COSA is a neutral nonprofit consortium dedicated to helping organizations around the world to understand and accelerate their sustainability, serving the public good. We offer a balanced and rigorous understanding of sustainability through effective measurements and technologies that catalyze impacts in social, economic and environmental dimensions.
Since the early 2000s, COSA has pioneered the global adoption of common science-based metrics, believing that we can advance when organizations, governments and businesses speak a common sustainability “language” of accountability in the same way that we have global Generally Accepted Accounting Practices to understand finance.
COSA research and metrics are used in many countries. We have worked primarily in Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
Our work focuses on agriculture landscapes including coffee, cocoa, cotton, tea, sugar, and foods. We also work to understand specialized topics that affect sustainability such as: co-operatives, resilience, gender, next generation, and impact metrics for enterprises and investments.
COSA has administrative office in Philadelphia, USA. COSA counts on a diverse professional staff who carry out COSA’s work from their bases in seven countries.
COSA is incorporated as a non-profit organization in the USA, at the most secure level: 501(C)3a
COSA’s long-term strategy is guided by a professional and very experienced Board of Directors with diverse public sector and private sector backgrounds in global organizations. COSA’s Advisors and Scientific Committee bring world-class experience in support of COSA staff and their work.
COSA has benefitted from balanced funding with long-term support from diverse public institutions such as the Government of Switzerland, The Ford Foundation and the Inter-American Development Bank as well as private individuals and companies who contribute to the pragmatic applications of COSA’s tools and intelligence systems.
From global brands to research institutions to farmers, COSA tools and technologies facilitate the understanding of sustainability and how to measurably improve it. We help make sense of all the ‘sustainability noise’ with SMART metrics that are comprehensive, science-based, and yet simple to use.
COSA works with individual organizations and their sustainability programs or projects in diverse ways, from simply aligning metrics for global relevance and consistency, to building out full sustainability intelligence systems from concept to analysis and learning.
For more than a decade, COSA has facilitated successful and diverse collaborations to advance sustainability. We bring specialized expertise in guiding multi-stakeholder initiatives to coalesce around platforms for sustainability intelligence.
We have developed and field-tested state-of-the-art metrics in collaboration with more than 60 global partners and hundreds of institutions and experts. COSA metrics are benchmarked to dozens of international norms and accords including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
We use advanced technologies and SMART metrics to evaluate and monitor sustainability initiatives or help organizations to do that using:
- Impact Assessment using both quantitative and qualitative methods
- Performance Monitoring
- Sustainability Intelligence Systems (SIS) for sustainable sourcing
- Collaborative knowledge platforms that align stakeholders
- Landscape-scale initiatives that blend big and small (local) data
COSA indicators and tools were developed with hundreds of institutions and experts worldwide. Their global consistency allows unprecedented levels of learning and accountability in agri-food systems. Insights from COSA data affect millions of farming households that grow foods, coffee, cacao, cotton, and other crops.
Corporations, financial institutions, and government agencies use COSA metrics and technologies to improve services and target smarter investments.
- How we design and use data, including our approach to data architecture, databases, back-end data analysis, and dashboard components aligns fully with the DIAL Principles for Digital Development, Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN), and the Lean Research principles (MIT).
- COSA handles sensitive data for multinationals, governments, and civil society and is diligent about its responsibility with private data. We, therefore, apply stringent data security and privacy protocols to safeguard data and privacy at every stage.
- As a public institution COSA uses data only for the purpose of advancing the science of sustainability or general observations and we only work with data that is scrubbed of identifying characteristics to ensure privacy and confidentiality.
- Our science-based understanding of lessons and best practices helps determine sectoral, national, or global trends that help our clients and partners be much smarter in their decision-making.
COSA survey and analysis methods align with the current scientific understanding of best practice in impact assessment but also introduces some comprehensive innovations in the form of its multi-dimensional indicators and data gathering tools. It gathers data directly from farmers, producer organizations, and communities and employs both quantitative and qualitative approaches. COSA applies rigorous practices to determine representative and relatively unbiased samples including control groups. This is also reflected in survey designs that while consistent can also be adapted to particular needs or situations so as to capture local realities while also balancing the requisite quality with reasonable costs. To reduce error and more faithfully capture the realities of human and agricultural systems COSA prefers to assess multiple observations – not just a single snapshot view. COSA’ s approach is well suited to various forms of multi-criteria analysis and it conducts these in collaboration with local and international scientists to ensure the highest level of credibility and usefulness.
Our team has trained and worked with:
- Government initiatives in places such as Cambodia, Colombia, Indonesia, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Uganda, U.S.
- Corporate programs such as Coca-Cola, Nestle, Lindt, McDonalds, Keurig, McCain
- Leading research bodies such as IFPRI, CIAT, IITA, ICRAF, various Universities
- Sustainability standards or certifiers such as Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, Organic.
We provide technologies, train, and advise civil society and government organizations on best practices so they can make smarter policy decisions and run more effective rural development initiatives.
COSA’s globally aligned approaches help ensure that policymakers get credible and timely data that greatly facilitates reporting to the SDGs and other objectives.
We build institutional capacity from Mexico to Kenya to Vietnam so that they can be more informed and active partners in local development – especially to open the door for more effective decisions and best practices at the farm level.
COSA helps companies navigate the complexities of their supply chains to make sense of the truth behind their products and ingredients. We add new and unprecedented value for companies and institutions by facilitating their access to better data. We apply smart analytics to understand the data and guide organizations toward more effective decision-making.
The COSA approach to optimizing an organization’s sustainability program integrates traceability, transparency, and accountability. Our modular systems can even work with existing programs to gauge sustainability performance and identify risks.
The COSA approach not only helps companies see their supply chain’s long-term viability but also can literally change the dynamic of supplier-producer relationships, and build lasting partnerships that can improve overall resilience.
Sustainability challenges cannot be solved by any single organization or viewpoint. That’s why COSA’s partners represent the diverse scientific, sectoral, and geographic perspectives that are essential for global relevance in sustainability assessment. From governments to NGOs to research institutions to funders to corporations, all contribute to a collective ‘groups genius’