data Commons Cooperative, ChiCommons LWCA, Waag Futurelab, and several others. 

This published manifesto / open letter is intended as an invitation to work together on co-creating the policies and structures that will support digital tools for cooperativism. We hope that many more groups and people will join us to envision and call forth the digital world we need and deserve!

We recognize the nature of getting consensus on a critical document such as this.  We offer this draft as an early call to action and hope that you and/or your cooperative can sign on in good faith.  We view this as a living manifesto and commit to developing an updated version 2.0 when more folks support the effort.

We plan on delivering this Manifesto to Mr. Ariel Guarco, President of the International Cooperative Alliance during the first week of November. Please sign onto the Manifesto by October 31, 2023.

Please review the Manifesto, discuss it in your cooperative or organization, and sign it as a federation/consortium/apex body, a cooperative, or an individual.

The Manifesto

Open Letter on the topic of Cooperative Digital Infrastructure to Ariel Guarco, President of the International Cooperative Alliance

We are a group of cooperators interested in the development of digital platforms and structures that support cooperation.

In the current digital landscape, large tech companies dominate the collection, processing, and selling of user data. As we write this, large tech companies are already approaching farmers from upstate New York to Gujarat and dominate most major e-commerce platforms, ride-hailing services, energy-sharing platforms, and delivery services, to mention a few. 

While new cooperatives emerge globally in many fields, such as energy, mobility, agriculture, and health, many face a choice: make use of digital centralised platforms or set their own standards to develop cooperative solutions. 

Sharing solutions amongst cooperators ultimately saves resources, time, and money, but the initial set-up of shareable code and data takes greater resources, challenging co-op initiatives even more. 

To counter this, we urge ICA and cooperative apex organizations to call for global cooperative digital infrastructures and strengthen cooperative principles in the digital economy.  

It’s our honor to present some ideas for this purpose:

  1. Encourage standardization and interoperability, focusing on cooperative and citizen needs, (collective) consent, and democratic open (API) structures, within the cooperative economy and its various sectors.
  2. Call for and support open-source and source-available tech development, based on open standards, to ensure standardization doesn’t pave the way only for commercial platforms. 
  3. Promote solutions that are FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable).
  4. Create knowledge and support hub(s) that educate cooperators and developers on these issues, and that cooperatives can turn to for finding open-source solutions and asking questions concerning the use of them. 
  5. Call upon (local) governments for support: invest a percentage of innovation budgets in the cooperative digital commons, support cooperative start-ups, and make policies that favor platform cooperatives.

This approach requires thoughtful, democratic, and powerful motivation from cooperative apex bodies such as the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) and support for and coordination among grassroots efforts.

The task is complex, but we must all act quickly together to avoid losing a great opportunity for the cooperative movement we all love.

We, the undersigned, pledge to work together in the spirit of Principle Six to coordinate our efforts to build cooperative digital tools, platforms, standards, and agreements.

— Platform Cooperativism Consortium, Data Commons Cooperative, ChiCommons LWCA, Waag Futurelab


Federations, Consortiums, and Apex Bodies


Cooperatives, Solidarity Entities, and Associated Organizations

Data Commons Cooperative

ChiCommons LWCA

CoLab Cooperative


Steve Ediger

Noemi Giszpenc

William Morrisett

Emmy Andersson

LA Simons

Jorge Benet

George Fletcher

Jon Richter

Marcelo Cohen

Brad Sheridan

David Ferris

Chris Fourie

Cooperative Digital Infrastructure Manifesto Signature Page