COCO, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that serves coalitions and collaboratives. It was started by the Coalition for the Upper South Platte in 2014 as a way of increasing on-the-ground, stakeholder-driven conservation.
For our purposes, coalitions and collaboratives are stakeholder-driven organizations that include stakeholder representatives from government entities, other nonprofit organizations, and the public. We define coalitions as formal 501(c)(3) organizations, and collaboratives as informal organizations. A collaborative may be a stepping stone to a coalition; it may be a short-term informal organization that lives only for the time of a specific project or program, or it may remain in existence for years but not feel compelled to become a formal nonprofit corporation. COCO Inc. member organizations may use coalition or collaborative in their name as outlined above, or may use a different naming convention, but whether an organization is a coalition or a collaborative, to be a member of COCO, it shall commit to the following tenets of collaborative conservation and the principles that made the Coalition for the Upper South Platte, initiator of COCO, Inc. successful:
- It must be highly accountable, transparent, and ethical.
- It must be inclusive (for example, not just made up of government entities, though government entities must be directly invested; various nongovernmental stakeholders must also be represented).
- It must be driven by strong consensus.
- It must work on a watershed or ecosystem landscape basis.
- It must employ best-available science and adaptive management.
- It must work for people and the planet within its selected area.
- It must engage and educate citizens in issues.
- It must not be, in its own right, a strong advocacy group, though stakeholders within a coalition or collaborative may be strong advocates through their respective positions and the groups they represent in a coalition or collaboration. When it does engage in advocacy, it must be based on a strong consensus with input from all stakeholders, and review by COCO leadership.